Friday 16 June 2006

God or the Girl

God or the Girl

What do you get when a writer from the Da Ali G Show, Weakest Link, Survivor and The Apprentice takes on the Catholic Church and the question of celibacy for priests? God or the Girl (GOTG).

Yet the question of what happened behind the scenes is one that is even more interesting. The show filmed over 5 weeks and the men who aired on TV had been discerning this decision from between three and ten years. It followed 4 men between 21 and 28 years of age. How can 5 weeks of filming capture years of internal debate, praying, and questioning if God has a specific will for one’s life?

The original ads for the show said it would follow 6 men on their journey, the site says 5, yet the actual show only followed 4 men. What happened to the other two men? Where did they disappear to? The four men examined in the series are: Joe Adair, 28, a campus counselor at John Carroll University; Dan DeMatte, 21, is a second-year student at Ohio Dominican University; Steve Horvath, 25, who left his job as a high-paid consultant to become a campus missionary at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln; and Mike Lechniak, 24, who must choose between a teaching career and girlfriend Aly and the priesthood.

All the hype on TV prior to the airing and the men being interviewed on CNN, by Dianne Sawyer, Larry King, and many, many others created a circus air around the series.

The show traveled the world as most reality shows do these days. Filmed mostly in the United States, our men traveled to Germany for World Youth Day, and to Latin America for a missions trip. Even Canada makes a small appearance as Joe goes on a pilgrimage to Niagara Falls, Canada, to Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre.

Recently Imprint had the chance to interview Daniel DeMatte. Here’s what he had to say about his experience with the series.

Imprint: How long was filming for GOTG?
Daniel: 5 Weeks.

Imprint: How long have you been in this discernment process?
Daniel: 3 Years.

Imprint: If someone were approached for a GOTG2 would you recommend it?
Daniel: Definitely. It's a great way to evangelize a national audience.

Imprint: What was the best experience of GOTG?
Daniel: The cross carrying really drew me into the mystery of Christ's passion. It has been a constant reminder and aid in my prayer life. It taught me so much about discernment and God's love and mercy.

Imprint: What was the worst part of GOTG?
Daniel: The stress of the time commitment.

Imprint: With the cameras around all the time, did you find you modified or changed your behavior? If so, how? Was it harder to have personal time with God, or prayer time?
Daniel: As Socrates says, "I am the same man always, both in private and in public". No, it didn't change my behavior at all, but it did take away from personal time with God. Sometimes it would be hard to get my prayer in during the filming process.

Imprint: If you were I charge of GOTG what would you have done differently?
Daniel: Shown more of the broadness of discernment. How it is a call between celibacy and married life, and how you take smaller steps, like first discern should I enter seminary or start a dating relationship. Also, it would have been God or the girl, I would have liked to have shown the beauty of sacramental marriage more.

Imprint: Do you pray the rosary daily? If not, how frequently? How important is Mary to your faith?
Daniel: I did the deMontfort total consecration to Mary. "I am all thine, all I have is thine, o most loving Jesus, thru thy most loving mother". Mary is very important to me, yet I rotate praying the rosary and the chaplet of divine mercy.

Imprint: When you made and carried the cross, could you have chosen lighter wood?
Daniel: I could have...I wanted to enter into the mystery of Christ's suffering. The heavy wood was needed for me to fulfill God's plan for me

Imprint: Looking back from the distance of time, do you regret carrying the cross? Would you ever recommend it to a young man you are working with?
Daniel: Not to just any young could be a source of pride for some. But I was very blest by doing it. I would let people know that when they carry a cross like that, God can speak to you for your vocation. See, our life as vocation is linked to the cross. If I am a priest, I am called to lay down my life for my congregation. If I am married, my life is laid down for my wife and kids. When I was carrying the cross, I was thinking more about sacrificing myself for a wife and kids. This is the way my heart desires to lay down my life. This has been very significant in my discernment.

Imprint: How many people attend your campus ministry meeting at Fort Zion?
Daniel: We have 217 high schoolers in our youth group. We meet at the church, St Agatha’s now. We average about 60 youth per week. We also have monthly events open to the diocese now, at which we average about 350-400 teens. Praise God!

Imprint: What would be the single piece of advice you would give to a person who wants to grow in their faith?
Daniel: Read 1 John 3:1-5 (See ye what love the Father hath given to us, that children of God we may be called; because of this the world doth not know us, because it did not know Him; beloved, now, children of God are we, and it was not yet manifested what we shall be, and we have known that if he may be manifested, like him we shall be, because we shall see him as he is; and every one who is having this hope on him, doth purify himself, even as he is pure. Every one who is doing the sin, the lawlessness also he doth do, and the sin is the lawlessness, and ye have known that he was manifested that our sins he may take away, and sin is not in him.) Learn who you are, and then respond to this knowledge.

Imprint: What books, or authors do you read to nourish your faith?
Daniel: Scripture, Therese, deSales, Pope John Paul II, Scott Hahn, St. John of the Cross.

This series, which many thought would be a joke, turned out to be a fair and balanced approach. Though it had many short-fallings; first in that it only spanned 5 weeks for a process that takes many years. Second, the variety in background for the 4 men was not very diverse. The show shows some of the struggles that men must face in making this life- altering decision. Here at the University of Waterloo we have students at St. Jerome’s who are deciding this as well as seminarians who have made the decision at Resurrection College. If you are Catholic or know Catholics, this series will give you a glimpse into some of the men who consider serving the church, God and mankind in this way.

The show had 5 episodes that aired over a number of weeks leading up to Easter weekend this spring. The series is being released on DVD by A&E TV in June 2006. The DVDs have 10 hours of special features and behind the scenes footage.

(First Published in Imprint 2006-06-16 as 'Celibate good times. c'mon.)

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