A new departure for Religious News Network has met with an initial positive response. Lent Matters is a series of interviews in which people discuss topics such as prayer, retreat, pilgrimage and forgiveness. They can be heard or downloaded from the Sacred Space website.
The producer of religious programming with Radio Kerry was surprised at the reaction to an interview broadcast on their Sunday morning programme. “Many of the stories that we hear on radio are about successes. Noreen’s story is one that people could identify with – things didn’t work out as she hoped.” He was referring to the first in a new Lenten series of interviews provided by Religious News Network (RNN).
In addition to the usual service of sending out a fortnightly CD with twleve interviews edited and ready for transmission, RNN is sending a series of thirty minute programmes to radio stations throughout Ireland. A Spiritual Adventure and A Place Apart were the first programmes in the series, Lent Matters, circulated for broadcast at the end of February.
The programme describes the experience of Noreen Mackey, who, at fifteen years-of-age, discovered the writings of St John of the Cross. She tells how her attraction to Carmelite spirituality led to her entering a Carmelite convent in Ireland and describes the difficulty of life behind the grille of the enclosed order. Leaving the convent when her health eventually broke down, she took a path of legal study and practice that led to her becoming a lawyer at the European Court of Justice.
The continuing call of the cloister drew Noreen back to the enclosed life in a French convent. Despite her determination to stay, the sisters asked her to leave, however, and after eighteen months she resumed her struggle to find a spirituality appropriate to her life. “God can bring good out of any mistake,” Noreen reflects. “The big thing I learned was trust in God.” Sometime later she realised that she was living the contemplative life that was appropriate to her even if she was a lawyer concerned with Ansbacher enquiry rather than the life of the cloister.
Noreen is author of The secret ladder, a spiritual adventure and The crystal fountain, the story of an inner journey and has written articles on spirituality. RNN’s Director, Eileen Good, interviewed her for the broadcast.
Rory O’Sullivan, producer of religious programming, with Radio Kerry, spoke to AMDG about the reaction to this first programme. “It’s a huge personal story,” he said. He noted that the interview, which was broadcast as part of the station’s Horizons Sunday programme, received a considerable number of responses from listeners “some who were sympathetic to [Noreen] others who empathised with her.”
The second programme in the series evokes the calm and retreat that Glendalough represents for many. Michael Rodgers, a returned missionary priest, describes the journey that brought him to the monastic site where he now welcomes people who come on pilgrimage and on retreat. In an interview with Piaras Jackson, recorded by the Upper Lake, Michael described how he is concerned with the core questions that are the questions many people.
Speaking of the importance of times of retreat, Michael says that “to really appreciate the ordinary things, you need to stop, to take a break from it.” He sees that this important Lenten motif is often absent from the lives of people who are caught up in everyday concerns.
Both of these interviews touch on the importance of each person’s individual journey and both affirm the importance of daily prayer. In bringing this kind of conversation to the airwaves across the country, RNN is providing a valuable service in affirming the spiritual search in which many people are engaged.
RNN provides over thirty local, community and hospital radio stations throughout Ireland with live and recorded news, reaction stories and features. The interviews will be available during Lent on www.sacredspace.ie, a site that is the daily prayer-resource for thousands. Check http://www.sacredspace.ie/lent/audio.htm