March 2004 Archives

Eloisa Chouhy

I can now tell you about the death of my most dear, long-time friend, Eloisa Chouy. On March 12 her heart failed.

To friends who read this public statement, I do it to recognize her work as a courageous leader in religious education. It is not easy to work under a military dictatorship as she did in the '70's. It is not easy to work in an alienating male-dominated church. She designed and directed adult catechesis in Uruguay on nights and weekends as a non-paid volunteer. Her day job was as an English language instructor and translator.

After receiving her graduate degree in catechesis at the Institute Catholique in Paris she developed creative methods and courses for adults. She coauthored many catecheticalbooks and produced six video productions that are used widely throughout Latin America, including Cuba. She was visiting Texas this last February, writing the script and designing the architecture for an interactive CD-ROM.

Eloisa was the creator of the pioneering website, Luz y Alegria, (Light and Happiness) and changed the way that adult catechesis is practiced on the Latin American continent. She made catechesis real for people, none of that other-world pious pablum here. This is because she was real, strong and loving.


It was energizing to be with church media leaders during the workshop, "When is Hispanic Universal." These are resources that I mentioned:
1. Interactive CD-ROM, "Ministry in A Multicultural World: Beyond Borders"
2. "The Mediated Spirit," a CD-ROM authored by Dr. Peter Horsfield, an in-depth, extensive research presentation about how the Christian Church, from its early days, was embedded in media.
3. Dr. Mary Hess writes about The Religious imagination and Relious Education.
4. The five assumptions about media can be found in this paper that I wrote some time ago.
5. A dvd about latinos and latinas in film, "The Bronze Screen," can be purchased from
If any of the workshop participants need more info, write to me or comment here.

It was a good time together, with nice percussion at the end!

Mariana De La Noche

Last night's episode of "Mariana De La Noche" had an incredible fire scene that looked awfully difficult too shoot. This fire scene sets up a connection between the hero, Ignacio and the evil mine-owner, Marcia. Marcia will seek to destroy the love between Ignacio and the heroine, Mariana. This telenovela pits miners against wealthy, arrogant landowners while uncovering the human connections that cross class and economic boundaries.

It airs on Univision at 7 pm, CST. Be wary, this website is horribly commercialized with all kinds of garrish and in-your-face pop-ups, dissolves....yuk.

About 3 million US Hispanic households watched Mariana De La Noche last night. That's about 12 million people. This telenovelas continues the public discourse/reflection about economic just issues in Latin America and also in the US.

RCC Conference

The Religious Communicators Council is holding their annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama as it celebrates its 75th anniversary. The day prior, I'll attend the annual meeting of the NARA, North America Regional Association of the World Association for Christian Communication and hear Nancy Snow speak on "The Information War." Really looking forward to meeting other communications people.

Bush is �Bushe� in Guaran�

Found out today that there is a running joke among the vast majority of Paraguayans. They call President Bush by the Guaran� term: �Bushe� (boosh-eh) which means lazy, stupid.

Guaran� and globalization

Am trying to learn a few phrases in Guaran�. Everyone speaks Spanish here in Asunci�n, but among themselves they speak guaran�. The churches are built according to Spanish architectural forms, but the ornamentation and the merchants surrounding them use native religious artifacts that are far removed from European forms.

The blend is fascinating, especially when speaking with Catholics and learning about their Guaran�-Spanish identity encountering globalization. The TV broadcast stations use the spanish language exclusively. The grassroots media producers who use analog videotape and editors, use Guaran� with some spanish. The institutional church, unable to enter into the main corporate media structures (Spanish), finds its way through the independent productions in Guaran� that circulate informally among the community.


Bleary-eyed in Brazil

Am in Porto Alegre, 6 am, waiting for a flight to Paraguay. The federal security workers and immigration officers are on strike, so all flights are delayed for hours. Few people to check bags, to check passports, .....lines, lines, lines. I'm reading "Breathing Space" by Heidi Neumark, [] so these delays are a blessing, giving me the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by this wonderful soul chronicle of destitution and transfiguration in the south bronx, ny.


Getting ready to go to University of Unisinos, Brazil to meet two doctoral students who were awarded Fellowships by the International Study Commission on Media, Religion and Culture. Viviane Borelli is looking into the mediated religious aspects of popular public gatherings in football stadiums. Ignacio Sierra is looking into the decentralization and re-signification of religious discourse in contemporary communications media.

I'm travelling with Germ�n Rey who is about to publish a book on the religious dimensions of the Latin American telenovela.


Lab: Faith in Media Cultures

Heads up: A group of Latin American catechetical leaders is to announce soon the first "Laboratory: Faith in Media Cultures." This one-week lab will take place in San Jos�, Costa Rica in March 2005. It will examine current projects in catechesis and religious education as they attempt to "shift paradigms" to face the opportunities and difficulties of the new media cultures. This project is so new, their website will be up only in mid-April. Contact person is: Irene Nesi from Caracas, Venezuela.

The lab is for 20 persons and is by invitation. There are two slots for USA participants.

A call for projects will be announced next month. Persons wishing to attend will submit their current project and the questions they wish to address during the lab. I'll post info here later.

This laboratory is designed, in part, on a model developed by Mary Hess several years ago when she organized a similar lab at Boston College.


Just got back from Buenos Aires where I visited an on-line, e-learning project for an advanced catechetical certificate. In Spanish, the ISCA, Instituto Superior de Catequesis Argentino offers three on-line courses. You can register for a course only if you are in a group of 3 or 4 or more. Individual attention and help is given to every student, based on work submitted in compliance with assigned learning activities. Activities include both individual and group work.

As the of official training unit of the Catholic bishops conference, ISCA functioned for two decades with a large building that had become worn. When the new director looked at renewing the training program and faced the costs of
refurbishing the building, he found that costs would be unfundable. Moreover, students from outside of Buenos Aires could not afford the transportation and housing costs, let alone the time to get off work. Faced with this, the new director decided to go on-line and has had great success. He now faces a more difficult challenge: how to update the curriculum to include reflection about popular media culture as a source of religious experience and expression. The technology helped him make a change that reaches the pastoral agents who want to learn, but the church culture is proving to be more difficult in terms of making the change in curriculum.

new directions in video/film

Was with Mary Lampe in NYC where we presented samples of new media work, new directions in microcinema and video art. Mary is executive director of SWAMP, Southwest Alternate Media Project in Houston. She is exec. producer of "The Territory," which is a great show. It features recent video/film works by innovative artists. If it is not in your local pbs afilliate, i recommend you ask your local PBS station to inquire into getting the show for your area. there are strong connections between this type of artwork and church programming needs in liturgy, religious ed, prayer and study groups.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.