Bishop Stika, Jim Wogan launch diocesan TV show A Call to Discipleship

By Bill Brewer

The Diocese of Knoxville is turning to television as an evangelization tool to help spread the word of God throughout East Tennessee.

A Call to Discipleship is a new TV show being produced by the Diocese of Knoxville that features stories and conversation on discipleship taking place throughout the diocese.

Jim Wogan, diocesan communications director, is hosting the weekly show, which is being broadcast on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. by Community Television of Knoxville, a public-access cable TV station.

Bishop Richard F. Stika, executive producer of A Call to Discipleship, launched the first episode with Mr. Wogan on April 20. In that episode, Bishop Stika described the concept behind the show, citing Scripture on discipleship; he also updated viewers on news of interest to parishioners, such as the cathedral project, confirmation, and the Rosary for Life — all examples of discipleship.

“A disciple is someone who accepts the invitation to follow Jesus. The apostles were originally disciples who decided to follow Jesus,” Bishop Stika told viewers. “A call to discipleship is intentional, that we preach the Gospel values, we share the story from the New and the Old Testament. But then we live it. You just can’t tell the story; you have to live it. A call to discipleship means you place God first. If you place God first, everything else will fall into place.”

Bishop Stika said Mr. Wogan first introduced the idea of the show to him when Mr. Wogan joined the diocese in July 2014 from WATE-TV, Channel 6 in Knoxville, where he was the sports director and anchor. Taping of the first show was on April 14 at Community TV.

Assisting Mr. Wogan in producing the show are Father Tony Budnick, associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in Knoxville, who also teaches broadcasting and speech at Knoxville Catholic High School; Scott Maentz, a photographer and videographer who will be ordained a permanent deacon this summer; and Emily Booker, a communications specialist in the diocese’s Office of Communications.

Mr. Wogan and Father Budnick are co-producers of the show, and Mr. Maentz and Miss Booker are technical directors.

Bishop Stika said A Call to Discipleship is another way the diocese can effectively evangelize, as called for in the Church’s New Evangelization.

“It’s all part of the fact that we want to evangelize, teach, and explain the faith. So when Jim came on board, with his TV background, he brought this idea to me, and I thought it was a great idea.

Hopefully, we can air it all throughout East Tennessee,” Bishop Stika said. “So, with the TV show, Facebook, Twitter, the [East Tennessee Catholic] newspaper and magazine, and YouTube, these are all different ways that we can teach the faith. With A Call to Discipleship — Jesus calls everybody to discipleship.”

Mr. Wogan said the initial challenge was to get the first episodes taped in the Community TV studio. With that accomplished, he wants the show to evolve and improve, including by taking the show out into the diocese, taping on location.

When he left WATE, Mr. Wogan said he didn’t intend to get back in front of a camera to host a TV broadcast. But he said Bishop Stika was comfortable with the idea and wanted to pursue that format.

“The challenge for me has been to weave myself into the liturgical and theological conversation. But people are looking to Bishop Stika and the guests to bring the theological and liturgical perspective. The bishop and other guests will provide those answers,” Mr. Wogan said.

Mr. Wogan is highly complimentary of the Community TV personnel, facilities, and equipment. He said once he familiarized himself with the CTV operation, he was convinced he could put together a quality TV show.

Among the benefits of having the nonprofit Community TV as a partner is cost. A Call to Discipleship is produced for a nominal administrative fee, according to Mr. Wogan.

Going forward, the key will be to broaden the show’s reach in covering the entire diocese, from Chattanooga to the Tri-Cities, while attracting a growing audience.

“This is an ambitious effort. We’re doing one show a week,” Mr. Wogan said, noting that he consulted with the Archdiocese of Chicago, which broadcasts its own show monthly. “I’ve done three or four shows a day in my career, so I’m used to working on a deadline.

“It has to be fun to watch. It can’t be frivolous, but it must be appealing and fun to watch,” he said.

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