Thursday, May 23, 2024

‘Something a Little Different:’ POP Culture Show Invites Catholics into Conversations that Deepen the Faith

From the choir loft at Prince of Peace-Assumption BVM Church in Steelton, Franka Maerz, Devon Van and Megan Wiebel share conversations on the faith in their YouTube series, “POP Culture.”
From the choir loft at Prince of Peace-Assumption BVM Church in Steelton, Franka Maerz, Devon Van and Megan Wiebel share conversations on the faith in their YouTube series, “POP Culture.”

A YouTube series hosted by three women of Prince of Peace Parish in Steelton is taking a casual, friendly and often humorous approach to spreading the faith.

Entitled “POP Culture,” the show covers a wide range of topics about the Catholic Church with a lighthearted approach aimed at inspiring viewers to live the faith in their daily lives.

From the choir loft at Prince of Peace-Assumption BVM Church, co-hosts Franka Maerz, Devon Van and Megan Wiebel share their passion for the faith in shows that are as conversational and inviting as a gathering with friends.

“The idea for the show came out of the desire to get folks back to church,” said Megan. “[During the height of the pandemic] people became so comfortable watching Mass at home, and many people have forgotten why it’s so important to be present at Mass and to receive Our Lord sacramentally, so we thought we’d start something that gives them a little catechesis.”

The show also takes into consideration the number of cradle Catholics who might need a reminder of just why the Church teaches what She does, or why they make certain gestures at Mass.

“There are cradle Catholics who have lost sight of all of that,” said Franka. “We’ve lived the faith all of our lives, so we don’t remember all of those things that we learned when we were young. We know we just do certain things because we’re supposed to do them. To have a deeper understanding and connection, it can deepen your faith. If you’re just going through the motions, you’re missing so much.”

So far, the series has presented shows on Laudato Si, the women of the Resurrection, Marian dogma, Eucharistic devotion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and liturgical celebrations.

It’s all about introducing what the co-hosts call “nuggets of faith” – morsels of Church history, teaching or the lives of the saints – to get viewers excited to learn more.

“We want to get the little pieces of the puzzle that people might seem to be missing and put it together for them, so they can see how much Holy Mother Church, in Her wisdom, makes sense,” said Megan.

The co-hosts reference Vatican documents, the Catechism and other credible Catholic resources in their 20-to-30-minute shows, with personal and often humorous stories that connect those teachings to daily life.

The ladies are big fans of Catholic talk-show host Lino Rulli and Catholic comedian Jennifer Fulwiler, so POP Culture naturally brings a lighthearted feel, while staying true to Church teaching.

“From the outset, we agreed that this show was not going to be boring. It’s something a little bit different, and a type of media that a lot of Catholics aren’t used to,” said Megan. “Sometimes people tend to think that folks who attend Mass are a little uptight. I just want to normalize the faith.”

On POP Culture, normalizing the faith includes lively discussions about the challenge of making time for prayer on busy days, suggestions on ways to reflect the liturgical year in your own home, and fish-bowl questions for their guests, which have included Father Jonathan Sawicki and Father James Lease.

“I am so passionate about the faith, and this show has been a great outlet to share that,” said Devon, who has degrees in journalism and Theology. “We are all called to the New Evangelization; it’s part of our mission, it’s part of our calling. This is an outlet to do what we can to share the faith.”

Devon, who said she is “passionate about apologetics,” said the show is a perfect vehicle for sharing the truth and beauty of the Church in a conversational way.

“When I meet someone on the street who wants to learn about the Catholic faith, or someone asks me a question about the Catholic faith, I don’t have a script in front of me. This is how conversations of faith happen. This is as organic as it’s going to get. This is how evangelization happens in the real world, and that’s another reason why this show lends itself so beautifully to help Catholics know their faith and defend their faith,” she said.

With nearly a dozen shows available on YouTube (search “POP Culture Steelton”), the series has developed a number of followers, and the co-hosts continue their efforts in the New Evangelization, encouraging viewers to explore their faith and rekindle their love for the Mass.

“I’m just so passionate about the faith, and what we’re doing,” Megan said. “I remember telling Franka one day that I just could not stop praying, I couldn’t focus, I just wanted to be in church every single day. I was so overwhelmed that I started crying. I wanted everybody to know that Jesus is in the tabernacle!”

“I think it was one of the major reasons that I got involved in this show,” she added. “If you knew the secret to saving the entire world, wouldn’t you want to share it?”

(Photo by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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