At 3 p.m. May 11, 2015, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy was heard on the airwaves of AM 1260, launching The Rock, the new Catholic radio station in the Diocese of Cleveland.
Since then, the station has broadcast 24/7, primarily with a feed from EWTN Global Catholic Radio. Jerry Monroe, board president for St. Peter the Rock Media, said The Rock was the 300th station to join EWTN as an affiliate. In the past three years, about 100 more stations became affiliates and the number keeps growing, he said.
Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated Mass on May 11 at the Conversion of St. Paul Shrine in Cleveland to celebrate the station’s anniversary. Concelebrants included Father Doug Brown, pastor of Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Cleveland. Father Brown is the station’s chaplain and a member of its board of directors.
“We are the only station broadcasting in the diocese,” Monroe said. With three years under its belt, he said he thinks The Rock “has turned a corner, established itself here and shown that it will be here.”
Many pastors have allowed station representatives to visit their parishes to introduce the station to parishioners after weekend Masses, he said. “Our bumper magnets are everywhere and I’m seeing billboards for The Rock frequently,” Monroe added.
He said it was fitting that the anniversary Mass be celebrated at St. Paul Shrine, since that is where Mother Angelica, who founded EWTN, answered the call to her vocation and began her religious life as a Poor Clare nun.
“In a sense, the station was founded here,” Monroe said. Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday 2016, nearly a year after The Rock was launched. He said the station arranged for Masses to be celebrated in her honor one month and one year after her death.
“Thank you to the sisters for sharing their home and their voices with us this evening,” Bishop Perez said during the May 11 Mass. The Poor Clares are cloistered nuns, so they were seated behind a screen throughout the Mass.
“We gather today on the third anniversary of this evangelical tool,” the bishop said, noting his mother listens to EWTN in Spanish. “It is appropriate to celebrate this Mass here, where Mother Angelica started her vocation.”
He said the liturgy being celebrated that night was the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The bishop talked about the evolution of evangelization, a term that rarely was used and really wasn’t understood in the Catholic Church until recently. In the past 20 years, things changed. Bishop Perez said as a young priest, he was charged with starting an evangelization institute in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“I didn’t know what it was and neither did the cardinal archbishop. He told me to ‘figure it out,’” the bishop said. After some research, he found an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1974 that said “Evangelizing is, in fact, the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.”
The bishop said as he reflected, learned and studied, he discovered that “evangelization is not an activity of the Church, it’s the activity of the Church.”
He said Mass comes from the Latin word missa, which means to send. “There’s not much to do after communion – a prayer and a blessing and you’re told to go,” he said, which is an invitation to evangelize – to spread the word of God.
“On the radio, you don’t know who’s out there listening, but the word goes out. Jesus said a farmer sows seed, but he’s not sure where goes. Then it starts growing – but he doesn’t know how. The seeds of the kingdom are being sown. You take the voice of the Gospel and send it,” he said, referring to the radio broadcasts.
“Congratulations on three years of ministry. The seed is proclaimed day in and day out in this ministry of evangelization, which has a life of its own,” Bishop Perez said.
After Mass, the congregation greeted the bishop, posed for photos, enjoyed refreshments in the parlor and had a chance to visit the Poor Clares’ gift shop.
The bishop tapes a monthly radio show, “Table Talk,” for broadcast on The Rock. The next show will air at 5 p.m. June 14. It is a one-hour conversation, including questions submitted by listeners. The show will be rebroadcast at noon June 16 and 1 p.m. June 17. Questions can be submitted at email@example.com.
For more information on AM 1260 The Rock, click HERE.