Story by Christina Leslie, Correspondent
It’s full steam ahead for the cast and crew of “Cristo Para Todos – Christ For All,” now in the midst of producing 12 new episodes for its ninth broadcast season. The award-winning, Diocese of Trenton Spanish language television show is embracing new cast members and a new focus in its unchanging quest to bring the love of God to its viewers.
Matthew Greeley, diocesan associate director of communications and co-host for the series, detailed a few of the many metamorphoses the show is undergoing this season. In addition to the new CPT set, and the transfer of production to Hill Studio, Paulsboro, Greeley is excited about working with his new co-host, Yanci Merkel.
“She impressed us and we never forgot her,” Greeley said of Merkel, a native Salvadoran first introduced to the CPT audience as the spotlight interview in the “Letting It Go” episode of the show’s sixth season. “She has such a genuine spirit and her faith just shines through.”
Merkel, formerly a Spanish teacher in St. Rose High School, Belmar, now teaches the language in Freehold Township High School and is a member of St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Lakewood.
As in past seasons, the half-hour show broadcasts beginning this fall are written by six-season veteran Esteban Cairol, who lives in San José, Costa Rica, and Skypes with Greeley frequently.
CPT will continue to enjoy the talents of local Catholic musicians, Ministerio Getsemaní. Their newly-enlarged band includes Elmer Santos (who writes all the music for each episode), Diane Cardona, Helen Medina, brothers Ivan and Carlos Vergara, and Father Neiser Cardenas, parochial vicar in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, as well as the ministry’s manager, Jorge Altamiranda.
The show’s segment, “Christians Under Construction,” will now feature Jossie Ramos of the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life, as she interviews Catholics attending various diocesan events and celebrations about their faith. “Jossie is fantastic as our new ‘correspondent’. This new angle and her participation add a lot of life to this popular segment,” shared Greeley.
Shows this year will examine topics such as empathy, how to live a good death, superstitions, how to serve others with love, blaming God for misfortune, aging with dignity, recognizing Christ in others, and “benchwarmers,” that is, people who simply sit in the church pew and do not spread the Good News.
The Diocese first jumped into Spanish-language television programming with AHTV, Apostolado Hispano TV, in 2006 and won a Proclaim Award from the Catholic Communication Campaign in its first year. It evolved and changed format over the years, becoming Cristo Para Todos in 2010. This June, the show won its third straight Gabriel Award by the Catholic Media Conference for the episode “Meme de tu Vida – The Meme of Your Life,” in the category of Spanish Language Entertainment, National or Local Release.
The program is seen as a creative way to evangelize and walk with the fastest growing segment of the Catholic Church. CPT seeks to bring the Catholic faith into people’s homes, a resource for families to talk about their faith.
Marianne Hartman, director of the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production, serves as CPT’s executive producer, while Rose Kimball, the department’s associate director, is the program’s associate producer. The show also counts on Cynthia Pineda as a CPT producer. Greeley highlights Pineda’s eye for detail. “Cynthia has become the backbone of this show. She does so much.”
The design of the set has also gotten a makeover with the new season. Ryan Larason, videographer and editor for the Department of Multimedia Production, and freelance contractor Frank Lettieri, Jr. designed the new set at Hill Studio, taking into account the many diverse elements that make CPT shine. Greeley also shared that being at Hill Studio “created the opportunity for fresh visuals and colors. The new CPT set adds a depth and vibrancy that reflects the spirit of this upcoming season. We so appreciate the experience and expertise of Esteban Granados there and all that the studio offers.” It will be the job of the program's editor, freelancer Carlos Delcid, to help all these elements shine.
New episodes of CPT are scheduled to begin broadcasting in September on Telemundo Philadelphia. Currently, CPT airs there every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. as well as in other broadcast markets; see CristoParaTodosTV.com for complete schedule. CPT is on Facebook, and has a blog at EspatiEspami.com (He is for You, He is for Me).
Despite all the new faces and changes, the focus for Cristo Para Todos has not wavered, noted Greeley.
“Our target audience is youth and families, and we hope to reach people who aren’t active in their faith,” Greeley stated. “We want to reach the seekers, and hope the show will open the door for them to grow closer to God and their faith communities.”