Dominican Radio Veritas, South Africa

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Dominican preaching takes many forms and makes use of a variety of media - not the least of which is the radio. ln South Africa we have Radio Veritas founded twelve years ago by our brother Emil Blaser.

Jesus told his disciples to go out to the ends of the earth and to preach to all nations. That was not so easy in those days when the only way to spread the gospel was by word of mouth and with handwritten gospel manuscripts and letters. Today we have the printed word but even more powerful are the social media like radio, television and internet in all its forms.

Emil maintains that on the whole the church has neglected these very powerful media. As a result the values that people are bombarded with day and night are worldly values, the very opposite of the values of the gospel.

Emil himself has always been interested in making as much use as possible of radio and television. As a young student in Stellenbosch he went to the university's drama school to learn the techniques of good, clear communication. For many years, as a young priest, he participated in and organised numerous programmes on radio and television.

His aim however was a Catholic Radio Station. But that was not at all easy. In fact it was a long uphill - struggle - apartheid struggle. In the first place there was a singular lack of interest in such a project in the church itself. Secondly, there was a lack of funding. Running a radio station is a very expensive business. Among other things one would have to find and fund competent staff and presenters. And thirdly, there was the ongoing battle to get a licence and a suitable wavelength from ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa).

It's a long story but in the end Emil and his staff were successful in overcoming all these obstacles. The project was placed under the auspices of the Dominican Order and it started with a Trust called Veritas Productions which produced programmes on CD's, then broadcast on shortwave, managed to get two hours on FM on a Sunday, then on DSTV Radio Bouquet and so forth, until eventually in September 2011 ICASA granted them a licence to broadcast day and night on medium wave 576. Today Radio Veritas is a proper fulltime radio station.

Many people have helped financially, many others have participated in the programmes. Radio Veritas has become an instrument or medium for the preaching of the gospel - as they say, it gives us "Good News for a Change".

The future potential of this radio station is enormous. They are now looking at young people who can be trained as future presenters and staff, and they are planning a newsroom that can gather news from all over Africa and elsewhere. The biggest challenge though is becoming financially viable. That will require much more funding and advertising revenue.

Here indeed is one of the most powerful media for our Dominican preaching ministry - now and in the future.

(17 August 2013)