Saint Benedict Press resurrects old theatre on Sacred Heart campus
'Catholic Courses' home to state-of-the-art production studio
BELMONT — Conor Gallagher never imagined he would take his family's 74-year-old Catholic publishing business into 21st-century video production when he assumed the role of vice president of publishing for Saint Benedict Press three years ago. His grandfather, Bud Gallagher, started selling Bibles door to door in 1938. His father, Bob Gallagher, has continued growing the family publishing business over the past three decades as chairman and CEO.
The latest generation of the Gallagher family has overseen the development of video courses that complement their Catholic book publishing. Their new venture, Catholic Courses, launched in December and features world-renowned professors exploring the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The video lectures, filmed with two high-definition cameras on a custom-built set, are supplemented with visual aids, special effects and lecture guides.
"Part of my father's vision for growing the business has been adapting to changes in the marketplace while remaining faithful to our mission of publishing products you can trust with your faith," Gallagher said. "We continue to offer faithful Catholic products – we're just finding new and improved ways of presenting the material."
Pictured above: Saint Benedict Press welcomed Father Alfred McBride Dec. 11-14 to film the latest "Catholic Courses" series in the converted theatre on the Sacred Heart Campus at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Belmont. Pictured with Father McBride are (from left) Zachery Brakefield, Sarah Laurell, Conor Gallagher, Rick Rotondi and Kevin Gallagher. (Sueann Howell | Catholic News Herald)
Starting up the video production effort from scratch, they recently remodeled an old, unused theatre on the campus of the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Belmont that was being leased by Belmont Abbey College. The theatre, in what used to be a women's college run by the Sisters of Mercy, was originally designed for stage performances, so they invested approximately $40,000 to build a studio set with professional-grade cameras, lighting and sound-proofing panels.
The new production has gotten off the ground rapidly, Gallagher said. "We're extremely grateful to the Sisters of Mercy and Belmont Abbey College for giving our Catholic Courses studio a home."
"We did not even own a camera nine months ago," he said. "Now we've already produced five courses – 20 hours of quality audio and video courses."
Managing production for each of the "Catholic Courses" is another member of the Gallagher family, Kevin. He is directing "Catholic Courses" and working with a small team of professionals on writing, filming and marketing.
"I never envisioned myself doing this," Kevin Gallagher said, but added that the multimedia venture "is very important work. We're paying such close attention to quality here."
To date, "Catholic Courses" offer college-level material ranging in topics such as "The Four Last Things," "Saints With a Past," "Seven Myths About the Catholic Church and Science," "The Hidden Meaning of the Lord of the Rings," and "Shakespeare's Catholicism."
Norbertine Father Alfred McBride, founder of the Department of Religious Education at the National Catholic Educational Association and a prolific Catholic writer, was in Belmont Dec. 11-14 to tape the latest courses in the series: "The Christ: A Complete Picture of Jesus from the Gospels" and " Unveiling the Apocalypse: The End Times According to the Bible."
"I admire Saint Benedict Press for wanting to do this, to make good quality presentations on the Gospels," Father McBride said. "I have written four books on the Gospels, one for each of the Gospel writers. It's one of my favorite topics. I am glad they wanted to do a presentation on the Apocalypse, too, which is a very powerful message for our times."
Explaining the subjects in a way that's easy to understand is important, Father McBride said, yet many theologians get trapped by mountains of information and fail to cut through to the "big picture."
"Our hope is that we are making very interesting and engaging courses that will grab people's attention to think about their faith in a way maybe they haven't before," Kevin Gallagher said.
For more information about "Catholic Courses" or to download a free audio course, www.catholiccourses.com.
Read more about Saint Benedict Press, here.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy