By Dave Plisky
This past Saturday, the DeSales Media team attended Catholic Creatives’ Regional in NYC. DeSales Media was a sponsor of the regional meet-up along with OSV Institute, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and the Alliance for Defending Freedom. Catholic Creatives Regionals are single-day gatherings in partnership with Our Sunday Visitor. The ideas sparked at the regional meetings will be eligible to be submitted for the OSV Innovation Challenge.
The Catholic Creatives Regionals are exciting events that transcend the goals of industry networking events. For Catholic Creatives, “networking” means forming a vulnerable, authentic community united in a common mission. Although Catholic creatives can often feel alone in their professional milieu, nothing about Catholic Creatives is self-referential or congratulatory. The ethos of the CC Regional was deeply evangelical. And its telos is deeply missionary: it’s all about discipleship through beauty.
How did they do this? The Catholic Creatives Regional combined four different programmatic elements to offer an effective workshop that built community, inspired, and restored.
It’s easy to get sidetracked, to get caught up in our egos or forget that our work is ultimately a service of love for God. Prayer helps us keep our eyes on our true goal—God—by helping us practice putting God first through a gift of time and attention each day. Catholic Creatives got started in the right direction by opening with prayer at the beginning of our time together. In the middle of the afternoon, we took a break to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. They gave the ancient prayer a fresh spin with contemporary music, that honored the prayerfulness of the moment. This combination of ancient and new is a classic Catholic gift to the world: innovation that retains what’s always been good.
To that point, at the NYC CC Regional, Anthony D’Ambrosio shared a moving talk on his own journey with vulnerability. Vulnerability is a theme woven through Catholic Creatives’ five pillars, particularly their commitment to “speak the unspoken.”
“Speak the Unspoken means always speaking the truth in love no matter how uncomfortable it is.” Art is born from vulnerability—when we allow ourselves to question our own certainties, we can set out to make something truly creative and unique, something inspired. After Anthony’s talk, we saw vulnerable art in action with Clare McCallan’s inspiring spoken word performance. Clare is no stranger to DeSales—check out the work she did for us in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Her poetry performance perfectly embodied Catholic Creatives’ commitment to communicating ideas through beauty. Read The Tablet‘s profile to learn more about Clare.
Catholic Creatives has a remarkably strong commitment to community. In their own words, they strive to be: “the family dinner table, a place of communion, friendship, joy, and unity.”
They strive to “foster a family ecology where creatives find belonging, spiritual nourishment, and are organically connected to the network of learning, mentorship, and patronage they need to be healthy and to grow.”
And that is the level of connections that were being made throughout the day. I found myself having deep conversations about experimental approaches to film with complete strangers. But because the relationship was forged in the atmosphere of openness, collaboration, and vulnerability, the conversation went to that place organically, and it felt right. It is so gratifying to feel the Spirit moving among the artistic Catholic community right here in NYC.
And it’s with that spirit that we came together in a final Spark Session …
Our first workshop session was a Spark Session, a collaborative free-writing exercise similar to brainwriting, which is designed to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page. The goal of the Spark Session is to get your own inhibitions and hesitation out of the way so that your wildest, most creative ideas come to the forefront. The Spark Session encourages participants to be vulnerable.
Often it’s our fear and our own second-guessing that gets in the way of our own creativity. Throughout the entire session, we were encouraged to write out every idea that came to mind: to keep writing no matter what! Everything in our brains had to come out on the page—no idea was a bad idea. We then had to share out our ideas of the small group with the entire group! This ability to bare ourselves, fail, and make creative mistakes is an essential part of the creative process.
The workshopping we participated in had a purpose. The final Spark Session encouraged groups to create ideas that could be refined and considered for the OSV Innovation Challenge. The OSV Innovation Challenge is a joint initiative by Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic Creatives to support and promote new visionary ideas among Catholic Creatives to further the mission of the Church. The Challenge is encouraging entrepreneurs, artists, pioneers, and visionaries to submit their proposals for impactful ideas that will further the mission of the Church. Check out their website for more information. So go ahead, grab your creative friends—the ones with the wacky ideas, appetite for beauty, and courage to make things real—and spark some ideas that ignite change.
DeSales is in the news! Check out “Catholic Creatives Spread the Gospel Through Beauty,” The Tablet, Nov 26, 2019.