SAMMAMISH – It all started with a challenge on Dan Carollo’s journey to becoming Catholic.
“I incurred criticisms from other Christians,” said Carollo, who had been a member of the Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical Covenant, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and nondenominational Reformed faiths before joining the Catholic Church in 2013 at Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Sammamish.
His Christian friends told him Catholics aren’t serious about their faith; they just go through the motions. “I bet you can’t find anyone who’s got a real story,” they said.
“I bet you I can,” Carollo answered.
Carollo — who studied journalism, philosophy and music in college (he’s an acoustic guitarist) — said he has always been drawn to the power of stories and how they can connect people. But now he was on a mission.
Inspired by ‘Catholicism’
Carollo had been thinking for a while about filming interviews with fellow Mary, Queen of Peace parishioners about their faith journeys, an idea that was sparked when he saw Bishop Robert Barron’s video series “Catholicism.”
Carollo pitched his concept for “Faith Stories” to Zoltan Abraham, the parish’s pastoral assistant for faith formation. Abraham thought it was a great idea.
“In general, the Catholic Church has a long ways to go in entering the arena of social media,” Abraham said. “If we’re not there, then our voice won’t be heard. I was really glad that Dan was pioneering that.”
It was a natural fit, since Carollo is the volunteer manager of the parish’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although he didn’t have any film or video editing experience, Carollo had contacts with the nonprofit Created to Create, a group of artists who serve God through their art.
After finding a videographer and a handful of parishioners willing to participate, Carollo scheduled filming on two Sundays in the Mary, Queen of Peace chapel.
Dan Carollo. Photo: Courtesy Dan Carollo
Sharing encounters with Jesus
Participants in “Faith Stories” include lifelong Catholics, parish youth, a young seminarian and people like Carollo, who have come to Catholicism from other faiths.
In the short films, Mary, Queen of Peace parishioners share their first real encounters with faith and Jesus, and discuss turning points and awakenings in their spiritual lives. Carollo wanted the conversations to be deep and meaningful, so he edited the films to be relatively short, mostly 3-5 minutes.
Even so, Abraham said, they can have a huge impact.
The longest video — the 13-minute story of Christina, who converted from Hinduism — has been viewed more than 3,000 times on the Mary, Queen of Peace Vimeo page, where Carollo posts the interviews.
Father Kevin Duggan, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace, is enthusiastic about the video project. “I think it will be a wonderful thing for parishioners and for people who click on the links to learn about all the different stories from all the different backgrounds,” he said. “I am excited about what it can lead to.”
Not ‘going through the motions’
Abraham said he hopes the videos will inspire other Catholics to talk about their own faith journeys. “I think it is giving a wonderful example to people that it’s OK to talk about yourself, it’s OK to talk about your faith life, and it’s OK to put yourself out in public.”
Sharing others’ stories can also dispel myths and stereotypes. Carollo said one of the things that kept him away from Catholicism for many years was “this misconception that the only reason people are Catholic is because they just go … that’s the way they are raised, and they don’t know any better.”
But that’s not what he found through his video project.
Doing the interviews, Carollo said, “confirmed to me that, yes, there are people out there who are active Catholics and it’s not just about going through the motions.”
Carollo even made a discovery about his own faith. “What I found in Catholicism is that every day is about making a personal decision for Christ.”
Carollo’s faith journey
Hear Dan Carollo play some of his music and talk about his own faith journey on Ireland’s Radio Kerry.