Catholic radio comes to diocese

WILTON—More than 250 people turned out to celebrate the launch of Veritas Catholic Radio, which Bishop Frank J. Caggiano called “a historic moment in the life of our diocese.”

He praised Steve Lee, President & CEO of Veritas Catholic Network Inc. for his efforts to bring Catholic radio to the Diocese of Bridgeport. “Without you, this would not have happened,” he said. “Your sacrifice will be deeply blessed by the Lord, and I am honored to collaborate with you on this, for this is a moment of great opportunity to evangelize our sisters and brothers.”

With the FCC approval of his purchase of a radio station, Lee, a Ridgefield resident, is going to begin broadcasting EWTN Catholic programming on July 8 throughout Fairfield County, the north shore of Long Island and parts of Westchester.

Lee purchased WNLK-AM 1350 radio and an FM translator at 103.9 MHz from Sacred Heart University, which will allow him to simulcast EWTN programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week in addition to providing local coverage of Catholic and community events. He hopes to reach an audience of 5.6 million Catholics.

“Radio did not die; it found its niche and its niche are those tens of thousands of people who sit in their cars going nowhere fast,” Bishop Caggiano said. “So now we have the opportunity to make that a catechetical classroom. Imagine Jesus sitting next to us in the car to learn about our faith, to be inspired, to be challenged, to go forward and to lift our spirits because that is what Veritas is going to do. It will be available to everyone of every age, of every language. It will be our radio station, and I am delighted that EWTN is going to provide the programming.”

Lee thanked Bishop Caggiano, who is on the Veritas board, for his support and said he was a strong, faith-filled spiritual leader committed to Catholic radio.

Lee said the EWTN programming will include “Catholic Answers Live,” “Called to Communion” with Dr. David Anders, “Kresta in the Afternoon,” “The Doctor Is In” with Dr. Ray Guarendi and “Christ Is the Answer” with Father John Riccardo. Veritas will also simulcast “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo and classic programs featuring Mother Angelica and Father Benedict Groeschel.

Lee said the opportunity for evangelization is great because the second largest religious denomination in the United States today is former Catholics, along with the Millennial Generation and the growing number of “nones,” who identify with no organized religion.

“We need to reach people where they are, in their cars, in their homes, on their phones,” Lee said. “We need to show them the beauty, truth and goodness of our faith, and that will have a downstream influence that will affect families, the culture and the Church.”

Citing Nielsen research from 2018, Lee said overwhelming majorities of younger generations listen to radio. He referenced a survey conducted by an EWTN affiliate in the Midwest that showed 56 percent of listeners said Catholic radio helped them raise their children, 58 percent were motivated to become more involved in their parish and community, 127 people said Catholic radio helped save their marriage, 78 said it played a part in their conversion to the faith and 129 young people said they were inspired to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Lee introduced Christopher Check, president of Catholic Answers, the largest lay-run apologetics and evangelization organization in the English-speaking world and producer of the leading national radio show, Catholic Answers Live. Check’s brother is Father Paul Check, rector of St. John Fisher Seminary.

Check, who came from San Diego, spoke of the obligation that confirmed Catholics have to evangelize and encouraged the audience to contribute to the station. He said, “Because of Catholic radio in this diocese, people are going to come back to the Church and people are going to come into the Church. And your vocations are going to increase—we have drawers full of testimonies from seminarians and priests who say to us Catholic radio was important in the formation of their vocation.”

Peter Hosinski of Stamford, who is a supporter of the station, said, “It’s fabulous that they are bringing Catholic radio to Fairfield County. It will bring benefits far beyond the Catholic community and provide tools that will help people cope with life. It will also give them the answers they are not finding in the secular culture.”

There are currently 380 EWTN affiliates in the United States. After operations begin in Fairfield County, Lee believes the network can expand further into Westchester County and New York City and eventually throughout Connecticut.

Veritas will have a presence at parish festivals, school fairs, sporting events and conferences at Catholic colleges and universities. Some morning drive-time shows he plans to produce will feature a rotating cast of clergy, including Bishop Caggiano, parish and school news, and programs for young people and religious communities in the area.

Listeners will also be able to live stream through the website and an app that is being developed.

Lee, who left his job in finance on Wall Street, says the past two years have presented him with trials and challenges … and rewards. He credits his wife Roula with providing him spiritual and moral support.

“This whole thing started when I was driving into work July 2017, listening to an EWTN program, and the head of EWTN radio came on and said, ‘If you want to bring EWTN radio to your area, call me.’”

The next day Lee called him and said, “I don’t really know why I am calling you, but I heard you on the radio.”

In September 2017, Lee incorporated Veritas and shortly after met with Bishop Caggiano.

In his office, there is a statue of the Blessed Mother, carved out of cedar from the Holy Land, which was given to him by Bishop Caggiano. He calls her “Our Lady of the Lights.” Nearby, he has a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux, given to him by the wife of the manager of the EWTN affiliate in Omaha, wishing him success in his venture.

Lee says his goal is a simple one: “To make Jesus really happy with what we are doing.”