CatholicMom.com Audio Spotlight
Altar Gang Brings the Catholic Mass to Life

by Diane Morey Hanson


Editor's Note:  I had the opportunity to listen to this delightful new CD this week and can't say enough about how great it is!  Not only will you and your child learn so much - you'll be entertained in the process!  The story of “He’s Coming!” is perfectly timed to help your child engage your child in the season of Advent.  You'll find yourself humming along to the many catchy tunes and listening as the story unfolds.  I am very happy to recommend “He’s Coming!”   Click here to purchase this CD through our Catholic Company Store and support CatholicMom.com!

Listen to an audio sample : Play Audio Clip

 

 



Click here to purchase this CD through our Catholic Company Store and support CatholicMom.com!

Let’s be honest: just how many Catholic adults know what an aspergillum, ciborium, thurible and ambo are? If the answers elude most readers, fear not, you’re in good company and fortunately there’s a new CD available that will teach not only adults, but kids too. This CD comes with a bonus as well — a plethora of information including the weekly Sunday readings, the seasons of the Church year, saints, prayers and moral lessons all wrapped into one highly entertaining package.

“He’s Coming!” is the first episode in what will eventually be a series of lively, weekly, half-hour escapades of the Altar Gang, a zany group of altar and other church paraphernalia that come to life when God answers the prayers for help of a holy priest inundated with the duties of running his parish.

Appropriately, the very beginning of the series features the season of Advent and preparations necessary for Jesus’s coming. With characters like Pete the Chalice, Skiff the incense holder (unfortunately allergic to the new Christmas incense he carries), and AJ the Aspergillum (a holy water sprinkling device), the meaning of Advent unfolds through the escapades and foibles of the unlikely band of helpers.

The brainchild of Brian Shields, producer of the project who also acted in and served as producer of the movie Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Altar Gang project developed partly because of his great love for children.

“Children are our future, the future of the Church,” said Shields, himself the father of three young children who founded the parent company, Lumen (Latin for light), Entertainment for Eternity in December 2003. The corporation is comprised of professionals in the entertainment industry that share a common vision of using art to evangelize the culture with the truths of the Catholic faith.

“My own love for Christ was my greatest motivation,” added Shields. “And I want kids to learn about, love and appreciate their faith. Personally, I’ve always learned best when I’m having fun and that’s what we tried to do with this series.”

That’s something they achieve in a delightful way with the Altar Gang concept.

“The Altar Gang is cleverly conceived and masterfully executed,” said Rebecca Militante, a Catholic elementary school teacher in Jacksonville, Florida. “Comedy and great music are interwoven with a simple Advent message: ‘Get ready, He's coming!’ I believe that both children and adults will love it as much as I did.”

And that’s part of the draw of this faith-filled educational CD ingeniously disguised as entertainment. The musical interludes, far-ranging array of voices from the high-pitched Mimi the Altar Cloth to the deep soothing baritone of Mo the Ambo, and humorous adventures of the Gang in their efforts to assist Father, will capture children’s imaginations.

But beware parents and grandparents — you may find yourself chuckling at the antics of these personified church objects and pausing to join the younger crowd. Some things are obviously geared for the appreciation of older folks, like the comments of Big John, the Baptismal Font, spoken in a John Wayne drawl, and Guido the Organ, with the distinct vernacular of the Godfather, who offers a plate of Advent spaghetti too good to refuse.

While the messages of the Altar Gang are geared primarily for six- to twelve-year-olds, younger children will love the music and the voices and older children as well as adults may be quite surprised by how much they learn.

One thing that may be helpful is to click onto Track 11 first to hear the cast of characters before delving into the storyline.

Shields and Lumen Entertainment plan to produce the next four episodes of the Altar Gang series in 2005, dealing with such things as forgiveness, the Eucharist and other major Catholic sacraments and virtues.

In the second year of production, plans are to create an audio CD episode for each Sunday Mass that follows the church theme of the week.

And by 2007, the goal is to begin animating the series in video production.

“My prayer is that God will richly bless Lumen Entertainment to produce enjoyable and quality entertainment that nurtures the Catholic Faith in our children and their families,” said the Most Reverend Victor Galeone, Bishop of Saint Augustine in Jacksonville.

That’s just what Brian Shields and his co-workers are praying for too.

To learn more about the Altar Gang Series, visit www.lumen.tv 

Click here to purchase this CD through our Catholic Company Store and support CatholicMom.com!

(This article is reprinted with permission of Lumen Entertainment.)