Anne-Marie Welsh

Msgr. Kieran Harrington of DeSales Media interviews Bishop Lawrence Persico of the
Diocese of Erie, for his appearance in The Chair: A conversation with today's apostles.
Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

ERIE — What can you tell us about your childhood? When did you first discern your call to the priesthood? What excites you the most about the future of the Catholic Church?

          Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico reflected on these questions and many more during an interview with Msgr. Kieran Harrington, vicar for communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, during a videotaped interview at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, June 29. Msgr. Harrington was in the diocese in his capacity as president and chairman of the award-winning DeSales Media, a Catholic technology and communications ministry affiliated with the Diocese of Brooklyn. The organization, which offers news and information from a Catholic perspective, is in the middle of an ambitious nationwide project designed to help people know and understand the bishops of the United States.

          “We wanted to do a television series presenting the bishops as men of faith so that the people of the diocese and beyond could get to know who the shepherds of the United States are,” Msgr. Harrington told the Diocese of EriE-News during an interview after completing his morning of work with Bishop Persico.

          “So often what people hear about is a bishop’s responsibilities in governance: the transfer of a pastor, the closure of a parish or school,” Msgr. Harrington said. “So what we wanted to explore was, ‘How does this person grapple with questions of faith? How did he become the person he is?’”

          Bishop Persico was the 65th bishop to be interviewed for the series, which will be available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Prime beginning in October. DeSales Media plans to visit approximately 78 dioceses, creating eight, 10-episode seasons.

          The three-person production team from DeSales Media spent three days in Erie shooting footage of the cathedral and the region in addition to the interview itself. They used a drone inside and outside of the cathedral and throughout the region, capturing stunning visuals during what turned out to be among the best weather of the summer so far.

          The series, called The Chair: A conversation with today’s apostles, features bishops as well as archivists or historians knowledgeable about each cathedral. Michael Gallagher, a parishioner at St. Peter Cathedral who volunteers his time giving tours of the cathedral that include insights into its history, also will be featured.

Msgr. Kieran Harrington, president and chairman,
DeSales Media, at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie.  
Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

      The program shot in Erie will stand out because the cathedral is in the midst of its most significant restoration in a century. The chair — or cathedra — at St. Peter Cathedral, the very symbol of the bishop’s authority, was brought out from under several layers of plastic for the occasion, although its setting, including the bishop’s coat of arms, remained hidden. The producers were not concerned about the renovation, however, finding it to be evidence of the faith alive and growing in the region.

          According to the information developed around the series to date, The Chair “celebrates the best of Catholicism today, springing from the physical beauty of our cathedrals to the holy beauty of the bishop and his faith. By focusing on the bishop, we gain the insights of Christ's apostle in our midst, learning about his vocation, his diocese and how he is shaping the future in this time of change.”

          Watch for details on how to view the episode focused on the Diocese of Erie — as well as the entire series — in announcements released by the Diocese of Erie this fall.