“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”: the Bible is consistent in its message that it is our duty to spread the word of God. The technological age brings new challenges, though, and the Church is constantly attempting to adapt while retaining its essence. Even Pope Francis has Twitter. And now, in the small parish of Gosport in Hampshire, three friars and three priests have come together to create Radio Immaculata, one of the first Catholic internet radio stations in the country, which broadcasts at radioimmaculata.org.
On paper, a digital Catholic radio station sounds decidedly modern. I am therefore surprised when Friar Rosario Joseph Mary, one of the six clergy who founded Radio Immaculata, shows me a minuscule room with whitewashed walls, no bigger than a cupboard, and tells me that this is the heart of the station, which has amassed more than 1,000 listeners since its launch in December last year.
Fra Rosario is tall and surprisingly young with a warm, open face and an air of slight nervousness. “We are still growing,” he says, before telling me that the aim isn’t necessarily to increase audience figures.
“I wouldn’t aspire to worldwide broadcast, but that would be nice, though,” he laughs. Instead, Radio Immaculata is all about spreading the word. And despite the relatively low audience numbers, there are listeners in Nigeria, Barbados, Italy, Kuala Lumpur and America, tuning in to listen to the debates, conferences, Mass, music and drama series – all broadcast from this tiny cell in Gosport.
The room is extremely basic, with two computer screens (one showing the 24-hour schedule), two microphones and two statues of Our Lady. It quickly becomes apparent that Radio Immaculata is not concerned with the modern but instead with transmitting the message of Christ.
Radio Immaculata was launched on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) by Gosport parish priest Fr Seraphino Maria Lanzetta. The friars and priests responsible for the station believe that it is unique owing to their devotion to Mary.
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