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RENEW International Showcases 'Scenes from a Parish'

Contact: Deirdre Trabert Malacrea, RENEW International, 908-769-5400 ext 126

MEDIA ADVISORY, Oct. 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- The challenges and blessings of contemporary parish life are on full display in the documentary film "Scenes from a Parish" and RENEW International invites parishes everywhere to explore these themes with a special faith-sharing edition DVD and guide.

"Scenes from a Parish" offers a rare and compelling glimpse into one parish's experience as it struggles to reconcile ideals of faith with the realities of today's changing and diverse culture. Director James Rutenbeck spent four years capturing the people and places in and around St. Patrick's Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts. This working-class city home to generations of Northern European descent has, in recent years, attracted a new wave of immigrants from Latin America and beyond.

"The film presents scenes from a parish, but it also tells the story of all parishes facing changing economics, demographics, and attitudes. I am thrilled to be working with RENEW International to bring this film and guide to parishes," remarked Rutenbeck, the award-winning independent filmmaker.

"Scenes from a Parish" has captured media attention and positive reviews since its original airing on the PBS showcase, "Independent Lens." Boston Globe called the film "surpassingly lucid." Booklist dubbed it "a surefire discussion starter for religious and community groups and college classrooms."

With the special Faith-Sharing Edition DVD produced and offered in collaboration with Catholic organization RENEW International, members of parishes and their surrounding communities have the opportunity to view, reflect upon, and share faith on important themes of welcoming the stranger, compassion, and feeding the hungry. The DVD presents the full-length film in English with Spanish subtitles, plus special faith-sharing clips and bonus features from the filmmaker.

Reverend Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J., executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lauds the film's potential for prompting dialogue. "The characters, scenes, images and storyline of this film offer such a rich and provocative source of reflection and prayer. The underlying story of 'Scenes from a Parish' deeply concerns who we truly are as a community and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ," Father Figueroa said.

The companion film faith-sharing guides, one each in English and Spanish packaged with each DVD, are designed for parishioners to use while viewing and discussing the film. With scriptural references, reflection questions, and special scene sequences incorporated into each session, parishioners are invited to journey with the members of this on-screen faith community and explore what being a Christian in today's world really means.

Sr. Theresa Rickard, O.P., president and executive director of RENEW International, encourages all parishes to take advantage of this innovative new resource. "RENEW International looks for fresh and relevant ways to help people encounter God and connect faith with daily life. People today respond to film and media because they literally bring important topics to life. We hope 'Scenes from a Parish' will be a blessing to all who view it and share faith," Sr. Terry commented.

For more information about, or to order, the Scenes from a Parish Faith-Sharing Edition DVD and Guide from RENEW International, please visit www.renewintl.org/scenes.

About RENEW International
RENEW International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization operating under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey for the past three decades and in 24 countries. RENEW International fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action. Visit RENEW on the web at