Fr. Carlos Gomez speaks with Fr. Ernesto Reynoso Jan. 16 during the second broadcast of "Catholic Essence," a new, locally-produced Catholic radio show on 740 AM, Radio en Familia. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)
Fr. Carlos Gomez speaks with Fr. Ernesto Reynoso Jan. 16 during the second broadcast of “Catholic Essence,” a new, locally-produced Catholic radio show on 740 AM, Radio en Familia. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Phoenix area now have a radio station all their own at 740 AM.

Radio en Familia began broadcasting last month, featuring Christmas carols in Spanish. On Jan. 15, the station launched a new program, “Catholic Essence,” hosted by Fr. Ernesto Reynoso.

The interactive, catechetical show is broadcast during what’s known as the “golden hour” in the world of radio: 8-9 a.m., Monday through Friday, when people are driving to work or dropping off their children at school. Many potential listeners have jobs where they listen to the radio, so the show will be aimed at them as well.

Each day one of five priests from the Diocese of Phoenix will come in and offer a teaching. Fr. Charles Goraieb, pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, is one the five who was selected for the program. He said the radio station is a way to reach out to Hispanics in the diocese and invigorate their faith.

“It’s a wise investment,” Fr. Goraieb said.  “It’s a pastoral move that gives us an opportunity to address the Hispanic community, to bring them a variety of programs that will inform and inspire them and let them experience Catholic culture.”

Fr. Ernesto Reynoso will host “Catholic Essence” from 8-9 a.m. on 740 AM, Radio en Familia. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)
Fr. Ernesto Reynoso will host “Catholic Essence” from 8-9 a.m. on 740 AM, Radio en Familia. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

“Catholic Essence” is divided into three 17-minute segments. The first segment highlights local news and information about the universal Church. During the second segment, the priest who is the guest that day presents a teaching. In the third segment, listeners are able to call in with their questions.

The show deals with everything having to do with Catholic life, from sacraments to moral theology, what Catholics believe, the Theology of the Body, apologetics and more.

“We’re trying to make it as fruitful as possible,” Fr. Goraieb said. “There’s a great catechetical need among the Hispanic community.” Fr. Goraieb hopes the station’s programming will help address those needs.

“There are different shows throughout the day we hope will help them more fully identify with and live the Catholic faith, and to answer some of their questions, to refute some of the doubts that have been sown by proselytizers,” Fr. Goraieb said.

Fr. Sergio Fita, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Gilbert, Fr. Carlos Gomez, pastor of St. Augustine Parish and his parochial vicar, Fr. Jose Ballesteros, will also be regular co-hosts of “Catholic Essence.”

Fr. Reynoso said that he thinks the debut of Radio en Familia is an answer to prayer.

“I believe it’s an action of the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Reynoso said. “We’ve been praying for many years about having a radio station in Spanish for formation for our people.”

The pieces finally fell into place recently and Fr. Reynoso said one of the objectives of the new radio station’s programming is to let Hispanics know they are a blessing for the United States.

“Hispanics bring a lot of family unity and they bring a lot of cultural and social events,” Fr. Reynoso said. “We bring faith into the community. The main idea is to keep forming and defending family values that are being affected by secular society.”

The whole idea behind Radio en Familia, he emphasized, is to strengthen the family.

The radio station, Fr. Reynoso said, “will be a good way for people who cannot visit their families — those who for whatever reason cannot go back to their original country — to feel that they belong to the family of the universal Church.”

Cristofer Pereyra, who was once a reporter for Channel 33, a Phoenix Spanish-language television station, is producing and hosting a second one-hour program that airs Monday through Friday on Radio en Familia at 9 a.m. The program also debuted Jan. 15.

Pereyra’s show, dubbed C Mayúscula, Spanish for “Capital C,” a nod to the term “Catholic,” opens with a news segment before jumping to a guest who tells listeners about the saint of the day.

That guest — or a second invitee — takes up a topic of interest to Catholics in the following segment and takes calls from local listeners. One day each week will be devoted to the topic of sexuality. That, Pereyra said, should keep the phones ringing.

“What we want to do is have programming that will help our listeners grow spiritually and as human beings,” Pereyra said. “We are going to be a lot like Immaculate Heart Radio in some respects but not in others.”

Programming will be supported by pledges and will feature priests, the Mass and the rosary, he said.

“We’ll also have psychologists and people who will be motivators,” Pereyra said. ✴