Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 10, 2001
Even you can change the world
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Father James Keller, founder of The Christophers, was a visionary who determined to use the media - print, radio and television - to spread his message: each one of us can make a difference for the better and each of us uniquely matters.
These ideas resonated strongly in the minds and hearts of countless people.
Starting in 1952, Keller used television in a particularly powerful way.
Through interviews with interesting and accomplished persons, famous and less so, he encouraged viewers to see that each life counts, that none of us is an accident or a mistake, that as long as we live, we possess the possibility of improving the world.
Since 2002 will mark 50 years of Christopher television, we decided to go back to Hollywood, a place Father Keller visited often, to produce new Christopher Closeup programs.
Our guests were 12 people we've come to admire and appreciate through the years. Let me tell you some of the outstanding stories they had to tell.
Comedian Dom DeLuise is one of the funniest people alive. He spoke of the hope laughter brings. Dom believes that you don't have to do amazing things for people in need, that small things matter more. The ability to draw laughter or a smile can be a great gift to those who are sad or disheartened.
His words reminded me of Mother Teresa's famous lesson: "Peace begins with a smile." In so many ways, joyous Dom De- Luise is a true peacemaker.
Lou Ferrigno, known to most as The Incredible Hulk, was a poignant and inspiring guest. He told us about losing most of his hearing as a child. For years, his disability made him feel embarrassed and ashamed.
But his parents, a gentle mother and a strong-willed father, would not allow Lou to give in to emotional paralysis. Instead, they sent young Lou to a school that would strengthen and empower him.
Lou came to know, as he told us, "that every one of us is disabled or handicapped in one way or another. For some that disability is physical. For others, it is emotional. But no disability needs to make us give up on living life fully."
Now starring in the TV series The King of Queens, he lives that lesson each day.
Chrystee Pharris is a beautiful young African-American actress. Formerly on the inspiring WBTV series 7th Heaven, she now stars in the NBC series Passions.
But it almost didn't happen. Early in her career, Chrystee was offered a major movie role at a time she badly needed employment. This would be her big break. Finally she'd be able to pay her rent.
Then she read the script. As a person of faith and morals, Chrystee was crestfallen. The part called for nudity. Believing that was wrong, she decided not to accept this part.
Her agent warned her that a chance like this might not come again. In tearful prayers, Chrystee Pharris promised the Lord that she'd hold fast to her promise. No part was worth her dignity.
Two days later, another script appeared at Chrystee's doorstep. It was an equally important opportunity and she would not need to compromise her beliefs and values. Chrystee has been true to her God. She felt God was faithful to her as well.
Whatever our role in life, we are all asked to be faithful to God and to our best selves.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Everyday Ethics, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St, New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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