Several Mondays a month, from 9 a.m. to noon, Fr. Noberto Sandoval, associate pastor at St. Roman Parish, Milwaukee, sits at a table in a small, soundproof room in the basement of the Cousins Center. Amid some cabinets, a sink, and a dorm room sized refrigerator only one aspect of the room important to him – its microphones. These are all he needs to carry his voice miles from the pulpit to Spanish-speaking congregations.
Fr. Sandoval conducts interviews and voices segments that are the contents of Viviendo Nuestra Fe (Living Our Faith), a half-hour Spanish language radio program, he hosts. Having debuted Saturday, Aug. 8, it airs on 97.9 FM La Caliente/1460 AM simultaneously Saturdays at 10 a.m., and on La GranD 104.7 FM on Sundays at 7:30 a.m. It will also air on Radio Maria throughout the week.
Funded by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee through the Catholic Stewardship Appeal, a grant from the National Catholic Society of Foresters and other sources, it aims to be the voice of the archdiocese on the airwaves for the Spanish-speaking.
According to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry, released in October 2012, there were an estimated 134,000 Hispanics living within the geographic boundaries of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2010, with about 81,000 of them identifying as Catholic.
“The beginning of the program is just to give our brothers and sisters the Good News of Jesus Christ,” Fr. Sandoval said, explaining he reads the Gospel and offers a brief reflection in the first seven minutes of the program.
The media carry much influence, especially in the Hispanic community, said Fr. Sandoval, explaining, “When (Latinos) get to work, one of the first things they turn on is the radio.”
After the opening segment, he introduces guests who talk about events in the archdiocese and at parishes. But this isn’t just a local church radio show. It also addresses marriage, domestic violence, immigration and peace and justice.
“We talk about all of those issues that we heard in English, but (which) also are part of our Hispanic community,” Fr. Sandoval said.
A native of Venezuela, Fr. Sandoval studied journalism in college and worked in public relations and advertising.
“That was my profession before I decided to become a priest,” he said. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2005.
Before Viviendo Nuestra Fe, the previous Spanish-only Catholic show was one hour on La GranD, hosted by then-Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying. Occasionally, Fr. Sandoval would fill in for the bishop.
“I am very vocal,” Fr. Sandoval said with a laugh. “That’s what’s helped me to go through the radio program. I can express the soul of Jesus Christ without any problem. I just say, ‘God, this is the Holy Spirit that’s going to work in me.’”
Eventually he was tapped by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki to be host of the new show.
“To be the voice of Archbishop Listecki is a lot of responsibility,” he said, adding he sometimes gets nervous. “Nervous, for me, gives me the opportunity to be more spontaneous and more active. I get more energy.”
On Monday, Aug. 17, Fr. Sandoval interviewed Deacon Jorge Benavente, associate for Hispanic Ministry for the archdiocese, about the diaconate program. The conversation, for the show which aired the week of Sept. 12, eventually turned to Deacon Benavente and his journey from Nicaragua to the United States several decades ago. He and his family left because of policitical reasons and settled in the United States where he originally worked cleaning bathrooms.
Viviendo Nuestra Fe will allow members of the archdiocese to share their personal stories in order to create an intimate relationship with listeners, said Deacon Benavente.
“My story is exactly the same story that many immigrants have,” he said. “I am nothing special. My story is the story of anybody … people should know that we are like them.”
Deacon Benavente called the show a great way to educate people on broader archdiocesan programs such as the Archdiocesan Synod and the Hispanic Pastoral Plan.
“This is an excellent tool to broadcast all the work of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee,” he said. “This is a new era. It is more integrated directly into the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”
Deacon Benavente hopes the show will engage the audience that doesn’t go to Mass.
“We hope that the people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee participate in the parochial life,” he said.
Fr. Sandoval said he is following in the footsteps of the great journalists that have come before him.
“The first journalist in the whole world was Jesus Christ,” he said. “He was able to capture many, many people.”
He added that Jesus had a message and was able to effectively spread that message to a large audience.
“I’m following in his footsteps,” the priest said. “I found my passion.”
Fr. Sandoval closes the program with the same words each week.
“Nos vemos en Misa,” which translates, “We’ll see you at Mass.”
“If they don’t remember anything of the program, they will remember that phrase, ‘See you at Mass,’” he said.