What do you do when you’re not impressed with the documentaries on a subject that’s near and dear to your heart?
If you’re Bill Snyder, you make your own.
Snyder, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Milwaukee and the founder of Patchwork Heart Ministry, recently produced a documentary on the Shroud of Turin, “Who Do You Say I Am?”
Two years in the making, Snyder interviewed Shroud experts Richard Bernatchez and Bryan Walsh. Kent Kuholski, the founder of Fiat Ministry Network and co-executive producer of the film, and Snyder conducted interviews with the participants of the traveling Man of the Shroud Exhibit.
While he acknowledges there are many documentaries on the Shroud, Snyder recalled watching several of them at his grandmother’s house during Easter celebrations and found them somewhat uninspiring.
“These programs were usually on secular TV channels, and I always found them lackluster, because they were not produced from a Catholic perspective,” Snyder said. “Kent and I are unapologetically Catholic, and so are both Richard Bernatchez and Bryan Walsh. That comes through loud and clear in this film. We don’t water down our faith.”
The two-night world premiere of the movie will be Feb. 21 and 22 at Inspiration Studios, 1500 S. 73rd St., West Allis. The screening time for both nights is 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Snyder. Tickets are available for purchase at patchworkheart.org/shroud-film.
Many understand the Shroud of Turin to be the burial cloth of Jesus.
For years, its authenticity has been the subject of debate and investigation among historians, scientists and the faithful. Some see it as a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection, while others believe in its legitimacy based on copious studies supporting this claim.
Snyder, a three-time open heart surgery survivor, is among those convinced of the Shroud’s authenticity. Based on the belief that we all have a God-sized hole in our hearts and that we can only be healed if we completely trust and hope in Jesus, the divine physician, Patchwork Heart Ministry aims to be divine physician assistants, helping young people in opening their hearts to receive God’s mercy and love.
The movie brings viewers on a journey through the history of the shroud.
“We present scientific facts through the lens of faith and establish a compelling narrative that will keep viewers captivated,” Snyder said. “This film will inspire skeptics and deepen the faith of those who already believe.”
Creating this film was important to Snyder. He credits the recent buzz phrase of “follow the science” with his impetus to create a thorough and accurate study and chronology of the shroud.
“So instead of using that phrase for personal or political gain, I want to provide Catholic scientists and researchers a platform to showcase their decades of faithful study of relics and miracles,” he said. “In addition, I think Catholics need to recreate the media culture. We need to start employing the media to promote virtue instead of vice.”
In working on this documentary, Snyder experienced several challenges, such as the shocking erasure of an entire hard drive, filming conflicts and weather disrupting the team’s travel plans.
“It almost goes without saying that Satan dislikes what we are doing, but God is good, and we have persevered through the trials,” he said. “I hope that people gain a deeper understanding of the power of Christ’s sacrifice and that it moves them to a deeper faith in Jesus and helps to realize and actualize his grace working in their lives.”
Those who have previewed the documentary have called it “powerful and life-changing” and expressed hope that dioceses throughout the country and beyond share the video.
Snyder explained that like Jesus asked his apostles, they are also posing this question to the viewer: “Who do you say I am?”
“Our experts not only lay out the science, but they answer the question themselves, as faithful disciples of Jesus,” he said. “Honestly, you won’t hear that on a documentary about the Shroud on the History Channel. In addition, we interview participants of the traveling Man of the shroud exhibit, and they answer the question of ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ I think that capturing this is truly what makes this documentary unique, moving and powerful.”
In addition to promoting the film nationwide, Snyder hopes parishes, schools and organizations offer it during the Lenten and Easter liturgical seasons.
“The film is about an hour long, followed by an hour-long discussion in small groups,” said Snyder. “We are offering parishes and groups a companion guide to help facilitate conversations. We want this to be a conversation starter, an opportunity for fellowship and a way to grow in faith.”