By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A Catholic mother of six and popular radio show host was appalled when she heard that Catholics serving in the military sometimes go for months with the Sacraments, and decided to launch “Frontline Faith,” a brand new apostolate that provides MP3 players to soldiers in the field that are equipped with Catholic programming.
The National Catholic Register is reporting that Cheri Lomonte of Lakeway, Texas, host of the “Mary’s Touch” radio show that is heard on more than 80 stations throughout the U.S., couldn’t bear the thought of so many soldiers going without the sacraments for so long.
“I just couldn’t believe, at this crucial time, they wouldn’t have a priest,” she told the Register. “There are over 300,000 Catholics serving in the U.S. armed forces and just 280 chaplains. Some of them, especially those serving in the field, have little to no access to a priest, the sacraments or even the understanding and support of fellow Catholics.”
Relying on her background and contacts in the broadcasting field, she put together a package of Catholic programming for MP3 players that soldiers can carry with them into the field. Calling her new mission “Frontline Faith,” she then went to work raising funds to produce the first 1,000 MP3 players which were distributed to soldiers awaiting deployment.
Lomonte’s mission has the support of the Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services who has two programs on the MP3.
In keeping with the strong Marian flavor of Lomonte’s radio show, which features interviews with people who have experienced Mary’s intercession in their lives, the MP3 player also contains 11 stories of American combatants who were aided by the Mother of God.
One story, told by theologian Marcellino D’Ambrosio, recounts how his father was forced to ditch his B-24 in the English Channel during World War II and was miraculously picked up in a dinghy just after praying to Mary for help.
“The MP3 player also contains nine thank-you letters from students at the Cathedral School of St. Mary in Austin, Texas; a sermon preached by Bishop Fulton Sheen to soldiers of an earlier era urging them to be ‘centurions of Rome’; a sermon from Father Larry Richards on the meaning of the Mass; the Sorrowful Mysteries prayed aloud, and several hymns and meditations,” the Register reports.
So far, Lomonte has received 3,000 requests for the MP3 players and she is busy raising funds to expand the project.
Organizations that serve the spiritual needs of soldiers are praising the project.
“We have no problem with what Frontline Faith is doing, because they are only reaching out to Catholics,” said Christine Rodda, a spokeswoman for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to the Register.
Rodda admits her organization never had any complaints about Catholic proselytizing, but says she has fielded “thousands” of calls from Catholics complaining about fundamentalist Protestant chaplains proselytizing them.
She suggests that Catholics should petition the Armed Forces Network to include a Mass each Sunday for Catholic troops. As it stands now, the network carries four fundamentalist Protestant programs, but no Catholic programs.
For more information, visit the Frontline Faith website.
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