By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Dressed in a dark suit and flower corsage reminiscent of Marlon Brando’s Godfather character, family and youth minister Nathan Clark addresses a concern faced by many during Lent: what to cook on Fridays.
“So you come to me at Lent and say, ‘Give me pizza, give me hamburgers, give me chicken nuggets,’” he emotes to viewers on a YouTube video in the Godfather’s trademark rasp. “No! Mama mia! It’s-a Lent!”
Clark, family and youth minister at St. Mary Parish-West Point, St. Boniface Parish-Farmington, St. John Parish-Houghton and St. James Parish-St. Paul, then offers viewers an offer they “can’t refuse”: meatless recipes from around the world, demonstrated by youths from the parishes’ In Via Youth Ministry. The video concludes with youths assembling Guatemalan bean tostadas.
The video, available on the YouTube channels of In Via and the Diocese of Davenport, promotes Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl, the annual Lenten collection to address hunger and poverty locally and abroad. Each year, 75% of Rice Bowl collections help ease hunger in vulnerable countries. The remaining 25% percent helps ease food insecurity in the Davenport Diocese.
In Via will release more videos during Lent to showcase recipes from countries CRS serves. The recipes will include dahl from Bangladesh and agatogo from Rwanda. In each video, different groups of youths will prepare the recipes on-camera with their families and friends.
The video project originated with an idea that deacon candidate Mike Linnenbrink said the Holy Spirit placed on his heart during a recent road trip. Linnenbrink, who formerly served as youth minister of the four parishes, has been working with the diocesan CRS chapter as part of his deacon formation. He thought the videos could help youths promote the Rice Bowl collection on the local level while offering a template for ministries elsewhere to emulate.
He reached out to Clark, originally suggesting a “Heaven’s Kitchen” theme inspired by the popular Hell’s Kitchen show. Clark loved the idea, but couldn’t make a passable Gordon Ramsay impression.
“I couldn’t do the British accent very well. I was trying to think of a character I could do. I love the Godfather movies and I love that character, so I knew I’d be able to tie it in,” Clark said. He admitted to The Catholic Messenger that he was a little embarrassed to perform his Godfather impression in front of people outside his family, but he was willing to do it if it meant helping the youths bring attention to the Rice Bowl collection.
Clark said the creation and promotion of the videos has been a team effort. Tony Forlini, webmaster and videographer for the Diocese of Davenport and for The Catholic Messenger, offered to edit the videos. Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action and a member of the diocesan CRS chapter, suggested promoting the videos on the diocesan level.
“It is a local expression of support for a global effort,” Ferris said. The youths “express enthusiasm for what they understand is their part to play, the preparation of a simple meal, money saved as a result donated to help international programs. Making Nathan’s video available to others in the diocese allows others to see what is possible in promoting this Lenten campaign.”