Watch the Trailer
Foreclosing on Faith
Heroic battles, passionate protests and widespread resistance are being witnessed across the United States. But this isn’t politics, it’s a war raging within the Catholic Church to preserve countless spiritual homes. Churches are being shuttered at an alarming rate. At stake are issues of ethnic and cultural identity and the well-being of communities across the land.
The U.S. Catholic Church justifies the closings with claims of shrinking parishes, priest shortages and lack of vibrancy. Some of the faithful cry foul and say it’s all about raising money to balance the budget of the diocese or bankroll sins of the past.
This is impacting ethnic communities as well across America and their struggle is the focus of a new documentary, “Foreclosing on Faith”. The film documents a heroic battle for preserving cultural identity against all odds. One manifestation of cultural identity can be traced to strong ties to churches. These aren’t just buildings with steeples and stained glass, for many, they’re second homes, places of refuge to preserve cultural and historical identity. Every time a church is closed, a small piece of the community fades away. Churches provide a social safety net and that net is unraveling.
At a time when immigration and discrimination have never been more polarizing, this is one conversation people from every community need to start having.
A dramatic struggle is captured in Cleveland, Boston and New York as parishioners fight to save their spiritual homes. Picking up where “Spotlight” left off, “Foreclosing on Faith” uncovers the truth behind church closings and offers solutions to keep the doors to the faithful open. It’s a Catholic documentary version of the recently released “All Saints” in which a small group of refugees tries to save their tiny Episcopal church, condemned for closure.
“Foreclosing on Faith” is a feature documentary produced by Viktoria Somogyi and Jeff MacIntyre, Content Media Group. The estimated release date is late-2017.
The film was funded by the Hungarian Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund’s Patronage Program (MTVA Mecenatúra) and the National Cultural Fund of Hungary (NKA).
Producer | Director | Writer
Viktoria Somogyi is a Hungarian Journalist/Economist living in Rome, Italy. For over a decade, she’s been an Editor for the Hungarian Program of Vatican Radio in Rome. Viktoria also freelances as a Vatican/Rome correspondent for numerous publications, magazines, radio stations, online news agencies and writes for an American Catholic monthly. She established and led the Hungarian edition of H2Onews, multimedia news service (now Aleteia) in Rome. Viktoria has recently published her first book as a co-author at the Vatican Publishing House. The book was selected for the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015.
Producer | Director | Writer | Camera | Editor
Since 1988, Jeff MacIntyre has been producing reality-based/news- formatted television content, infomercials and documentaries. With 38 nominations and 11 Emmy Awards, he believes everyone has a story to tell and, working with ABC News, has traveled the world to bring those stories to light. Assignments have taken him to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central and S. America.
Jeff recently received two Emmys and Edward R. Murrow Awards for the ABC documentary “The Legacy of Heart Mountain”. This is one of the highest honors in broadcast journalism. Jeff’s Los Angeles-based production company, Content Media Group, creates content to excite, engage and inform.
Community building forces are important to protect in today’s fragile world. When more and more people are getting lonely and isolated, local communities offer a safe-haven and comfort for many people. One example of community building forces is churches. For ethnic communities in the process of settling down in the United States, these centers have played an essential role in history. But over past decades, a very destructive and accelerating process has been taking place in the Catholic Church: the closing of these important places – the parishes.
With Jeff MacIntyre, I set out on this journey in 2014 to uncover the reasons behind this disturbing phenomenon and share my findings in a documentary. As a Hungarian journalist, I have spent a month every year in USA since 2006 visiting Hungarian communities, making interviews, trying to understand how these communities live, how they conserve their homeland’s historical and cultural heritage and identity, their ties to it, and what role faith plays in it.
Destroying a home – a spiritual one in the case of these faith communities – causes an enormous shock, inflicting a huge and inestimable crisis on people at many levels, which cannot be underestimated when such decisions are made by the responsible. I wanted to analyze how communities react to these shock waves, and what strategies they apply in response. What interested me most was what those factors are that enable an individual or, in this case a small, seemingly powerless community to come up with a winning strategy to bring them out of a desperate and an extremely disadvantageous, if not life-threatening, situation.
I talk about Catholic communities only because I know them best. We can substitute them with any other religious or non-religious communities. The focus is not on a particular religion but on strategies and survival techniques for small communities.
Following my mother’s advice, “If you can’t build, don’t destroy”, my intention was to give a 360-degree picture of the players involved in such situations. If they chose not to take part, that was their decision; opportunity was given to everyone. With this documentary, my intention was to open and facilitate a dialogue between the parties to arrive at a win-win decision.
Returning from a shoot, on a Sunday, on the highway between Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio, we stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. A complete stranger of Hispanic origin, whom we opened the door for, letting him in before us, paid our check and left a note saying: “Pass it on”. Apart from showing the plight, the suffering of these faith-based groups, my goal is also to pass on to the viewer the generosity and the immense richness of these small, endangered communities and to pass on hope to these afflicted groups.