Page 9, 5th September 2008

5th September 2008
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Page 9, 5th September 2008 — to pray every day with one heart and soul
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to pray every day with one heart and soul

introduce hundreds of thousands of Christians across the planet to the beauty and joy of participating in the daily prayer of the Church

INTERVIEW

ENGLISH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF MAGNIFICAT

For Fr Peter John Cameron OP the call from M Dumont asking whether he might be interested in working with Magnificat came as a surprise. The Dominican friar, who has been Magnificat's English version editor-in-chief for the last 10 years, says it was serendipity. A mutual acquaintance, a young Dutch journalist who was very involved in the world of Catholic publishing, was the link between the two men. Joop Koopman, who had edited the

National Catholic Register, an American Catholic magazine, liad also done some freelance work in his native Europe. M Dumont, intent on launching Magnifica: in the United States, had the investor for the project and just needed the team. He approached Mr Koopman who recommended Fr Cameron with whom he had worked on the National Catholic Register.

"I'd known loop from my days working at the National Catholic Register as a contributing editor," says Fr Cameron. "At one point I was writing a weekly column on the Sunday scripture which I did for two years."

As editor-in-chief. he oversees the production of the Magnificat books in the United States, chooses and commissions the meditations and writes the foreword every month. In addition to the work he does with Magnificat he also teaches, and writes plays and books.

"There is something organic about all of it,he says. "The way I teach preaching is the way I do playwriting. I didn't really have a sense of what made preaching good until I studied playwriting and saw.

"What the playwright does for the audience is not that different from what the preacher is attempting to do. 'There's a different component to it because it is inspired but on a human level it's the very same, getting people to listen. But it's not just to convey information but it's to bring them to a deeper conviction and to move them.

"Studying playwriting has certainly helped my preaching and all of that has informed the way I approach the work at Magnificat."

Since his ordination to the priesthood 22 years ago he has done a number of things as a priest, though principally now he focuses on Magnificat and on his teaching. A member of the Dominican Province of St Joseph, which stretches across the north-east and includes New York City, he is now an adjunct professor at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC where he teaches homiletics.

"I teach there when I need to but I also give a lot of workshops and conferences for priests on preaching." he says. "I'm actually just finishing a book on the theology of preaching that's going to come out in the spring. So I spend a lot of time researching and on the road."

Before that Fr Cameron taught homiletics at St Joseph's, Dunwoodie, the Archdiocese of New York's largest seminary, for 10 years during which he founded the Blackfriars Repertory • Fr Cameron (pictured above) has been quoted in interviews referring to Magnificat subscribers as the "Magnificat family". He says that subscribers have been known to make anxious telephone calls if their monthly copy of the prayerbook is a couple of days late.

• Fr Cameron edited Praying with St Paul, a book of reflections on the writings of the Apostle which came out this year to celebrate the Year of St Paul. By the end of the first two months of its publication the book had sold 54,000 copies. Fr Cameron says: "Praying with St Paul offers a kind of lectio divina — a 'spiritual reading' — of Paul's letters by which one can go deeply into the mind and heart of this illustrious saint."

• Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York, blessed the new Magnificat offices in Yonkers in May 2007. Cardinal Egan said he had been to Yonkers, a town in the state of New York, "to bless the new offices of a splendid and muchadmired publication known as Magnificat".

Theatre in 1998, a small Catholic theatre company based in Manhattan. He is still its artistic director.

He explains: "I have a background in theatre, both my undergraduate degree I now use to direct a theatre company that is under the auspices of the province. We try to do two or three things a year. We are hoping to do a small one-man play commemorating the year of St Paul. During Lent we might do an established writer that has to do with the Passion. We're hoping to collaborate with another theatre company to do a Catholic theatre festival in the summertime."

The theatre has been one of the ova-whelrning passions of Fr Cameron's life and he majored in theatre during his undergraduate degree at the Providence College, Rhode Island. After finishing his theological studies and earning an STL from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception he returned to his love of theatre to earn an MFA in playwriting from the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. Fr Cameron has written over 12 plays. His first play, Full of Grace, was performed in showcase at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. r "I always had an interest in religious life and my parents were very aware of the Dominicans because they ran three parishes near us,he says. "When I expressed my interest to my parents they suggested the Dominicans and I went to Providence College sort of on the premise that I was checking out the Dominicans. I had the good fortune to meet Fr Romanus Cessario who is also an editor of Magnificat. We have been really good friends since we met over 30 years ago."

Fr Cessario is the senior editor at Magnificat and teaches sacramental and moral theology at St John's Seminary.

F. Cameron would later return to teach at Providence College as an associate professor of theatre. He was also the managing director of the college theatre between 1988 and 1990.A brief stint in the film industry saw Fr Cameron serve as director of creatiire affairs for Paulist Productions for two years before he was posted to Ohio for a short period. He was then assigned to New York University where he became director of campus ministry.

"In a way its very strange that M Dumont asked me to do this because I am not a professional journalist," he reflects. "I am not a professional editor. I do not hold a doctorate in theology. I mean I don't really have any solid credentials for what I am doing, but I'm doing it anyway.

"I love doing it and M Dumont and I work well together. I have a huge respect for him and he has a vision for the Church that is rare."




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