September 7, 2018

Religious Education Supplement

Other options are available for Catholic streaming services

By Sean Gallagher

In addition to Formed, there are two other streaming services available to Catholics through Ascension and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

Ascension’s streaming service offers the video content of more than 50 of its popular faith formation programs featuring such well-known presenters as Jeff Cavins, Mark Hart and Christopher West. It’s been available in its current format for more than two years and currently has approximately 140,000 users around the world.

Word on Fire’s two streaming services—Digital and Engage—were launched respectively in September 2017 and February of this year.

Digital offers all of its video content featuring the Bishop Robert E. Barron’s popular faith formation presentations and Catholic documentaries, such as the Catholicism series. It is geared for individual subscribers.

Engage helps parish staff members send Word on Fire videos to its members through Flocknote, an online platform that helps parishes send e-mails and text messages to its members.

Bishop Barron, the founder of Word on Fire, is an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Matthew Dunn helped Ascension develop its streaming service and now serves as its customer support manager.

He said that streaming services like Ascension are especially helpful for parishes by letting members watch videos for faith formation programs or Bible study groups on their own time.

“People are time-crunched,” Dunn said. “They may not join [a faith formation group] at all in the first place if they knew that they had to lock in for eight weeks.

“But I think that people want to gather in groups. There is something that causes me to inconvenience myself and go out of my way to go to the parish on a Tuesday night for a Bible study. People want that fellowship.”

Drew Pulterak is the sales and distribution manager at Word on Fire. He noted that while there are variations in content and means of accessing it in the different Catholic streaming services, they all have the same final goal.

“Ultimately, that’s the goal, to bring people back to the faith and to have a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.

Whether people or parishes choose to subscribe to one streaming service or another, Dunn sees in their tremendous growth in the Church and the broader society as becoming a more ordinary part of daily life.

“As our platform has expanded, as Formed has expanded and as Word on Fire has gotten into the game, what we’ve seen is that it’s now mainstream,” Dunn said. “It’s the norm. It’s expected that this is offered at your parish.”

(For more information on Ascension’s streaming service, visit For more information on Word on Fire Digital, visit For more information on Word on Fire Engage, visit


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