In June of 1999, KOAT -TV7 News Anchor Nelson Martinez took four months off to visit a few of the thousands of Catholic churches and missions in the U-S-A.
It is a personal journey which begins with "La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de La Canada" in Northern New Mexico. Both he and his wife Gina, who accompanied Nelson on his journey, attended this church as youngsters.
A few miles down the road is another magnificent church where Nelson was an altar boy. El Santuario de Chimayo was a "must" for this documentary. The famous church is built around "El Posito" where a crucifix is said to have been discovered by his great, great, great grandfather, Bernardo Abeyta.
Two other New Mexican and Franciscan churches are highlighted: The most artistically rendered church in America, San Francisco de Asisi in Ranchos de Taos as well as St. Joseph's Apache Mission in Mescalero, near Ruidoso, New Mexico.
The documentary tells of the featured churches' history including the story of California's "first citizen", Father Junipero Serra, who was sent by Spain to Christianize the Indians. San Juan Capistrano's majestic beauty and history draw visitors from around the world.
Services at Maria Lana Kila in Lahaina Maui on Good Friday and Easter add lively spirit to this presentation. Hawaiians don't forget their culture on such a spiritual holiday...The "Easter Hula" (defended at The Vatican by the Bishop of Hawaii) is danced in the center aisle.
In Newport, Rhode Island, St. Mary's Church tells the story of not only the beginnings of the city's heart and soul, but also where President and Mrs. Kennedy were married.
In San Antonio, Texas, San Fernando is proclaimed to be "the oldest Cathedral in America." It took center stage in the 1980's when Pope John Paul II visited the Cathedral. The Pontiff is seen with the multitudes as he celebrates the existence of the Spirit at San Fernando Cathedral.
The array of "The Stations of the Cross" is diverse: From simple retablos in Santa Cruz and Mescalero, to smoke-darkened oil paintings in San Juan Capistrano. Elaborate sculptures are seen in San Antonio's San Fernando Cathedral.
Interviews revealing insightful stories are sprinkled throughout each church segment. At St. Mary's in Newport, is the silver plaque commemorating pew #10 where Jacqueline and President Kennedy sat every Sunday during their summer visits. The theft of that plaque brought international news.
Of this long anticipated project, Martinez says his four months shooting this video was worth it. "I'm very proud of the documentary. And anyone with the same fascination for churches and missions will certainly find this video a wonderful source for some of America's treasures."
Aprox. 47 minutes