Letter from Fr Toby Lees OP 21 September 2022

Written by on 20/09/2022

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

Switch out ‘imperial family’ for ‘World Family’ and you would have a pretty good oath for a new Priest Director at Radio Maria.

My mind has been on both the fidelity with which the Queen lived out this promise and on the responsibilities of being a Priest Director as I write this from Erba in Italy, where I am undertaking my new Director training at the HQ of the World Family, and am following the news from back home as huge crowds gather to pay their respects to the late Queen.

There are ten new Priest Directors here: three from Nigeria, one from each of Latvia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sierra Leone, and England.

Nothing but the love of Christ could have brought such a diverse group of people together in a small town in Italy and made it such a joy. The joy of the gospel is such a gift, and it’s been manifested so beautifully in joyful song which comes so naturally to some of my African brothers, but having received the Good News and been entrusted with spreading it is also such a great responsibility: To those to whom much has been been given, much will be expected (Lk. 12:48).

A responsibility, yes, but a burden, no, because it is Christ who works in us and lightens our load. I also know that it is not evenly humanly my work alone. I share in the mission with a great team back in England, and am now much more keenly aware of belonging to a beautiful World Family of Radio Marias; operating in vastly different circumstances, but united by a shared vision that the intimacy of the spoken word of radio in your homes, cars, places of work, commutes, wherever you listen, provides a beautiful and effective platform to make known The Word brought into the world through that ‘yes’ spoken by Mary.

But this work belongs not just to staff: there is no radio, or at least the radio loses its point without listeners, and the unique style of Radio Maria depends upon a whole host of volunteers and donors. Can you help in one of these ways? Perhaps not, but you can at least tell other people about what we’re doing, and maybe introduce other volunteers and donors to our beautiful work.

We have no adverts because we will not sell your attention, that’s what advertising is, the selling of your attention to companies that want to sell you things. Our relationship with you is different, it’s more honest, but it also asks more of you. I hope you think it gives more too! We can preach the fullness of the faith, without concern for what our commercial backers might think, because you deserve the fullness of life, which the fullness of the faith gives.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the training was hearing how many of the stations in Africa, initially reliant on subsidies, are now self-supporting, and, in fact are helping other stations to start up. One African director said, ‘Radio Maria Italy loves Africa’ . . . well, it’s also the case that the World Family in Italy loves England and has made possible not only a studio in Cambridge but our new studio in London. It’s my hope though that it won’t be long until we are helping new stations in countries that do not yet have a Radio Maria . . . an ever-shrinking list!

Please pray for our work, please consider volunteering or donating, or both, and please let more people know about ‘the Christian voice in your home’.

Fr Toby Lees OP
Priest Director, Radio Maria England

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