Catholic Audio for Kids
Catholic Music Spotlight Interview with Gerald Montpetit, Cat.Chat
by Lisa M. Hendey
What do you get when you mix the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible, the Communion of saints, papal encyclicals, and a talking cat?
No, this isn’t some bad joke in the making – it’s the recipe for Cat.Chat, a Catholic audio show for families aimed at children ages three to eleven years of age. From my own review of the Cat.Chat CDs, however, I’d have to say that the appeal of Moses, the talking cat and his friends extends well beyond this target demographic. The five CDs that comprise the current Cat.Chat catalogue are chock full of fun, learning opportunities and great Catholic music.
Catholic families, committed to teaching our children a true love for our faith, are always on the lookout for creative and enriching catechetical tools. Cat.Chat fits this bill – it is dogmatically sound, creative, entertaining and fun. I find myself listening to the CDs even after I’ve dropped my boys off at school and am a big fan of both Moses and the talented Catholic artists who accompany him on the series’ five CDs.
I had the chance to catch up with Cat.Chat co-creator Gerald Montpetit, who shared the following about this wonderful audio series for Catholic families.
Q: Please describe the Cat Chat program, your goals and how the CDs are structured.
A: Cat.Chat, short for Catholic Chat, is a NEW Catholic Audio Show for Kids ages 3-11 that teaches the faith while it entertains! There are presently 5 CDs in the series and each one is aimed at helping kids & their families learn important aspects of the Catholic faith in a simple and dynamic way through great stories, catchy songs, real-life conversations and prayer.
Each CD is structured in a similar way that is fun and easy to understand for kids. They join Moses the Amazing Talking Cat, Papa, Josh, Hannah and their friends for an unforgettable Cat.Chat experience in:
Volume 1: Mary Leads Me Closer to Jesus
Kids will grow closer to Jesus and Our Blessed Mother through inspiring songs & stories such as I Wanna Say Yes, Full Of Grace, Pray for Me and more.
Volume 2: Jesus in my Heart
Learn about love, forgiveness and living your life for Jesus in the stories and song titles such as To Be Like Jesus, He's in My Heart, The Lord's Prayer and more.
Volume 3: Amazing Angels and Super Saints
Kids will soak in the songs and stories about the angels and saints in titles such as In the Presence of the Angels, Go Francis, I am Called and more.
Volume 4: The Mass Comes Alive
This CD will lead kids to a greater appreciation and love for the Mass. Listen in and have the Mass come Alive!!!
Volume 5: A Christmas to Remember
Have the message & songs of Advent & Christmas ring in your hearts all year long with this newest release of Cat.Chat.
Volume 6: (coming soon!!!) An Extra Special Easter
This CD will be a treasured resource to feature the teachings of Lent & Easter into the hearts & homes of children & families.
Our goal is to see kids and families experience Jesus through the beauty and treasures of our Catholic faith. We strive on providing top-quality Catholic media resources to help kids and families in their faith journey. We want them to experience their faith in a way that will inspire them to desire holiness and a passion for living out their faith to the fullest.
As my friend Christopher West once shared with me: "Gerald, my kids just love Cat.Chat. The tunes are catchy and the lessons are so inspiring."
Q: Can you please share the touching story behind the inspiration for Cat.Chat and how your dream became a reality?
A: From the first few years of our marriage, it had been a prayer on our hearts to be able to do ministry together as a couple & as a family. With my experience in sound recording & songwriting and my wife's experience as a religious education teacher, we were more than eager to share the gifts & talents the Lord had given us. After much prayer and discernment, the Holy Spirit started revealing to us His plan for our ministry. It was not until about 8 years into our marriage that my wife Denise and I felt called to create a quality Catholic CD series that has great catechetics and captivating songs all in one. We decided to call it Cat Chat: The Catholic Audio Show for Kids.
During this whole discernment process, a difficult, yet touching experience helped unfold the finer details of what Cat.Chat was to become, including who the main characters of this audio show would be.
In 1999, when our niece Tristan Humphries (the voice of Hannah on each CD) was only 4 years old, her mother Louise (my sister) passed away from cancer at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Tristan's real life experience was echoed in the Cat.Chat Vol#1 script; she actually “visited her mom in that really big hospital…kissed her… and hugged her really hard” the day her mom died.
Tristan, her brother Keenan and their father Mark have experienced first hand the hardships, the pain and the sorrow of losing a wife and mother. They truly lived some of what the main characters - Papa, Josh and Hannah - experienced in this audio show. Their life story, echoed through the various Cat.Chat CDs, inspires and encourages us to keep the end in mind; which is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Q: How do you select the topics for Cat.Chat and how are your elements researched to ensure faithfulness to the teachings of the Church?
A: We have chosen the most popular topics, and what I believe to be some of the most important faith aspects in the Church. Mass and the Eucharist (Vol. 4), relationship with Jesus and reconciliation (Vol. 2), our Blessed Mother (Vol. 1) and our heroes in the faith (Vol. 3). Because Christmas is such an important celebration for all, our desire is to have Volume 5 crossover into the secular market to reach out and share the true meaning of Christmas, hopefully drawing them into the rest of the series.
All of our research stems from Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the lives of the saints, different papal encyclicals and the lived experience of our own family and friends.
"I am pleased to ….recommend the Cat.Chat products. This material aims at communicating the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church in a simple and dynamic way through music & story-telling and spreads the good news of Jesus to children & their families.” Archbishop Thomas Collins, Archdiocese of Edmonton, AB
Q: How long does it take to record and produce each volume?
Well, the first volume took about 6 months to complete. As we progress with each volume, we are now able to complete CD production within 3-4 months. That includes research, script writing, song writing, recording, final mix down, and mastering.
Q: Can you please introduce us to some of the cast of Cat Chat, especially the "real" Moses? How did you get him to talk like that???
A: Papa, Josh, Hannah are the three main loveable characters of each audio show. Each volume introduces new friends and family members to create diversity between the CDs. Now we can't forget about Moses the Amazing Talking Cat, who is the host of each show. Kids just love Moses because of his humor, wit and sneaky ways. What makes it really interesting is that all the characters in the audio show think Moses is just a cute little orange-tabby pet cat that purrs and meows and does what any other ordinary cat does, but to us "the listeners", he's an AMAZING talking cat who sneaks around telling us what he really thinks about all this cool Catholic Chat.
There is also a new animal character that interacts with Moses on each show. You'll meet Rocko, the Coolest Dog in Town (in Vol. 3), Missy, the Cutest Kitty Around (in Vol. 4) , and Sneak the Mouse (in Vol. 5). With today's modern technology, anything is possible. Imagine, Mango the Talking Bird (in Vol. 6).
Q: Please say a few words about some of the awesome musicians whose work accompanies your CDs.
A: Each CD has approx.40-50 people involved in its' productions. The main singers for the CD series are Janelle, a rapidly growing Nashville Catholic recording artist, Christine Paranych, a local Catholic singer, songwriter and illustrator for Cat.Chat, as well as myself and several talented kids who sing some of the songs. There are also two different kids' choirs who record on the albums- one choir consists of about 20 kids ages 6 to 9, the other consists of about 20 kids ages 10 to 15. We blend these together to make one beautiful and angelic sounding choir. We have been blessed to have access to a professional recording studio where all of the music is recorded. With input from different professionals in the music industry, we strive to have the best possible sound quality on each CD.
Q: What type of feedback have you received from listeners, teachers, clergy and families?
A: It has truly been a blessing to hear such positive and life-changing responses from people who listen to Cat.Chat. There are so many stories from kids, parents, educators and clergy who say that Cat.Chat has truly inspired them to live out their faith to the fullest. They are excited to have such a quality catholic resource they can use to help teach the faith.
One touching story of a young, rambunctious 7 year old boy, who knew nothing about the faith was given a Cat.Chat from a friend. He never stopped listening to it and eventually got the whole series. His parents, who were not Catholic, ended up coming into the Church and the boy now feels that God is calling him to become a priest. Obviously God was working in their lives and Cat.Chat was one of the tools He used to bring this family into the Church. Praise the Lord!
One dad admits that he is somewhat embarrassed to say that he listens to Cat.Chat alone in his vehicle on his way to work. He is enjoying it just as much as his kids.
One mom says that the Cat. Chat CDs have been a huge instrument in helping teach her family how to pray.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I am currently asking the Lord to send me an email regarding this issue. I haven't received it yet.
Actually, my wife Denise and our four young kids are truly thankful for what the Lord has done with this ministry. We give Him all the glory and entrust the future of Cat.Chat to Him.
This fall we have been busy doing Cat.Chat Live concerts across western Canada. We are expanding across Canada and already have some inquiries for concerts in the United States. We also have a Cat.Chat VBS program scheduled for release in March of 2006. Plans to release quality Catholic DVD's that will visually entertain, captivate and educate kids about the faith is also on the horizon.
Our desire is to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of Jesus Christ and we will do all that we can to fulfill this mission we sense the Lord is calling us to.
To order or find out more about Cat.Chat, visit our website: www.catchat.ca or call Cat.Chat Productions at: 1-866-286-5433 or visit http://www.catholicmom.catholiccompany.com.
Lisa M. Hendey is webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com , a wife and mother of two and a Catholic music fan and supporter. Visit her at www.LisaHendey.com for more information
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