St. John Paul II said of Mary: “This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith.” And yet, many of us may not have a personal relationship with her. Perhaps we may not even understand why the Church reveres her so deeply.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is sparing no effort in addressing that through its new, seven-part video series “Mary, Explained.”

In preparation for its upcoming golden jubilee in 2024, the diocese has launched a three-year effort to prepare for the celebration. 

Year One, which began in November 2021, focused on the theme of the Eucharist. Out of that theme the diocese produced a series called “The Mass, Explained,” which received much positive feedback. 

This year, the second year of preparation, the theme for the diocese is “rejoice,” and the focus is Mary’s perfect example of joy.

Kerry Nevins, multimedia producer for the Arlington Diocese, told CNA: “‘Rejoice’ is centered around Mary’s response to the Annunciation when she is told that she’s going to be the mother of God.” He explained that this was their call from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who leads the diocese.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the "Mary, Explained" series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the "Mary, Explained" series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington

As Burbidge, Nevins, and their Arlington Diocese team continued to explore the theme, they decided to create a video series about Mary.

The seven-part series will unpack the Marian dogmas month by month by way of addressing the following topics: Who is Mary? (May); Was she the mother of God? (June); Was she immaculately conceived? (July); Was she assumed into heaven? (August); Was she ever-virgin? (September); Why do Catholics pray and have devotions to Mary? (October); and How can we embrace Mary as our model disciple? (November).

More in US

Nevins explained that the mission of the series is to “dive into who she is, what Catholics believe about her, what Catholics don’t believe about her, and why we should even be looking to her in the first place.”

“We don’t just want to know our faith for the sake of knowing our faith so we can get a couple of answers right on Catholic ‘Jeopardy,’” Nevins told CNA. “We want people to know their faith so that they can know Christ and come to be in a relationship with him, and I think the best way that you can get to know somebody is by meeting their mom.” 

Dr. Matthew Tsakanikas, associate professor of theology at Christendom College who is featured in the series, expressed how this project gracefully addresses a wide audience, hearing perspectives from priests, religious, and laypeople alike. Tsakanikas told CNA: “I think it’s written so that anyone accessing it has a chance to get insights at every level.”

Tsakanikas noted how “Mary, Explained” takes what might seem like lofty ideas and brings them down to us. “These dogmas aren’t supposed to be … just looking at Mary on a pedestal but also looking at Mary in terms of how these graces were assigning her a task and mission,” he said.

Through a deeper understanding of the Marian dogmas, viewers can understand how she, too, was commissioned to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth and hopefully encourage them to do the same. 

At a glance, it’s evident that the production quality was carefully considered.  

“A lot of planning went into it,” Nevins said. “We really believe that … quality is credibility.”  

(Story continues below)

With endless options to click through, Nevins acknowledged that the content had to be aesthetically appealing if they wanted people to consume it. “We really want to make Catholic media beautiful because we’ve got the greatest story to tell, but if the story doesn’t look good, people aren’t going to watch it,” he said. 

Beyond the production quality, the mission of the series is to stoke a fire of love for the Church and deepen devotion to Our Lady.

Father Daniel Hanley, formator at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, told CNA: “Letting people know and enter into relationship with Mary as spiritual mother is hugely important. She’s a real person, she’s involved in our life, and we should recognize it and let her be.”

The bishop’s leadership and inspiration is credited with the initial vision for the series, but the diocese was well suited for the project, according to Hanley. “There’s a lot of Marian devotion in our diocese,” he added.

Those involved in the production of “Mary, Explained” are hopeful that the series will bear the fruit of Marian devotion in their diocese and beyond. 

“It’s part of God’s plan for salvation that people know her and let her be part of their life,” Hanley said. “I noticed that they’ll lean in when you preach about Mary. There’s a desire to know more about her.”

A link to the series can be found at