Unity In Diversity Special Edition: The Interfaith Memorial Service

Unity in Diversity is a weekly television program featuring interviews with leaders and representatives of faith communities in the local area. Programs are typically aired on Mondays at noon and Wednesdays at 5:30 pm on Charter Communications channel 21.

The producer and moderator for the series, the Reverend Leo McIlrath, chaplain to the Lutheran Home of Southbury, traditionally offers broadcasts of his interviews with pastors, rabbis, imams, and other spiritual leaders of a variety of local faith communities. Rev McIlrath, Dmin, lives in Sandy Hook. He is also coordinator of Corpus Christi Connecticut Community.

Unity In Diversity occasionally offers a broadcast of a special event such as a Christmas or Thanksgiving service. Beginning Monday, February 25, Unity in Diversity will offer four screenings of “The Interfaith Vigil with President Obama.”

The program is a condensed look at the vigil held at Newtown High School on Sunday, December 16, 2012, days after the shootings at Sandy Hook School that took the lives of six adults and 20 children. It featured leaders of Newtown and greater Danbury houses of worship, as well as Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, and President Barack Obama.

“We were able to fit the full memorial event down into a 28-minute presentation,” Rev McIlrath said on Tuesday, February 19. He and Megan Irwin, the public access coordinator at Charter Communications, had finished their editing just the night before.

“She knew the technical stuff, which I did not,” said Rev McIlrath. “I’d be lost, and still there,” he added with a laugh, “without her.”

Rev McIlrath has been to the cable company’s headquarters on Commerce Road four times during the past few weeks, he said, trying to edit the original video from the vigil into a length closer to what he usually broadcasts for Unity In Diversity. “We crunched it down to 28 minutes, and we were still able to get a good sampling of each speaker.

“We have the whole thing, but left out a lot of the walking back and force and the moments for reflections,” he added. “Each participant, everybody, is still there, doing their part. It took a lot of run-throughs to trim. We didn’t want to lose any of the essence.”

The program will be aired on Mondays and Wednesdays, February 25 and 27, and March 4 and 6. Rev McIlrath decided to air the program on a number of occasions “so that all may have the opportunity to witness living faith, hope and love in action,” he said via press release in announcing the special presentations.

Unity In Diversity will return to its regular format on March 11 and 13, with a broadcast of an interview between Rev McIlrath and the Reverend Anne Beams, former pastor of Valley Presbyterian Church in Brookfield.

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