Members of the Telecare team get ready for the 2012 telethon on the set of the show. From left: president and CEO Msgr. Jim Vlaun, general manager Joseph Perrone, senior executive producers Denise Giammarino and Bob Considine, and production manager Rose Aloi Russo.

Telethon 2012 - "Become a Part of the Team"

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The Long Island Catholic
January 11, 2012 | Vol. 50, No. 35 | MARY GORRY

UNIONDALE - Telecare, the diocesan television service, is inviting everyone to become a part of the Telecare team through this year's telethon.

The annual telethon will be the weekend of Jan. 14-15. The live portion of the show will run from 2-10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday, with rebroadcasts overnight. The telethon has always "been a celebration of our viewers," noted Telecare general manager Joseph Perrone. "The telethon is an event for them, it's a chance for them to pledge their support. So our theme this year is 'Become Part of the Team,' support the team, become part of the family. I'm excited for it because it's saying, 'You're our viewer and we wouldn't be able to do this if it wasn't for you.'"

The event will once again be hosted by Telecare president and CEO Msgr. James Vlaun, Msgr. Joseph DeGrocco, and Father Frank Nelson. Because Telecare is broadcast to 6.4 million homes across the tri-state area, priests from the Diocese of Rockville Centre as well as surrounding dioceses will be participating, as well as Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, and other Church leaders. Msgr. Vlaun noted that in addition to the clergy represented, special guests both in-studio and by phone will include hosts from Telecare shows, past Telecare Awards of Excellence recipients such as Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, and the New York Islanders.

Musical guests will include Lenny Cocco and the Chimes; Freddy Cole, jazz musician and brother of Nat King Cole; and Tommy Byrnes, guitarist in the Billy Joel band. "In addition to that, we're also equally proud of the fact that we have many schools, our high schools and elementary schools, who will be offering groups of kids to come and sing and perform, so it'll have a feeling of our hometowns and our neighborhoods of our Catholic Church, which I love," said Msgr. Vlaun.

"Every single penny raised (through the telethon) goes directly to the television ministry," he continued. "Among the things we're working on right now is closed captioning, which is important to so many people. Though we're not required by the FCC to provide closed captioning, we want to, but it's very expensive. The other thing of course is the (high definition) component of what we do, which is necessary because that's how television broadcasts now. It's not a luxury upgrade; it's a mandatory upgrade."

"The third component is to be able to produce more programming for our viewers," added Perrone, "to continue to create new and interesting series rooted in the Catholic faith."

"We're one of the last (telethons) still around," noted Msgr. Vlaun. "We're proud of that and we feel it's been a very successful way for us to reach our people. Our people look forward to it, they seem to enjoy it. There's nothing quite like the excitement that comes from live television, and it's a great weekend to celebrate the Catholic Church. We're very proud that we're the Catholic television station and we're proud of our viewers."

"We really believe strongly in that we're only as good as everybody working together," he said. At Telecare, "everybody's part of this team. There's no one individual. The same is the true of our viewers. It's everyone working together that makes all the difference."

New media will continue to play a vital role in the telethon. "Sometimes it's not possible to just sit in front of the TV," noted Perrone, "so all the technology and new media that we've worked on works as a supplement to what we do as a television ministry. Our app and the website and every thing else in between becomes an important component of what we do, so for this year's telethon we want to beef that up even more. We have a special section on our website where viewers can watch the telethon live. They can donate securely on our website through PayPal or by credit card and leave their comments. Our Facebook page is very active, and during the telethon itself we're going to do some behind the scenes little videos, stuff the viewers won't be able to see actually on air."

Viewers can donate through the Telecare website,, beginning now and all through the telethon. "We received six donations last year of one dollar," said Msgr. Vlaun. "We received two donations of over six figures. The gift doesn't matter; it's the participation that matters. I send every single person a letter that I personally sign and write something on. Whatever is appropriate is what we gratefully accept. And if it's impossible to give us anything at all, your prayers would be welcome, prayers for the success of what we're doing and for the success of the telethon."

Telecare can be found throughout the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area on Cablevision Channels 29/137 or on Verizon FiOS Channel 296.