Looking back on 20 years with Salt + Light Media and Thomas Aquinas College
Mary Rose Bacani Valenti
Monday, December 11, 2023
Mary Rose and her graduating class pose for a group photo during their 20-year alumni reunion in 2023.
Twenty years ago, I was at a crucial point in my life. In 2003, I graduated from college and I began my Salt + Light Media career.There are only two instances in my life where God’s call was undoubtedly clear — to go to Thomas Aquinas College and then to Salt + Light Media. When I opened up the admissions brochure for Thomas Aquinas College, it was as if lightning struck me — I fell in love. When I heard about Salt + Light Media’s existence, I had a “eureka” moment — I knew God wanted me there!I didn’t fully appreciate it then, but Thomas Aquinas College in California provided me with an incredible spiritual and intellectual foundation in my Catholic faith. It provided me with a “bright lamp.” I didn’t fully realize it then, either, but Salt + Light Media provided me with an apostolate and a ministry in the Church. It became my platform, the stand on which my lamp would provide light to the world.In June of 2023, my two worlds intertwined. I went back to California for my 20-year reunion, not just as a graduate but as a Salt + Light Media freelance producer. The results were two stories for behold: one on the magnificent chapel on campus and the other on my alumni reunion and overall education.
Let’s go back to 20 years ago, to 2003
Shortly before graduation in the spring of 2003, the stress of figuring out what I was going to do after became intense. I was studying for the law school entrance exam, thinking that my future was in law. After a few comments from friends about my “radio voice” or “promising television presence,” I thought I’d look into media. As I discerned further, I felt so strongly that I had to work for Catholic television in Canada. At that point, Canada didn’t have a Catholic multimedia platform. My parents brought up other options like print media, but I felt so strongly that it had to be television. I had no ambitions to be a producer or host necessarily, but I knew that God was calling me to contribute my talents to Catholic television. It was just that clear. Right before graduating in May, my sister told me that Salt + Light TV just opened up in Toronto, where my family lives. I remember saying, “That’s it! That’s it!”Without any background in journalism or media, I showed up at the Salt + Light Media office and got an interview, a two-week summer internship, and a job offer that began in September of 2003. Several workshops from professionals in the field and on-the-job training enriched me. I co-hosted and co-produced the first Salt + Light TV in-house program, Salt + Light Magazine. I also met my husband Richard Valenti at Salt + Light Media that same year. In my seven years as a full-time employee, I shared people’s faith stories through documentaries, discussed faith issues on-camera, and became part of a wonderful Salt + Light Media family. 2003 was definitely a pioneering year for me, a year of discovering my role as salt and light for the world. I credit my Thomas Aquinas College education for my intellectual formation and the conviction that I had something to offer Salt + Light Media. My education prepared me to do anything, to be able to tackle whatever came across my path. My education became an invaluable part of my life; I was excited to go to my college reunion in June of 2023 to rejoice in the gift of that education and to capture that joy through Salt + Light Media.I continue to do freelance work for Salt + Light Media now that I have four children because I value what it has to offer the world — hope. We need to remind each other of the richness of our Catholic stories; we — all of us — can contribute to the beautiful tapestry of human history.Mary Rose Bacani Valenti is a homeschooling mother of four girls. She worked full-time as a producer and host for Salt + Light Media from its foundation year in 2003 up to 2011, after giving birth to her first child. She agonized over and spent a long time on documentaries like Journey of Light (2005), Beloved: The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (2009), and God’s Doorkeeper: St. André of Montreal (2010). Under the direction of Our Lady of Combermere, she was very happy (although at first reluctant) to have had a carefree production experience on the half-hour documentary Madonna House: A Song of Love (2022). Currently, Mary Rose freelances as a host for Salt + Light Media’s Historia Vitae.