Beginning first with a Christian publication to reach out to the masses, the ministry soon launched the first 24/7 Catholic television channel in the early 2000s. Under the leadership of Founder and Chairman, Chevalier Benny Punnathara, many other fruitful initiatives began to emerge, such as social service ministry and additional publications.
Trusting in the patronage of Saint Thomas the Apostle to India, Shalom ministry is motivated by the same missionary zeal to share the Gospel boldly to the ends of the earth! This ministry was introduced to North America through a series of powerful and Spirit-filled conferences that sparked revivals of faith around the country. In 2010, Shalom Media USA was established in South Texas. In 2012, publication of “Shalom Tidings” Catholic magazine began from the U.S. And in 2014, Shalom gained global recognition through SHALOM WORLD Catholic television channel. In the years since, sister offices around the world have been established in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Austria.
Today, Shalom Media USA has expanded its reach through social media, various volunteer initiatives, conferences, retreats, and much more. This is a ministry that works with the Church and for the Church. From its humble beginnings to today, Shalom has been empowered through the Holy Spirit to continue the work entrusted to them—to share the Peace of Christ with the world.
HISTORY OF SHALOM MINISTRIES
Casting his vision beyond his home state of Kerala, India, Benny Punnathara pondered the chaos in the world. With the earnest soul of a seeker, he grieved, prayed, and felt God’s nudge toward a new calling: suffering stems from a lack of Christ in the heart of Man; only a radical shift to God can bring a soul peace and eternal salvation. Starting a Catholic Bible Study with his wife, Stella, in their remote and predominately Hindu/Muslim village, they welcomed others in answering a new call from the Holy Spirit. Few imagined how a tiny seed of faith planted in their humble hearts through Christ’s Word would mature into a tree of many branches, sheltering and inspiring millions worldwide.
The first fruits of the new endeavor, called Shalom Ministries, fed other seekers through the pages of several Catholic publications: Shalom Times magazine (1991), Shalom Tidings magazine (1996); and Sunday Shalom weekly newspaper (1999). An ever expanding and devout corps of supporters combined their efforts and formed the Shalom Peace Fellowship (SPF) in 2003, bringing Christ’s hope and solace through their labors, financial support and prayers. After years of praying to “see God’s Face on television,” the ministry launched the 24/7 commercial-free, Malayalam-language Shalom Television (2005).
These initiatives in India were unheard of for a nation where less than 3% of the population was Christian. But the work of Shalom through its publications and television channels were instrumental in introducing many to Christ, prompting their reversion or conversions to the Faith.
In 2010, Shalom ministry was established in the United States of America with a vision of reaching out to the whole world. With an office based in South Texas, the ministry kicked off with a series of Shalom Festivals. These one-day conferences offered a new revival in the hearts of Americans who longed to do more in their communities and who had a thirst to offer more for their families and loved ones. At North America’s first-ever Shalom Festival (Dallas, 2010), attendees embraced the new vision of bringing a new Catholic television channel in English, to fruition.
A Shalom VICTORY leadership conference followed soon after in Philadelphia, igniting souls to serve as new media missionaries. Individuals with varying backgrounds and skills—including a healthcare worker, a farmer, and software engineer, to name a few—accepted the radical call to store up riches in Heaven. Using their own funds, the first new supporters of the newly established Shalom Media USA purchased and learned to use television cameras and equipment, filming outdoor Catholic events and plying their new craft for Shalom. Another family within the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, donated their home to serve as Shalom’s first office/production center.
On Divine Mercy Sunday 2014, with a clear mission in mind, SHALOM WORLD, a 24/7 commercial free, English-language television channel for the whole family was launched. At a time of rampant screen-addiction, rebellion from authority, and increasingly-broken families and cultures, the Holy Spirit offered a counter-cultural message through SHALOM WORLD.
A Production House was soon established in California. The flagship program Truth and Lies, exploring the lies of secular culture versus the Truth of Jesus Christ, was followed by other programs, such as Mary, My Mother, highlighting personal stories of Marian devotion; and Triumph, featuring modern-day heroes who persevered through crises and thrived by God’s grace, are a mere sampling of the large variety of programs produced by SHALOM WORLD. This television channel stands out in offering a unique combination of high-quality productions, graphics, and content, using the latest technologies and newest methods of visual presentation. SHALOM WORLD strives to present the beauty, truth, and goodness of the Church and Her teachings in a way that moves the heart of each viewer. In November 2016, a new Production House opened in Chicago, Illinois.
Today, Shalom’s ministries in Kerala holds a top slot in popularity in both print and screen media. SHALOM WORLD reaches over 150 countries and has produced nearly 50 original programs since its inception through the work of production houses in Canada, the United States of America, Ireland, Rome, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Shalom publications are printed in several languages with several editions. Shalom ministry employs 350+ full-time staff along with a vast number of volunteers who are committed to offering their best in service of the Lord. From its beginning and continuing today, the work of the ministry and its ministers are fueled by around-the-clock intercession before the Blessed Sacrament.
Sixty-five thousand worldwide Shalom Peace Fellowship members now support Shalom projects, initiatives, spiritual retreats, and leadership-building conferences. SPF members have been vital in their financial support, intercessory prayers, and volunteer assistance for the ministry. Over the years, SPF members have been at the forefront in reaching out to local parishes, promoting Shalom publications, representing the ministry at worldwide Catholic events, as well as taking leadership roles within the ministry.
A 21st-Century gift to God’s people, Shalom is bringing souls closer to God. Burdened nearly to death, one mom bowed over greasy dishes, contemplating suicide. Her sudsy cloth stilled as a message of hope filtered into her kitchen from a nearby television. One stunning moment of a direct act of the Holy Spirit through a Shalom-produced television program reversed this soul’s plunge into despair. Stories such as this of the transforming power of God’s grace are ever present through Shalom’s television channels, conferences, and publications.
For his life-transforming service to the Church and to lay people, Shalom Media’s Founder and first Chairman, Benny Punnathara, was awarded the title “Chevalier” by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. This title is the highest honor conferred on a layperson by the Church. Shalom Media follows its Founder’s lead, remaining ever-faithful, preaching the Word of God in conformity with the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. Driving all of Shalom’s initiatives, a devout core team seeks advice and blessings from Church hierarchy, especially from its Patrons. Unabashedly Catholic, engaging and virtue-forming, Shalom Media is planting Christ’s peace and eternal salvation in souls tethered to the dry and thirsting soil of the world.