By IMELDA RICHARD, Special to the Bulletin | Published December 26, 2019 | En Español
WINSTON—Back in his native Dominican Republic, Genry Batista never thought he would move to the United States, let alone start a radio station to bring the Gospel message to millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics around the world. During an especially difficult time in his life, Batista felt the call to evangelize over and over again; he just didn’t know how to answer this call.
In November 1993, Batista arrived in Newark, New Jersey. He joined a parish, became involved and met his wife, Leonor. Together, with their friends Orlando and Seidy Barrientos, the Batistas started the adventure that is now Radio Inmaculada.
“The sacrament of baptism calls us to bear witness of our faith. There are so many people that have not experienced yet an encounter with Christ. The Second Vatican Council invites us to evangelize others through our lives, through our actions. St. John Paul II invites not to be afraid and share the news of a living Christ with others. These are the reasons behind this initiative that started 14 years ago,” Batista said. “Radio Inmaculada is here to serve our church.”
Ten years ago, Leonor and Genry Batista and their radio partners moved to Atlanta and relocated the station to Georgia with the blessing of then-Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. Leonor becomes teary when she remembers the challenges they experienced those first years in Georgia.
“Back in New Jersey we had a successful business that we left behind when we decided to move here. That also meant we had to leave behind our financial security, and to make that decision was very scary,” she said. But then my spiritual advisor reminded me that Christ gave his life for me, so my fear of losing all material possessions wasn’t really a big deal compared to his sacrifice.
Leonor said that six months after the move to Georgia with their families, they lost everything.
“But every time we were about to give up, God sent one of his angels to help us. He never left us alone,” she said. “There were times where we didn’t have anything to eat and someone will knock at our door and bring food. And whatever was happening in our personal lives, the radio station kept going on. Radio Inmaculada is a true miracle of God.”
Orlando and Seidy Barrientos are the co-founders of Radio Inmaculada.
They worked together with the Batistas in another evangelization project “Jesús Quiere Sanarte” (Jesus wants to heal you).
“Radio Inmaculada is a family. Our children grew up with us working in this project and have fallen in love with it, they identify themselves with it,” said Seidy.
As a couple, they produce and present a show on the radio—“Vivir el amor de Dios en familia” (Living the love of God as a family). In this show, they share the challenges faced as a couple with the audience and accompany them in their journey.
“We could have not been able to make this happen without each other. We want people to know God’s love and his mercy,” said Orlando.
Celebrating an anniversary
Radio Inmaculada celebrated 14 years on the air Dec. 8 with a dinner and concert in Douglasville. That day they officially launched Inmaculada TV, a digital platform that broadcasts Catholic content to Spanish-speaking Catholics around the world. Currently Radio Inmaculada supplies content to more than a dozen Spanish radio stations in Latin America and has 15 digital studios in the United States, Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador. They have also been accredited by the Vatican to cover all of Pope Francis’ trips and other events of interest for the Catholic community.
The mission of Radio Inmaculada and Inmaculada TV is to help members of the Hispanic community keep their faith alive. The team is aware that many Hispanics come to the United States to work and provide for the families left behind in their home countries. It is in this quest that they sometimes have to choose whether to work or to practice their faith. Both the radio and the TV stations transmit daily Mass, the rosary and other Catholic devotions to help the community remain engaged with the church.
Odalis Susana Gil has been part of the Radio Inmaculada family for the past 10 years, first conducting a radio show. She is now the TV station director. Gil lived with her family in Miami and decided to relocate to Atlanta in 2012, after refusing to do so for more than three years. Gil’s oldest sib helped her make the decision to move, because he noticed her happiness in working for the radio station.
“My biggest joy is to be able to be there for my brothers and sisters. I am the happiest every time I am able to touch somebody’s soul,” she said.
Cristobal Muñoz, a parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Cumming has been listening to Radio Inmaculada for some two years.
“Ever since my wife started volunteering with them. I encourage others to open their hearts and their minds when listening to this station so they can hear God’s message” he said.
Radio Inmaculada’s signal is available on its website and also through an app on Apple and Android devices. This app has been downloaded more than eight million times already. Inmaculada TV is available for download on all mobile devices and smart televisions, as well as through Roku, Apple TV, Amazon fire and Google Chrome.
Visit Radio Inmaculada online at radioinmaculada.org.