When Charles Falzon reached his mid-forties he experienced a major life-altering event.
The successful media executive smiles and says he didn’t fall off a horse or see any great incarnation, but having his large public company taken over, helped him look back at his own life and the path he had chosen to take.
“I started questioning what would have happened in the world if I had not spent the last 23 years doing what I was doing,” says Charles. “I had produced a number of interesting shows, but I began thinking about what my contribution to the world and creation was.”
Up until this point, the thirty-year veteran of the media industry had managed operations around the globe. His professional experiences included a wide range of management activities, including the production of award-winning television series and movies, distribution, marketing, publishing, as well as live events, and brand development.
So after a year of reflection, Charles decided to court the Catholic Church again. While he had attended mass, he says he was not very involved and he never considered himself a very traditional or conservative Catholic. He also says he did not like an exclusivist and dogmatic view of the world. During that same year, Charles’ wife Leah received a call from a friend who was attending an open house at Regis College. Charles attended the event and really enjoyed it.
Then in 2003, Charles entered Regis to pursue post-graduate studies. His purpose was uncertain, but he hoped to explore his own spirituality, while enhancing his grounding in the fields of theology, ethics and philosophy.
At Regis, Charles found a balance between loyalty to tradition and not being afraid to challenge boundaries. He was able to question the definitions and images of God and the understanding of other religions and dialogue with them. Charles enjoyed the faithfulness to tradition at the regular Wednesday liturgies at Regis, with some modification to the traditional prayers. For example, what appealed to him was the tweaking of terminology to be more “politically correct, in a non-aggressive and non left-wing radical way.”
“I am a fan of Regis’ and the Jesuits’ approach to Christianity,” adds Charles. He says the College made the church more relevant to him. “Regis taught me that the church was me, not a hierarchy in Rome.” Charles adds that the courses he has taken at Regis, including ethics, social justice, and the church’s evolution, have prompted him to love the church even more and be more committed to helping people understand it.
Professing to be a Type A personality, Charles has gone beyond taking a few general interest courses at Regis. In 2006, Charles search for knowledge had him graduate with a Master of Arts in Ministry and Spirituality. That same year, he was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, a Jesuit honour Society and served as president of the Regis chapter during the 2007/8 year. He has sat on various Regis committees, including a fundraising one for Regis’ move to a location closer to the University of Toronto. He is also currently on the board of the Jesuit Communications Project, the media literacy organization directed by John Pungente, S.J.
In 2007, Charles also received a Diploma in Spiritual Direction at Regis and has been serving as spiritual director with a particular focus on corporate executives and those who feel disenfranchised from the church.
Besides members of the corporate world, Charles is also making these issues more accessible to young students as adjunct professor of marketing and media ethics at Ryerson University. Here he is reintroducing his students to their roots and challenging them to re-appropriate their traditions.
But Charles still has his foot in the media business. He currently serves as Co-Chairman of CCI Entertainment Ltd. a leading independent production, distribution and licensing company. He is also planning on blending media with faith issues. He’s looking at exploring paths of great seekers in a variety of faiths and what the commonality of these individuals and faiths is. Charles is also working on a script on St. Ignatius and how relevant he is to people of different faiths.
While he is comfortable bringing his corporate and entertainment background into discussions at Regis, he says it isn’t as easy the other way around, just yet.
“Sitting around the boardroom and talking about my theology degrees doesn’t go down,” says Charles. “They just don’t get it.”
Charles Falzon is currently completing a Master of Theology with a focus on ethics in media.