ShareThis Page
News

Hometown Treasure: New Kensington's Dennis Woytek

| Monday, Sept. 3, 2007

When Dennis Woytek was approached in March 2006 about doing a documentary on a small village in Europe, he couldn't have anticipated the effect it would have on him.

Woytek, an assistant journalism professor at Duquesne University, and one of his students joined a group of 29 Pittsburgh residents in taking a pilgrimage to the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"Channel 4 wanted me to go and do a story on it, and they came to us at Duquesne," Woytek said.

He had two weeks notice, and got a passport in five days. It was his first trip to Europe.

In 1981, six children in Medjugorje claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary. Now, 25 years later, the children are adults and still claim to see the visions on a regular basis.

Throughout the nine-day pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Woytek conducted interviews with locals and one of those children, now an adult, as well as shot footage inside St. James, the church where some of the visions are said to have occurred.

He compiled the experience into 13 hours of raw video that was cut down into a 26-minute documentary titled, "A Journey of Faith."

Woytek's documentary won him his second Telly Award for cinematography. The international awards, founded in 1979, honor outstanding cable TV commercials and programs, video and film productions. This year, there were more than 14,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents.

Woytek won his first Telly Award in 1991 for a travel program titled "Pennsylvania Adventures," which ran on all major cable stations statewide.

"A Journey of Faith" ran regularly on Faith Television in Europe, and also Channel 19 in Uniontown. In addition, Woytek has presented it to many parish groups in the Greensburg and Pittsburgh dioceses.

"It's getting out to small groups and then spreading out, and it's affected a lot of people so far," Woytek said. "It's given them a sense of hope, and many times given people a sense of peace."

Woytek, who is originally from Erie, got his start in media at age 16, when he became a disc jockey at a local radio station. He was also the photographer for his high school yearbook.

During the Vietnam War, Woytek joined the Navy and served as a combat photographer and radio announcer.

"I went as a photojournalist in a lot of combat missions," he said. "That's where I started to get more and more into film-making and TV."

Woytek said his many years of experience helps him now when he teaches his classes at Duquesne, where he has worked for 14 years.

He said he'll never forget his experiences during the pilgrimage to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"I feel lucky to have had that opportunity to go over there and experience something that very few people get a chance to do," he said. "It does my heart and soul a lot of good to go back and remember that.

"To me, experiencing people and their lives is just incredibly rewarding."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me