Tag Archives: EWTN

Dan Burke – Executive Director, EWTN’s National Catholic Register

Dan Burke has committed his life to the advancement of faithful Catholic spirituality and to solid journalism that serves the Church. He is this year’s featured speaker at Legatus’ October 11-14 Men’s Enclave at Cabin Bluff in Woodbine, GA, and will discuss “The Battle of Divine Ascent: Helping men and leaders to engage in spiritual growth and leadership.”

Dan Burke

Burke, a former Southern Baptist and Anglican before he entered the Catholic Church, is the executive director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register. He is also the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the host of EWTN’s “Divine Intimacy” Radio show. As a sought-after retreat speaker, he’s likewise an award- winning author and editor of more than 10 books on Catholic spirituality. He recently spoke with Legatus Magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

How did you get into Catholic journalism?

I was the executive director of strategy development for Focus on the Family before I took the role at the Register. I became Catholic in 2005 and I really wanted to figure out a way to lend my skills to the Church. Because of challenges with the Legionaries of Christ, who owned the Register at the time, they were potentially going to close the Register. They asked if I could come aboard full time and see if we could turn it around.

How did you and your team save the Register?

We poured all our energy into keeping the Register alive, and God blessed the work. We eliminated all the internal debt. In 2011, EWTN acquired the National Catholic Register, and it’s grown 90 percent since then in print subscriptions. I implemented a digital strategy right after I came on board, and that’s been off-the- chart successful in terms of reach and impact.

How do you prepare for your role as a retreat speaker?

Depending on the audience and their particular needs, I spend a good deal of time in prayer, and usually from there, I spend time reflecting on the wisdom of the Carmelite saints primarily related to the topic, and then put it all together. Scripture of course is very central. The Lord blessed me by bringing me into the Church through the Southern Baptists, so my grounding in Scripture is pretty strong.

How did your time as a Protestant prepare you to enter the Catholic Church?

The Baptists brought me to the messiah of the Jews — I’m Jewish by birth — and they also gave me a trust in and a love for the Scriptures. During my time as an Anglican, I came to love and appreciate the liturgy and ecclesiology of the Church. I shifted from a purely extemporaneous kind of prayer to learning to pray liturgically, which of course was a great preparation for becoming Catholic and praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the Church Universal.

What is the mission of the Avila Institute?

Simply, it’s to enable the New Evangelization by drawing Catholics worldwide into deeper union with Christ and His Church. The way we do that is by providing graduate and personal enrichment studies in the realm of spiritual theology, which is concerned with the nature of the supernatural life and how it is that we grow from the beginnings of a spiritual life to our fullness of union with God.

How do you find the time to balance all your responsibilities?

The beginning is prayer. I recently met with a holy bishop whom I knew spent an hour in adoration a day in addition to his obligations. I asked him, “How is it with all you’re responsible for that you have time to spend so much time in prayer?” He said, “How is it that with all I’m responsible for, that I wouldn’t spend that time in prayer?”

Do you find time to enjoy any hobbies?

I don’t know if I honesty have a hobby, but I have a vocation. I have a calling to serve the Body of Christ through journalism and through mystical theology, and that to me is a never ending well of refreshment, of revitalization, of encouragement. The work of God in the hearts of His people is the hope of the Church, and participating in fostering that hope, faith and love in God’s people is really all I need. I think that when I die, then I’ll rest.


Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN Chairman & CEO- Washington, D.C. Chapter

Under Michael Warsaw’s leadership, the Eternal Word Television Network that the late Mother Angelica founded in a monastery garage in 1981 has become the world’s largest religious media network. Today, EWTN’s global reach includes 11 television networks, as well as shortwave, satellite and AM/FM radio, online and digital media services, news and publishing. On April 12, Warsaw — a founding member of Legatus’ Washington, D.C. chapter and EWTN’s chairman and chief executive officer — was named by the Holy See, along with 12 other individuals, as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. Warsaw recently spoke with Legatus Magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

Michael Warsaw

How did you come to work at EWTN?

In the late 1980s, I was the communications director at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. As part of my role there, I came to Alabama and met with Mother Angelica to talk about the possibility of televising events from the Basilica on EWTN. Over the following years, I would travel to Irondale frequently to meet with people at the network. In 1990, I had the pleasure of hosting Mother Angelica for a visit to Washington, D.C. During that visit, she at one point asked if I would come work for her. Six months later, my wife Jacqueline and I relocated from D.C., and have been here ever since.

Is Mother Angelica’s legacy still felt at EWTN?

Mother remains a strong part of the network and what the network is. As our foundress, we certainly look to her for inspiration and for guidance as we go forward. While she had been removed from active work with the network for so many years because of her stroke, she was still here with us, praying for us and we really felt that presence. Now that she’s gone home to her eternal reward, I think we also feel that presence still, and we know she’s there as a powerful intercessor for the work of the network.

EWTN has built up its news operation in recent years. Why is that?

Our commitment to presenting news from a Catholic perspective is certainly something that’s very important to us. It’s a very Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN Chairman & CEO WASHINGTON, D.C. CHAPTER strategic goal, one that we’re going to continue to develop over the coming years. Today, EWTN has the largest media group accredited to the Holy See, larger than any secular network in the world. There is much more that can be done in that area. We see it as a way of reaching people who may not be traditional viewers of our television channels or consumers of our news content and other platforms.

What were your thoughts on Pope Francis naming you as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication?

I was certainly very honored by the appointment from the Holy Father. I certainly see that as a really strong recognition of the role that EWTN plays today in the life of the Church. I’m happy to assist the Holy Father and the Holy See in its reorganization plan and working on its communications strategy moving forward.

As a charter member of Legatus’ Washington, D.C. Chapter, what are your thoughts on Legatus’ role in the life of the Church?

Legatus is a wonderful organization that brings together such great people who are doing important work for the Church, bringing faith and the life of the Church into their business endeavors, and into the wider culture.

Do you have time for any hobbies?

When I’m not traveling for business, one of my great joys is being able to travel with my family and to spend time with my family. We recently did a trip following the old Route 66 out to the West, which was a great experience. We also like to seek out new, interesting and unusual places along these country roads. That’s kind of a happy diversion from the day-to-day challenges.


A new captain at the helm

Ave Maria School of Law emerges from turbulent waters

Kevin Cieply

Kevin Cieply

When Kevin Cieply became dean and president of Ave Maria School of Law a little more than a year ago, he knew he was assuming the helm of a ship that had passed through some rough waters.

But today, the retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) Officer is convinced the school has emerged from the turbulence that followed its move from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Naples, FLA. Cieply believes it’s on the way to becoming an influential, significant law school in southwest Florida as well as the nation.

Growing success

Despite a successful start following its founding by Tom Monaghan in 1999, Ave Maria Law lost students and faculty with its 2009 move to Naples, and it slipped to the bottom of state bar exam passage rankings.

As a newcomer to the law school, Cieply said he brings “a fresh look at the school and a look that is not necessarily tethered to that experience.”

Indeed, a string of successes followed the new dean’s arrival in Naples, although he credits many others for their work preceding his appointment.

In October, for example, the school won a favorable federal court ruling in its challenge to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate. Cieply said the case was underway before he arrived and that his predecessor did a great deal of work on it.

“I came in at the end — right before the decision,” he said, adding that the school is now awaiting a ruling in a case involving EWTN. “Whatever is decided in the 11th Circuit in that case will dictate how our case eventually goes.”

Another indication that things are going well for Ave Maria School of Law is its move in February from the bottom to the top (83%) of Florida’s rankings for first-time passage of the state bar exam. Also, in March, the Diocese of Venice officially recognized the school as a Catholic institute of higher learning. Then, in April, Ave Maria Law announced a $1 million gift and purchase of the North Naples campus it had been renting from Ave Maria University.

A member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter, Cieply said these successes represent work by many people. “There’s no way I would say they’re my accomplishment, but the school’s. You just don’t accomplish those things by yourself.”


Undergirding the school’s success is clarity about its mission, Cieply said.

“We know what our purpose is,” he explained. “We aren’t struggling to find our niche or our relevance. We know we’ve got a clearly defined mission, and I see us as the manifestation of Tom Monaghan’s dream to make Catholic education relevant and a change agent for society.”

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education, said Ave Maria stands apart from other Catholic law schools with its strong emphasis on Catholic identity.

Reilly said he’s been encouraged by Cieply’s confident approach in recruiting students based on that identity. “Even some faithful Catholic institutions tend to downplay their character and he has made it a strong marketing point for the law school.”

Thomas Flickinger, a member of Legatus’ Grand Rapids Chapter, was in the law school’s first graduating class. Flickinger said he thinks the school’s greatest strength is its loyalty to the Church and its ability to train future lawyers to think not only of what can be accomplished legally, but what is ethical and morally permitted.

“Many people today figure ‘if it’s legal, it must be moral,’ but we were also trained to consider the ethics of the situation,” he explained.

Every class he took, Flickinger said, tied into the Catholic faith — whether it was reading encyclicals in property class or studying Thomistic philosopher Germain Grisez in professional liability class.

Besides infusing Church teachings into the curriculum, the school expresses its Catholic identity by opening classes with prayer and providing two Masses a day, a crucifix in every classroom, and a chaplain on campus.

To bolster its Catholic identity, Ave Maria Law has made an effort to recruit students from colleges and universities listed in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Newman Guide, which recommends schools committed to a faithful Catholic education.

Newman Guide schools, Reilly said, not only provide an outstanding liberal arts education that lends itself to a law degree, but have a strong mission fit with Ave Maria.

Last year, he said, with funding from Monaghan, the law school instituted a program offering full scholarships for students graduating from Newman Guide colleges and universities.

Twenty new students are entering the law school this fall on those scholarships. They, along with other students recruited from Newman Guide schools, will boost the Catholic student body, which last year was at 63%.

The school accepts students from all faiths without shying away from the fact that it’s Catholic, Cieply said.

“We pride ourselves on having a special fidelity to the Catholic Church and its teachings as well as the natural law,” he explained.

“We welcome anybody and everybody that will respect our mission.”

Challenges and priorities

In 2014, Ave Maria School of Law was named the best Catholic law school in the U.S. for the devout by National Jurist’s PreLaw Magazine.

To sustain and build on its high bar passage rate, Cieply said the school has hired a director of bar passage and made curriculum changes related to bar exam performance —including the addition of a one-credit course, Legal Case Analysis and Skills Enrichment. The new course, which will be offered for the first time during orientation week this fall, covers critical thinking and reading, how to brief cases, and how to structure answers for law school exams.

Cieply said his greatest challenge at this juncture is to improve the school’s financial position. The purchase of the North Naples campus was a step in that direction — in part because it will provide naming opportunities for buildings, attracting more substantial benefactors.

Among his top priorities is getting Ave Maria Law off a U.S. Department of Education financial watch list, where it has been for the last 11 years. Its presence on the list is unrelated to management of money, he said, but indicates that the school is tuition-dependent and without significant assets, endowments or equity. The school is slowly building a sound financial base, he said, adding he is hopeful that with some additional gifts, it can move off the list.

As Ave Maria approaches its 15th anniversary, Flickinger said he sees the biggest challenge as continuing to build its reputation in the legal community.

“Too many people still don’t know about the school and the many successful attorneys it has trained,” he said. “But the focus cannot simply be on the worldly view of success. The school was inspired by the encyclical Fides et Ratio; both faith and reason must flourish at AMSL for it to be truly successful.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Learn more: avemarialaw.edu

21st Century Evangelism

Legate Michael Warsaw leads EWTN’s bold global expansion into the 21st century . . .

cover-march14When Michael Warsaw was studying theology and liturgy at the Catholic University of America some 30 years ago, he was thinking more aBout Becoming a priest than directing the world’s largest religious media network.

But a job at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington led him into the world of Catholic communications and eventually to the Eternal Word Television Network in Irondale, Ala. Even then, however, Warsaw never imagined that he would one day succeed Mother Angelica, the network’s feisty foundress, as chairman and CEO.

Taking risks for Christ

After joining EWTN in 1991, Warsaw worked in television production, satellite operations and technical services before being named president in 2000 and CEO in 2009.

A member of Legatus’ fledgling Birmingham Chapter, Warsaw was promoted to chairman of the board last October. Today he oversees an international media empire comprising television and radio, a newspaper, and a digital operation that employs a website, social media and mobile apps.

Michael Warsaw talks to Colleen Carroll Campbell

Michael Warsaw talks to Colleen Carroll Campbell

Although television remains the network flagship, EWTN also has the distinction of maintaining the most used and trafficked Catholic website in the U.S. with an average of 3 million unique visitors a month. The network also has the largest English-language Catholic presence on Facebook with more than 350,000 followers for EWTN alone.

As someone who worked closely with Mother Angelica before she suffered a disabling stroke in 2001, Warsaw said he considers himself blessed to be able to turn her vision and ideas into practical realities. Although she didn’t give him a to-do list, Warsaw said he strives to preserve the spirit of her leadership in guiding the network.

Johnnette Benkovic, host of EWTN’s Women of Grace radio and television programs, believes he is succeeding.

“Central to every decision made at EWTN is Mother’s mission and Mother’s heart,” she said. “If Mother were active in the operation of EWTN today, I’m quite certain she would be moving the network in the very direction that Michael is taking it.”

Warsaw said he often repeats Mother Angelica’s well-known maxim,

“We need to dare to do the ridiculous so God can accomplish the miraculous.”

Johnette Benkovic

Johnette Benkovic

“That sums up Mother and the EWTN apostolate,” he explained. “It’s something I try to remind myself of every day as I look at opportunities, inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and where God is leading the apostolate at this point in history. It’s about following the spirit of our foundress and being willing to take risks and do what we believe we’re being called to do for the service of the Church.”

Although EWTN’s earlier years were sometimes marked by clashes with Church leaders — most notably one between Mother Angelica and Cardinal Roger Mahony, the now-retired archbishop of Los Angeles, over his pastoral letter on the Eucharist, Warsaw said he thinks the network’s relationship with the bishops and the Holy See is strong and positive.

“I think we enjoy today wide support among the bishops and clergy, a further sign of how EWTN has matured in its mission and the service we provide to the Church.”

The challenge for EWTN, he said, is finding a way to support the Church while maintaining independence as a media apostolate. “It’s about finding the right balance and pursuing your mission in that light.”

Global expansion

Michael Warsaw poses with Mother Angelica

Michael Warsaw poses with Mother Angelica in 2004

Although Mother Angelica’s stroke left the engaging and expressive communicator unable to speak or write, Warsaw said the 90-yearold nun still radiates joy in the midst of her suffering.

After visiting her, he said, “You can’t help but walk away from those moments and feel renewed and refreshed and at peace. It’s amazing to see what God has done with her over the years. I think in many ways Mother Angelica’s most important work for EWTN has been done over these last 12 years since the stroke, offering her prayers and sufferings for the success of the network. There’s no question that, as we look at the last decade, we see enormous growth in every respect, every part of EWTN’s apostolate around the world. I attribute that to the fruits of her suffering and her prayers for us.”

During that time, Warsaw said, EWTN’s television presence has grown to 11 channels around the world: four in the U.S. (two in English and two in Spanish), a Spanish channel that reaches every part of the Spanish-speaking world, one in Canada, three in Europe and channels for Africa/South Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Under Warsaw’s leadership, EWTN has also increased its emphasis on news. The network formed a partnership several years ago with the Peruvian Catholic news agency, ACI Prensa, to jointly create EWTN news services for the web and an editors’ service available to newspapers. Then in 2011, EWTN acquired the National Catholic Register, a move that has bolstered the overall news operation. It also has benefited the Register, where print subscriptions are up almost 50%.

Finally, EWTN recently launched a Washington-based weekly evening news program that is expected to become a nightly show, five days a week, in the first half of 2014.

“News is very important for us as an area of focus because in the context of EWTN, I think Catholic news should have a catechetical dimension,” Warsaw said. “We define ourselves as a teaching apostolate. If you report the news from a Catholic perspective, you should be conveying to people a better understanding of what the Church teaches and how a particular story is impacted by the Church’s teaching.”

Warsaw said it is imperative that EWTN provide a credible, professional news product as an alternative to secular media outlets, which are often openly hostile to or ignorant about the Church and Church teaching.


John Garvey

John Garvey

John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America which works with EWTN on broadcasts of university events, said he couldn’t agree more with the decision to expand news coverage.

“The Church is faulted, both internally and externally, for being ineffective in getting its message out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” he explained. “Anything that strengthens the communications vehicles that promote Catholic teaching is a positive development. And given the financial challenges that are facing Catholic schools around the country and forcing some of them to close, having electronic and print media outlets that instruct the faithful is more important than ever.”

Legate Ann Southworth, president of Warsaw’s alma mater — Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass. — said she sees the new evening newscast as just one of the ways in which Warsaw is reaching into the culture through EWTN.

Through the network’s programming, she added, EWTN is helping improve the culture, reaching people who are confused or who have never understood Catholicism.

Although the network doesn’t do demographic ratings, Warsaw said EWTN has a good idea who it’s reaching from mail and other viewer contacts.   “What you see is that, contrary to what most people think of religious television, it’s a pretty diverse audience.” He attributes that to the availability of EWTN content on all media platforms, including social media, which draws a younger audience.

Warsaw said one of the key accomplishments of his tenure has been moving the network through the transition from a dynamic, charismatic founder to the next generation. In the process, he said, the network has grown exponentially and is stronger and healthier than it has been in its history. “That bodes well for the future,” he said.

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff„ writer.

Learn more:




EWTN Facts

Founded: Aug. 15, 1981

Headquarters: Irondale, Ala.

Radio: 250 stations (English and Spanish)

Television: 11 channels

Website: 3 million visitors/month

National Catholic Register: 36,000 subscribers

NCRegister.com: 50,000 digital subscribers

Catholic View for Women

Legates bring the New Evangelization to television with a worldwide audience . . .

The Catholic View For Women’s hosts: Janet Morana, Astrid Bennett Gutierrez and Teresa Tomeo

The Catholic View For Women’s hosts: Janet Morana, Astrid Bennett, Gutierrez and Teresa Tomeo

During the recent conclave, a number of mainstream journalists questioned the role of women in the Catholic Church. They angrily asked why women couldn’t be priests and why they weren’t in “leadership” roles.

Informed and inspired

For the last two years, EWTN has provided an answer to these questions — and to some outright misconceptions — through the weekly program The Catholic View for Women.

Hosted by three Catholic female leaders — two of them Legates — the show explores a range of issues specific to women. Topics include: radical feminism vs. new feminism, contraception, women leaders in the Church past and present, and pornography and its effects on women. The hosts speak about living single and challenges facing those who are divorced or separated. And they speak from experience: One of the hosts is single, another separated and another happily married. Their conversation is intelligent, informative, professional, fun — and unlike other similar-format television shows — civil.

“I got the idea about doing this show after meeting Teresa Tomeo in 2005 at the Catholic Radio Cruise,” said Janet Morana, a member of Legatus’ Northern New Jersey Chapter and executive director of Priests for Life. “Teresa and I started doing a radio show together every week after that, and then I thought, ‘Why don’t we do a good and wholesome TV show about women that could be an alternative to ABC’s The View, which is garbage.”

The Catholic View for Women debuted in March 2011. All three of the show’s hosts, it should be noted, were once far from the Catholic Church. All of them can relate to confused Catholics — and non-Catholics — when it comes to the “hard” issues: divorce, an all-male priesthood, abortion and contraception.

“I never had a problem with an all-male priesthood. My thing was abortion and contraception,” said Tomeo, a member of Legatus’ Detroit Northeast Chapter. “Again, I was on the surface. I was a hard-nosed journalist who had never cracked a Church document. Then I had a crisis in my marriage and lost my job. It was then that I realized my life had been built on sand.”

Tomeo’s husband Dominick Pastore came back to the Church and she eventually followed. Since 2000, Tomeo has hosted Catholic Connection, a daily morning radio program. She is an author, motivational speaker and columnist.

Coming home

“I was raised in pre-Vatican II,” Morana explained. “When I reached high school, I left the Church. I felt that women had the right to take the Pill. And the infallibility of the Pope? Why could he tell people what to do? I started skipping Mass and only went to Church for Easter and Christmas.”

After Morana got married and had children, she and her husband moved into a two-family house with her in-laws. Her mother-in-law went to daily Mass and began taking Morana’s children along. One day, Morana went to church — begrudgingly — to light a candle after having been hired during a difficult employment time in New York City.

Her eight-year-old saw her and introduced her to a young Fr. Frank Pavone, saying, “This is my mom, who won’t go to Confession.” Father Pavone wrote down his phone number and told Morana to call him.

“That phone number stayed in my purse for weeks,” Morana said. “Then I found it and finally called him. We met and I told him all my problems with the Church. He listened and then told me, ‘You’re an intelligent woman. You like to read and study. Tell you what: I’m going to give you a document. You read it and we can talk about it.’ He gave me Humanae Vitae.”

Within a few months, Morana had her first Confession in years and began attending Mass regularly. Through her subsequent ministries, she has become one of the most notable Catholic female leaders in the country, recently writing a new book, Recall Abortion.

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, executive director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and vice president of Hispanics for Life and Human Rights, also went through a period of questioning and disbelief.

“I was poorly catechized,” she explained. “I went through 13 years of Catholic school and never once learned about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. My parents separated and I stopped believing in a loving God.”

Gutierrez went to UCLA where she met a group of faithful Catholics who taught her about the faith and Who the Eucharist really is.

Social impact

EWTN reaches 100 million households around the world. Since The Catholic View for Women debuted two years ago, the show has made an impact on men and women from every continent.

“I have received emails from Catholic women in Nigeria, Australia and England,” Tomeo said. “We also have an impact on Protestant women who send us letters. The show makes Church teachings real for women.”

One of the program’s unique features is that the hosts give viewers “homework” at the end of every show: discussion questions and papal documents to read. All assigned readings can be downloaded from the show’s website —TheCatholicViewForWomen.com.

Viewers have also formed Catholic View For Women study groups. They use resources on the show’s website to fuel their discussions, including the ability to watch previous episodes online.

“We have done shows on women leaders in the Vatican — both past and present,” Tomeo explained. “We interviewed Dr. Flaminia Giovanelli, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. She is the number two person in this very important dicastery and has been working in the Vatican for 25 years.”

In 2008, Tomeo took part in the international Vatican Women’s Congress and was one of only 270 delegates. She is well acquainted with scores of women who work throughout the Vatican as leaders in their respective fields — as well as Catholic female leaders around the world.

Future topics the show plans to tackle include the contribution of Latinas to the U.S. church and the spiritual values of immigrants. Both of these issues are close to Gutierrez’s heart.

“Our dream is to get this show on the road,” said Morana. “Just like the show Crossing the Goal does men’s conferences, we would like to do women’s conferences.”

If anything, the conclave that elected Pope Francis highlighted an increasing aggressiveness towards the Church — in particular with regard to the all-male priesthood. The Catholic View for Women celebrates Catholicism’s treatment of women — and it explains why. Though this seems counter-cultural, it’s completely natural for well-formed Catholics.

“I once had a TV anchor say to me, ‘Women should be allowed to speak from the pulpit.’ Well I reach more people than the average priest does from his pulpit,” said Tomeo. “I reach people across the U.S. with my radio show — and we reach millions with our TV show. We have to challenge people when they say these things, because they are not reality. We have to keep encouraging people to read Church documents and see how the Church’s teachings are true.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

Defending liberty

Legatus members nationwide step up to protect religious freedom by fighting HHS mandate . . .

Legatus members are at the forefront of a legal battle being waged against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization in their insurance plans.

Of the estimated 27 lawsuits that have been filed by businesses, nonprofit organizations, and institutions since the mandate was announced Aug. 1, 2011, nearly a fourth involve Legatus members as plaintiffs.

In addition to a suit filed by Legatus itself, the list includes the cases of Hercules Industries of Denver (which recently won the first court order against the mandate), Triune Health, EWTN, Priests for Life, and Ave Maria University. All are owned or led by Legates. Detroit’s Weingartz Supply Co., and its president, Legate Daniel Weingartz,  also are plaintiffs in the Legatus suit, which challenges the  constitutionality of the HHS mandate under the First Amendment’s religious liberty and free speech provisions.

First Amendment rights

Matt Bowman

Matt Bowman, legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing 14 plaintiffs in the Hercules case and three other suits contesting the HHS mandate, said Legatus involvement in this issue shows that the organization is doing vital work to help Christian business leaders incorporate their faith into their everyday lives.

“The government in these cases is taking the position that you cannot exercise religion in your everyday life,” said Bowman. He quotes Pope Benedict XVI, who vigorously countered such sentiments in 2008 when he asked, “Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.”

The first suit against the HHS mandate was filed last November by Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts school in North Carolina, before the Jan. 20 publication of final rules on the directive. According to the Catholic News Agency, that case was dismissed in July on technical grounds. The college is expected to  continue its fight against the mandate.

Michael Warsaw

Led by Legate Michael Warsaw, EWTN became the first Catholic organization on Feb. 9 to legally challenge the HHS mandate after publication of the rules. That same month, two other groups with  Legates at the helm, Priests for Life (Legate Janet Morana) and Ave Maria University (Legate Jim Towey), followed with similar suits.

Denver’s Hercules Industries, where Legates William and Andrew Newland are CEO and vice president, respectively, filed suit April 3 and in July was granted an order against the mandate. That ruling, however, only applies to Hercules. In opposing the order, the Obama  administration said that people of faith give up their religious liberty when engaging in business.

Legate Mary Ann Yep, co-founder with her husband, Christopher, of Chicago’s Triune Health Group, disagrees. Triune is challenging  both the HHS mandate and a similar state mandate in Illinois in a suit filed in August. Yep told the Catholic News Agency that she cannot separate her identity as a Catholic woman from her identity as a business owner, and that she aims to live by the same principles whether she is at home, at work or in church.

Crain’s Chicago Business recently named Triune Health the Best Place to Work for Women in the Chicago metro area.

Spiritual warfare

As members engage in the fight for religious freedom on various fronts, Legatus is seeking to bolster their efforts by mobilizing members in a spiritual battle for the future of the country.

On Aug. 1, the date the HHS mandate took effect, Legatus’ executive director John Hunt asked chapters to offer 1,776 Masses and pray 1,776 hours of Eucharistic adoration before the Nov. 6 election.

The effort has garnered a tremendous response from Legates. As of publication, members have committed to 2,186 Masses and 750 hours of Eucharistic adoration. Orange County Chapter member Tim Busch has arranged for 600 Masses and 250 hours of adoration. Anthony Mullen, an At-Large member, has pledged 100 Masses.

Mullen has called the prayer effort “the single most important work we can possibly do to defeat religious intolerance in America. We have a sacred duty together before God to fight with all our being, relying on the greatest power in the universe: God’s sacrifice in the  Mass and his presence in the Eucharist.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

The power of Sheen

More than 30 years after his death, Archbishop Sheen continues to influence America . . .

Robert Finan was just a toddler when Archbishop Fulton Sheen rocked the prime time television air waves during the 1950s by unabashedly proclaiming the Catholic faith.

Although the Jersey Shore Legate was too young at the time to absorb the archbishop’s eloquent teaching, he said he will always remember the black-and-white image of “the man with the cape” on Life Is Worth Living, which aired from 1951-1957.

Thirty years after Sheen’s death, Finan watches the archbishop on EWTN whenever he can. He also asks Sheen’s intercession daily for the Domestic Church Media, a Catholic radio outreach. Finan and Legates John Burgess, Tom Oswald, Sean Flanagan and Michael FitzPatrick serve on the organization’s board.


sheen-jp2With Sheen’s cause for sainthood proceeding in Rome, more Catholics in the media are invoking the intercession of the man who pioneered Catholic radio and television ministry. Many of them — including Father John Corapi — frequently quote from Sheen’s talks and books.

Father Jonathan Morris, a Fox News Channel commentator, is one of the most visible Catholic priests on secular television today. He told Legatus Magazine that he asks for the archbishop’s intercession each day — and every time he goes on television.

As a seminarian studying homiletics, Fr. Morris said he watched videotapes of Sheen preaching and “took furious notes” on his style and content. He later learned more about Sheen’s influence from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who has a special devotion to Sheen.

“Archbishop Dolan’s love for the man and mission — and seeing him as a model — has inspired me to be closer to [Sheen] and to ask his intercession,” Fr. Morris said.

The New York archbishop recently told EWTN’s The World Over that he had watched Sheen on television, listened to his talks and even met him in person. But he especially became interested in Sheen while doing graduate work on the history of the Church in America.

“Without diluting the essentials of the faith, he was able to present it in an eminently attractive way,” Archbishop Dolan told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo. “That has always inspired me. I would never pretend to have his culture and bearing, but he’s an inspiration to me in trying to bring the immutable truths of our Catholic faith to a very changing culture and society.”

Archbishop Dolan’s weekly radio show and televised Masses are broadcast from St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Sheen is buried beneath the crypt of the high altar.


sheen-cameraSheen’s intercession also has been invoked by Jim Manfredonia, president of Domestic Catholic Media, which plans to name the building housing its radio station the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Media Evangelization.

Manfredonia was inspired to ask for Sheen’s prayers for Domestic Catholic Media after receiving an Archbishop Sheen prayer card with Christmas greetings from Fr. Andrew Apostoli, vice postulator for Archbishop Sheen’s canonization cause.

With his radio and TV programs, Manfredonia said, Sheen set the tone for Catholic media today. “An archbishop of the Catholic Church with a primetime show is unheard of today. He really set the standard not just for Catholic programming, but religious programming.”

Father Apostoli, who was ordained by Sheen in 1967, said Life Is Worth Living initially aired on Tuesday evenings to meet a network obligation to provide a certain amount of religious content each week.

“That hour was considered a dead spot,” he said, because it was opposite Milton Berle, and the network figured no one would be watching a religious show at that hour. “After the first show they got 28,000 letters,” he said, “and within six months more people were watching him than Milton Berle.” The show eventually reached 30 million viewers per week.

In addition to his work in radio and television, Sheen was a prolific writer, producing 67 books. “He had the triple-pronged attack: radio, television broadcasts and books,” Fr. Apostoli said. “I hope he will be eligible to become a doctor of the Church. His output was magnificent.”

Sheen began his broadcast career on the radio in 1930 with The Catholic Hour, which ran for 22 years and reached an estimated four million listeners. From 1950-1966, Sheen served as national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and from 1962-1965, he attended all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council.

Father Apostoli said Sheen’s canonization is important to the life of the Church. “He very much was a spokesman for this time. We can’t let the voice of this great man go silent.”

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints opened Sheen’s cause for canonization in 2002, conferring on him the title “Servant of God.” Two alleged miracles attributed to his intercession were documented in 2006, and last year the diocesan portion of the process ended and the cause was officially opened in Rome.

Father Morris said that it wasn’t so much Sheen’s technique or even the information he imparted that cemented his legacy. “It was the deeply seated conviction about who he was, about who God was and about what the world needed that could only come forth from a deep life of prayer.

“He’s a model for us in these times to think big and to think different. He’s a model for us to meet the new challenges — and the new opportunities that exist to communicate the timeless gospel message.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.


Fulton Joseph Sheen

Born: May 8, 1895, El Paso, Ill.

Priestly ordination: Sept. 20, 1919

Episcopal ordination: June 11, 1951

Named archbishop: Oct. 6, 1969

Television: Life is Worth Living, 1951-1957

Awards: Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy, University of Louvain, 1923.
Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Television Personality, 1952

Taught: Catholic University of America, 1926-1950

National Director: Society for the Propagation of the Faith, 1950-1966

Second Vatican Council: Attended all sessions, 1962-1965

Died: Dec. 9, 1979

Cause: Opened Sept. 14, 2002, Diocese of Peoria, Ill.


Morris County Legates on national television

Members of the Morris County Chapter will appear on EWTN’s Defending Life . . .

Fr. Pavone on Defending Life

Fr. Pavone on Defending Life

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Priests for Life is proud to announce that several Morris County Legates will appear as featured guests on the longest-running pro-life TV series in the world, Defending Life, which airs on the EWTN Global Catholic Network. The FitzPatrick and Oswald families will each appear on two episodes of this season’s Defending Life.

Defending Life is the largest and longest running pro-life TV show in the world. Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and Morris County Legate, co-hosts and co-produces the show. It runs Fridays at 10 pm and Saturdays at 2 am. It also airs on EWTN radio on Fridays at 1 am, Saturdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 5 am (all times Eastern). There are 26 new episodes every year, and a brand new series of episodes has just begun.

Oct. 2: Kathleen FitzPatrick shares the story of her unplanned pregnancy resulting from a college data rape. Despite the huge challenges she faced as a pregnant college student, Kathleen chose life for her son, Gabriel. She relates with joy her gratitude for the gift of motherhood as well as the strong pro-life upbringing she received from her parents.

Oct. 9 Kathleen’s parents, Michael and Beth Anne FitzPatrick, relate the emotions they experienced when they first learned of Kathleen’s pregnancy, and how they supported Kathleen’s decision in favor of their grandson’s life.

Nov. 6: Tom and Gina Oswald share the unique joys and challenges they faced as they raised Mary, their daughter with special needs, and how their experiences taught them first-hand the true meaning of the Gospel of Life.

Nov. 13: Mary Oswald joins her family to share her experience as a woman with a disability and how the pro-life movement holds special personal meaning for her in an age of eugenic abortion. Don’t miss this profoundly moving testimony to the dignity of all human life and the power of courage!

If you don’t get EWTN on your television, you can still watch the programs live online at EWTN.com by selecting the Television tab and then Live TV – English. For more information and program topics, visit www.PriestsForLife.org/DefendingLife