Tag Archives: Michael Warsaw

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.


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.

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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

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.