Tag Archives: national catholic register

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.


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

Mainstream movie-making with a message

Legatus editor Patrick Novecosky visited the set of a new faith-themed film . . .

In early June, Legatus editor Patrick Novecosky had the chance to visit the set of MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, an upcoming film starring Patricia Heaton, Trace Adkins, Sean Astin and Sarah Drew. Novecosky says, “It was a thrill to hang out with the cast and crew, and fellow journalists… and Patricia Heaton called me out of the group of reporters like I was one of her own kids. But that’s a story for another day.” He wrote about the new film for the National Catholic Register. Watch for future blog post as the film nears its release date.


In MOMS’ NIGHT OUT—a fast-paced, family comedy—four moms and a beleaguered cabbie discover in love, marriage and parenting, it can all go wrong . . . and still turn out right. (From right: Sarah Drew, Abbie Cobb, Patricia Heaton, Andrea Logan White and David Hunt). Photo: Saeed Adyani.

Forthcoming Moms’ Night Out Celebrates Christian Values With Humor

I have a confession to make: I don’t watch television. Reality TV doesn’t move me, crime dramas are a dime a dozen, and today’s sitcoms are just not funny.

Read the rest of the article.

Cathedral rector helped start chapter

The St. Louis Chapter’s beloved chaplain heard about Legatus and took action . . .

Monsignor Joseph Pins

Monsignor Joseph Pins
St. Louis Chapter

Any Catholic who’s ever spent much time in St. Louis will tell you that the city’s cathedral basilica is a must-see. Its mosaics collectively contain 41.5 million glass tesserae pieces in more than 7,000 colors. Covering 83,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest mosaic collections in the world. The parish’s rector, Monsignor Joseph Pins, is nearly as colorful as the basilica he’s in charge of. He is beloved by local Legates for his kind demeanor and for helping establish the chapter.

You were an early vocation. Tell me about your call to the priesthood.

It was during the Stations of the Cross on a Lenten Friday when I was in first grade. I knew that God wanted me to do something for Him and that I should be a priest. Over the next 20 years it would come back again periodically. So, I went to the archdiocesan seminary and was ordained in 1970.

How did you get started with Legatus?

When I was assigned to the old cathedral downtown, we had a lot of business people who would come over to church to pray and to go to Mass. Many years later, I read about Legatus in the National Catholic Register. I called the executive director because the article said this was an organization for Catholic CEOs and presidents. I said “Well, I’ve got a whole parish full of them!”

He later called me and said they were coming to see the archbishop and try to organize a chapter here. He asked me for recommendations for a chapter coordinator and members. The archbishop later called me and asked if I wanted to be the chaplain, and I agreed to do it to get the chapter started. Well, I’m still doing it. Our official chartering was in December 1996.

What impact has Legatus had on you?

It has challenged me to recognize that a lot of these people — who are very busy in their own lives — are very serious about their faith. It has challenged me always to be prepared for a homily and for Mass. It keeps me on my toes.

You’ve been assigned to the cathedral twice — as associate pastor and as rector. What’s it like being at a busy, tourist-attraction-like parish?

It challenges us to recognize that we have a unique opportunity to evangelize people who would never otherwise set foot inside a church, in terms of the tourists.

We have a very expansive organization, Friends of the Cathedral, who are in charge of guides, docents who are always here for the tourists, to help them to appreciate this church. When they explain the mosaics, they’re explaining art. But they also use that art to explain the reasonableness and beauty of our faith. It’s not infrequent that we’ll hear someone come in and say, “There has to be a God.”

Outside of your priestly duties, do you have any hobbies?

I read a lot. I read a good deal of Agatha Christie-type mysteries, and I read a lot of Joseph Pieper-type philosophy stuff — only because I enjoy thinkers.

I also have a fascination with fountain pens. I have a collection of old fountain pens — some older fountain pens and some handmade fountain pens.

What’s your oldest one?

It’s a nurse’s pen, a Schaefer that goes back to about the early 1920s. It’s smaller than the normal pens and the clip on it is a little different because nurses would wear it on their uniform by hooking it on the cuff of their sleeve.