EWTN’s “Called and Chosen – Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno” Showcases Military Chaplain’s Heroics On and Off the Battlefield

In this scene from EWTN original docudrama “Called and Chosen – Father Vincent R. Capodanno,” the Military Chaplain, played by Actor James Hutson, hears the battlefield confession of a fellow Marine, played by Michael Sedler. Premieres 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Aug. 30 on EWTN, http://www.ewtn.com/channelfinder. Encores at 3 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 2; and 3 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 4.

In these days when the world is in so much need of real heroes, Father Vincent R. Capodanno stands out as a man of God, who is worthy of emulation. If you want your teenagers to understand what it means to live for more than yourself, and how to set an example without preaching, then gather the family around the television at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Aug. 30 for the premiere of “Called and Chosen – Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno.” (Encores at 3 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 2; and 3 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 4.)

This EWTN original docudrama depicts the life of a former Maryknoll missionary in Taiwan, a young man who would eventually die – at the age of 38 — on the killing fields of Vietnam as he was administering the sacraments and pulling others to safety. This extraordinary priest died, not because he cared about the politics of war, but because he cared about the men who were dying on those fields; men who needed God and the sacraments; men who needed what only a Catholic priest who was unafraid to die could give them.

The real Father Vincent R. Capodanno, the Military Chaplain whose life is depicted in EWTN’s new docudrama, “Called and Chosen.”

The film will be preceded by a special “EWTN Live” with Writer/Director James Kelty (“Kateri”); George J. Phillips, Chairman of the Board of the Father Capodanno Guild (who served with the priest and whose testimony is also in the film); and Mary Preece, Vice-Postulator of Cause of Father Vincent R. Capodanno.

“Not only was Father Capodanno a hero, he was one of those people who had charisma while still being a very humble person,” says Kelty. “People just wanted to be around him — everyone who knew him told me that.”

The docudrama begins by depicting the priest’s idyllic early life as the son of Italian-American immigrants in Staten Island, N.Y.  Young Vincent was born into a family of faith in 1929, and was captivated early on by stories of brave missionary priests whose martyrdom was portrayed in the stories and films of his day. Little did anyone know that this little boy would one day join the ranks of these martyrs.

Battle scene from EWTN’s “Called and Chosen – Father Vincent R. Capodanno.”

“Called and Chosen” is most riveting in the last hour of the 90-minute film, which intersperses the testimonies of those Marines with whom Fr. Capodanno served with realistic battle scenes that put viewers into the heart of the action. We see a Military Chaplain who went into battle – even though it wasn’t required of him — armed only with the weapon of his faith.

Writer/Director Kelty is clearly an admirer. “He had a quiet strength, a way of mixing his ministry, the heart of which was to bring Christ to people,  in a way that made people feel that he wasn’t just pushing something on them, that he cared about them. When he was stateside (on leave), he would go to the hospital to visit someone he didn’t even know. He was that kind of person. He just never said no. Some of us, our basket is full. We have to withdraw. But he didn’t seem to do that. He was always there, available to everybody.”

In this war photo from Vietnam, the real Father Vincent Capodanno leads the Marines he served in prayer.

As this film explains, this was a priest who received 120 to 150 letters a day from former Marines who had returned home – letters he always did his best to answer. This was a priest who handed out St. Christopher medals and rosaries – including his own when he ran out – and who asked the recipients to pray for the enemy.

The men who served with Father Capodanno depict a priest who was fearless, who lived and prayed with the troops, who had a tremendous ability to listen, who could somehow tell what a Marine wasn’t saying, who had a sense of humor, and who almost always allowed others to decide when a conversation had ended.

Father Capodanno died exactly where he wanted to be, where he knew God willed him to be. As one Marine who served with him said upon seeing Father’s body: “Every other American I had seen killed had a very terrified look on their face. He was at peace.”

Fifteen of the actors portraying the young Marines in EWTN’s “Called and Chosen – Father Vincent R. Capodanno” are students from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif.

Kelty says the hand of God was on the film from start to finish. He managed to connect with John Paul the Great University in San Diego, Calif., which directed him to five recent graduates who Kelty said did a phenomenal job of lighting and shooting the film.

Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif. connected Kelty with 15 students who do a superb job of playing Marines in the film. The actor who plays Father Capodanno even looks like the priest he portrays. The young actors were thrilled to meet a number of the Marines when the veterans visited the set during the filming, something Kelty called a great grace. “Hollywood extras wouldn’t have felt it the way these [Catholic student actors] did. The grace came from the vets that knew him and from these young guys who wanted so much to connect with that kind of heroism and courage and faith.”

Viewers will want to listen closely to the opening montage. Kelty was able to obtain two short snippets of Father Capodanno’s voice. In the first snippet, the priest calls upon God to grant absolution of sins. In the second snippet, part of a sermon Father gave to the Marines in Vietnam, you can hear him tell them: “God chooses the moment to call us back.”

The Marines who served with Father Vincent Capodanno said they never saw a priest celebrate Mass with such devotion.

God called Father Capodanno home as he was administering the sacraments and saving the life of a fellow soldier. As Jesus said in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

This film will not only make you proud to be Catholic, it will make you want to be a better Catholic and, whatever you are facing, it will give you courage. After watching the heroism of this young priest, viewers will want to take to heart the message that Father Capodanno imparted to his men before they went into what would be this priest’s final battle: “Do not be afraid this day, for God is with us.”

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Encountering God With ‘Real Life Catholic’s’ Chris Stefanick

“Real Life Catholic” Host Christ Stefanick

How does the average Catholic encounter God? “Real Life Catholic” Host Chris Stefanick is on a quest to find out. Join him! (Airs 11 p.m. ET, Tuesdays beginning June 6; 5:30 p.m. ET, Thursdays, and 2 a.m. ET, Sundays. Also live streams online and at www.facebook.com/ewtnonline.)

“I don’t hear the voice of God often, but I asked Him what He wanted us to do with our video ministry,” Stefanick said. “I felt like God was telling me, ‘Tell My story.’ And what that meant was not to talk about Him, but to show how He is moving in His Church, in average ordinary people’s lives. So that’s what we did!”

In his quest to encounter God in fellow Catholics, Stefanick travels from the cranberry bogs and crawfish ponds of Wisconsin and Louisiana, to the beaches of Hawaii, the youth in Poland, New Mexico, and more. You’ll hear from people encountering God in their busy lives and in the death of loved ones.

In the cranberry bogs of Wisconsin for the “Holy Cranberries!” episode of “Real Life Catholic.”

“One of my best friends lost his wife,” Stefanick said. “His oldest child is 8-years-old. Six months later, we filmed our death with dignity episode. For me, that was stunningly beautiful and hope-filled without whitewashing the pain. In every experience of life, He [Jesus] is there.”

Stefanick is 41 years old. What experiences in this young man’s life led him to put together such a show?

“My parents dragged me against my will to a retreat,” he said. “I was in 8th grade. It really transformed me. It wasn’t just the speakers or the music, it was the people. I could see that they were alive. Pope Benedict XVI has a beautiful quote. He says the early Christians called themselves ‘the living ones.’ When I found myself in the presence of these people, I realized I was dead inside.”

Dead? Even though he was only in 8th grade, Stefanick says he had been drinking after school on a regular basis.

Fr. Nguyen talks about his escape from Vietnam in this “Freedom in Philadelphia” episode of “Real Life Catholic.”

“I was on the wrong way really fast, and I became an apostle really fast. I’ve done nothing but share the faith ever since.”

Since his conversion, Stefanick has graduated from Franciscan University at Steubenville, married his college sweetheart, had six children, and worked in parish youth ministry in East Los Angeles, in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin for Bishop Jerome Listecki and then Bishop (now Cardinal) Raymond Burke, and in the Diocese of Denver for Archbishop Charles Chaput. Since 2012, he has used all of that experience and all of those contacts to build his own non-profit, “Real Life Catholic,” which is the ministry on which this series is based.

“Real Life Catholic” goes to Hawaii in this episode entitled “Kauai Catholic.”

Stefanick says he wanted the show to be every bit as good as secular reality television shows, and he believes his team succeeded. In fact, he wanted the series to be so fun and so engaging that those who watch it will want to send links on social media not only to their Catholic friends, but to those they know are on the fence, and to those friends who aren’t even Christian.

“I think our biggest crisis in the church today is that a lot of people associate Catholicism with various issues which are unimportant. The branding of our faith is so removed from the Gospel. People don’t think of Catholicism as the Church of the Gospel. The world has come to see Catholicism as a list of rules and regulations.

“Real Life Catholic” recreates this iconic scene from “Rocky.” It’s part of the Freedom in Philadelphia episode of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic.” Find EWTN at http://www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.

“This program is something to show the world that, ‘No! We have something incredibly life-giving.’ When you come into relationship [with God], ordinary life looks the same on the outside, but it’s completely different on the inside. It’s the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In order to get in touch with the Spirit, Stefanick said he had to learn to quiet his soul, to take a deep breath, and to learn how to recognize God in the moment.

Today, he says: “Every moment, every Catholic is surrounded by the grace of God. If we learn to experience it, we can be transformed by it. We become ‘the living ones.’ Filming this show has made me a better person and I hope it has the same effect on the people who watch it. I think it will.”

To learn more: Follow EWTN’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ewtnonline, which will live stream the show and provide reminders about when it will air on EWTN television. (Find EWTN at http://www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.)  To sign up for Stefanick’s newsletter, to get monthly video clips and links to the show, and for schedule updates, please go to www.RealLifeCatholic.com.

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EWTN to Air the Message of Fatima – Month by Month, Message by Message

Our Lady of Fatima appears to the three Shepherd Children in this scene from “The Message of Fatima.”

The Miracle of the Sun occurred on Oct. 13, 1917, during the sixth and final monthly apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. A torrential rain had been falling. The ground became extremely muddy. Everything and everyone was soaked. The sun, which began zigzagging in the heavens and throwing off many colors, suddenly appeared to become unhinged from the sky and to hurtle down towards the earth. People screamed in fright. And then, in an instant, the sun returned to the heavens and the ground and everyone standing on it was completely dry.

The three Fatima seers kneel in awe at the sight of Our Lady of Fatima in a scene from EWTN’s “The Message of Fatima.”

“I first heard about the Miracle of the Sun as a young child,” said Stefano Mazzeo, writer/producer/director of EWTN’s blockbuster new mini-series “The Message of Fatima.” “I thought, ‘How do [unbelievers] explain that?’ Someone said it was mass hysteria. But it couldn’t be because people outside the village were seeing it. Even then, I realized that this was a supernatural event.”

During this 100th anniversary year, the Church invites her children to return to Fatima. To assist in this effort, EWTN is premiering a blockbuster mini-series, “The Message of Fatima.” Over the next six months, viewers will have the opportunity to experience the six apparitions, month by month, message by message.

Director Stefano Mazzeo gives directions to cast and crew for a scene with the Angel in “The Message of Fatima.”

Not everyone knows that an Angel appeared to the three shepherd children in 1916 to prepare them for the apparitions from the Mother of God the following year. Episode 1 of this important docu-drama, which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, May 10, prepares viewers for what is to come by conveying the Angel’s messages. At 8 p.m. ET that same evening, Fr. Mitch Pacwa will interview Writer/Director Mazzeo on “EWTN Live.”

Actress Julia as Jacinta taking direction from Writer/Director Stefano Mazzeo.

Then, just as at Fatima in 1917, EWTN will air an account of one of the six apparitions on the 13th of the same month in which they originally occurred. Each monthly episode will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, beginning Saturday, May 13 and ending Friday, Oct. 13 with the Miracle of the Sun.

 

Filmed on location in Fatima, the series will feature reenactments by children who look stunningly like the original seers, expert commentary, an original score, authentic costumes, and settings such as the church in which the Fatima seers were baptized, went to their first Confession, and received their First Holy Communion.

What is the message of Fatima? There is a lot to it, but Mazzeo, who was also the writer/director or producer of “The Inquisition” and “Wales – The Golden Thread of Faith” on EWTN, says: “In every apparition, Our Lady asks us to pray the rosary, but she also asks for acts of reparation and sacrifices for sinners because hell exists and there are people in hell. We cannot say who is in hell, but we must make sacrifices to keep people from going there. We need to try and live a pure life and to make reparations to save sinners.”

Despite the supernatural subject of the series or, more likely because of it, filming hasn’t been easy. As Fr. Louis Marie O.P., Promoter General of the Rosary, one of the film’s experts, told Mazzeo: “If you’re working for Our Lady, the devil will attack you.”

Fatima seers Lucia and Jacinta dance while Francisco plays his little pipe.

Mazzeo said he soon realized that falling into bed after a hard day of filming and forgetting to say his rosary was not a good idea! “I got attacked by a group of mosquitoes and my face swelled up really huge,” he said. “Also, the audio didn’t record one morning, so we had to shoot the whole thing again.”

After incidents like the above, Mazzeo said the crew became “very particular to say our prayers.” And they paid off. “I’m sure there’s been a spiritual battle over the program, but I think we’re winning it.”

The Fatima Seers, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, (top) and the children who portray them (bottom) in “The Message of Fatima.”

The casting is phenomenal. The three Portuguese children, who look eerily like the three seers, are the exact ages of the seers. Because they can’t speak English, filming was a challenge, but the children’s enthusiasm for their roles is evident in the final product.

For the role of the Blessed Mother, Mazzeo was presented with a screen test by a young Catholic actress in London named Rachel Clifford, who immediately got the part. “We couldn’t just have anyone playing Our Lady of Fatima,” he says. “The actress not only had to look the part; she had to be the part. To find a devout Catholic girl in England who looks like Our Lady of Fatima when in costume is providential.”

Mazzeo’s production team also managed to obtain a Dorthean habit, which is what Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries, wore after becoming a nun. For the important Portuguese shoot, the group worked with a local Fatima group called Casa do Povo, who supplied the costumes and did reenactments of the children and adults singing and dancing in and around Fatima. They also located and hired people from local film production armories in the south of England, who arrived on set with real machine guns (which regular citizens aren’t allowed to own) for an important scene in Episode 4.

Says Mazzeo: “What Sister Lucia saw [on July 13, 1917] was a vision of a congregation representing the Church coming out of a desolate city in ruins. The Pope was leading bishops, priests, nuns, and other religious and the congregation up a hill. The Pope kneels in front of the cross, puts his hand on it and prays – and soldiers arrive and shoot them all.”

The Fatima children were shepherds as is shown in this scene from EWTN’s “The Message of Fatima.”

To give the series its rich context, Mazzeo also brought in experts such as Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas, rector of the Shrine of Fatima; Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop Emeritus of Krakow, Poland; Nuno Prazeres and Ana Reis of The World Apostolate of Fatima; Fatima Theologian Pedro Valinho Gomes; Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan; Most Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, England; Fatima Author Donal Foley, as well as Fr. Louis Marie.

The Fatima Shrine today attracts people from all over the globe!

Mazzeo said he hopes viewers will take away a greater belief and knowledge of the message of Fatima. “I always try to go for the wow factor and I think Our Lady has helped a lot with that.”

But while the mini-series is entertaining, it is also important.

“Pope Benedict XVI said, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete,” Mazzeo said. “The message will continue to be lived out as long as there are people on earth. It’s a private revelation, so we don’t have to believe it, but it does lead us to and re-emphasize the deposit of faith. I cannot say for sure that anything will happen this year, but I believe that the message of Fatima is not finished yet. The prophesies are ongoing.”

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Behind the Scenes of EWTN’s Must-See Documentary: “In the Name of Miracles”

Pope John Paul II, the Divine Mercy Pope, blesses Maureen and Bob Digan. Maureen was healed of Milroy’s lymphedema after her husband felt led to take her to St. Faustina’s tomb to pray for healing. That miracle resulted in the beatification of the Polish sister who is now known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy!

Filmmakers know a story when they hear it. So when Filmmaker/Producer Elizabeth Wilda was asked to meet with Maureen and Bob Digan, she immediately agreed. After all, as Sister Ruth McGoldrick of the Sisters of Providence had explained to her, Maureen Digan, who suffered from Milroy’s lymphedema, had been cured after praying in front of St. Faustina’s tomb at the behest of her husband Bob. In addition, after that same visit, her invalid son Bobby was partially healed.

However, for a filmmaker, a good story is only one part of the equation. As she delved into it, Wilda quickly realized that, from a worldly perspective, the decision to film Maureen and Bob Digan’s story was, well, “nuts.” At least that’s what Wilda’s husband told her.

Bob & Maureen Digan

For one thing, Wilda had a busy full-time job at the University of Massachusetts, where she had already filmed a number of historical documentaries. Her projects included one on the Sisters of Providence, from whom she got the introduction to the Digans, and one on Catholic Sisters in America, which was shown on public television. So she didn’t exactly have a lot of time on her hands.

Even worse, there was no budget. As in zero, zilch, nada. How was she supposed to finance this venture which would ultimately result in the documentary, “In the Name of Miracles,” which airs at 1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 30 on EWTN?

Maureen Digan with her son Bobby, who was also partially healed at St. Faustina’s tomb. The young boy lived another 10 years after that healing.

Despite significant obstacles, Wilda obviously decided to take the project on. But why?

“I met Maureen and Bob and fell in love with them,” she said. “They are great people. I also met Fr. Tony, who was Maureen’s spiritual director. He’s at Mount Holyoke, which is 15 minutes from me.”

But, of course, liking her subjects is only one part of the answer. It was the Lord who put this project on her heart; it was the Lord who took her on what she now calls a seven-year faith journey.

“I didn’t know much about the Divine Mercy devotion before this,” she said. “I thought it was for Polish people! But I loved what I learned. I fell in love with Faustina. It’s enriched my life so much. I’m very grateful to God for the whole process.”

And what a process it was! The reason it took seven long years to get the documentary made was because Wilda had to do all the filming “on the side.”

The Sisters of Providence introduced Filmmaker/Producer Elizabeth Wilda to Maureen and Bob Digan and encouraged her to make a film telling their story. “In the Name of Miracles” airs 1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 30 on EWTN.

“Whenever I had the time, I’d go film something,” she said. “I had purchased a basic music library that was copyright free so I could use that. And Bob had tons of family photos, which I scanned and used.”

As she worked, Wilda began to see that the resulting documentary, “A Time for Miracles” was, above all, a love story.

“It’s a love story on many levels,” she said, “It’s a love story about God, and a love story with Bob and Maureen. Bob – I think his faith is so rock solid that it’s inspiring. Maureen has a beautiful outlook, such a sparkle about her, she’s inspiring too. I want to let people know that nothing’s impossible. We have a wonderful God and all things are possible. It’s never hopeless.”

Wilda also began to understand on a deeper level than ever before what she calls “the big thing — that God loves everyone.”

Maureen & Bob Digan

Wilda also began reading everything she could about St. Faustina. “I can’t get over what an amazing woman she was and how open to the spirit. With what little education she had, the beautiful writing of her ‘Diary’ is extraordinary. You can’t help but be inspired by it.”

As she learned more and more about the Divine Mercy devotion, Wilda’s sense of purpose grew. She realized that the devotion is more important now than ever. In fact, she believes the Lord meant it for a time such as the one in which we are now living.

“Just looking at the darkness in the world today – people need hope. I want to let people know that nothing’s impossible. We have a wonderful God and all things are possible. It’s never hopeless.”

“In the Name of Miracles,” the story of Maureen Digan whose miraculous healing resulted in the canonization of St. Faustina, is available for purchase from EWTN Religious Catalogue.

Need hope? Need light? There is much more to this story than what we’ve revealed here. Find out more, when EWTN airs “In the Name of Miracles” at 1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 30. Want to purchase your own copy of this film or discover other Divine Mercy-related items? Check out EWTN Religious Catalogue at http://bit.ly/2pN9V12.

After you watch the documentary, please let us know what you learned and how you think it might change your own life!

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EWTN Celebrates the Legacy of Terri Schiavo’s Life and Tragic Death With A Special Mass

Terri Schiavo in happier times.

Imagine that your married child or sister suffers an unexplained collapse while home alone with her husband, who becomes her legal guardian. You try to discover what happened to her – you believed her to be a healthy 26-year-old woman – but the only information you receive is her ominous discharge diagnosis from the hospital: hypoxic encephalopathy – brain injury caused by oxygenation starvation to the brain

Terry Schiavo after the accident.

Your loved one is not dying. She does not suffer from a life-threatening disease. She is not on a machine or “brain dead.” She has not suffered a heart attack and tests show she was not on drugs. In fact, she interacts with you when you visit. After a short time in physical therapy, she even begins to say words.

You offer to take responsibility for your loved one, but after a couple years – in which her husband moves your loved one to another state, receives a substantial jury award, and marries another woman – he moves your loved one to a nursing home, and ultimately denies you the ability to see her. He also petitions the court for permission to deny her food and water – which will result in a painful death by starvation and dehydration – saying she would not want to live in such a condition. Despite an epic fight in the courts, a judge eventually grants this request and for 13 days, you must stand by as your loved one dies a slow and painful death.

Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, is President of the Life and Hope Network, which assists medically vulnerable patients like his sister.

Bobby Schindler does not have to imagine this. He lived it. This is a synopsis of the story of his sister, Terri Schiavo, who died in 2005 after a 15-year battle.

“Her name is seared into the national memory as a face of the right-to-life movement,” Schindler says today, “but many are now too young to remember her witness.”

However, the Schindler family will never – can never – forget. In memory of Terri, the family founded the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, whose purpose is “to uphold human dignity through service to the medically vulnerable.” Since its founding in 2005, the Network, where Terri’s mom and sister also work, has advocated for and assisted more than 2,500 medically vulnerable patients and families. The Network’s services – which include patient and family advocacy, attorney and physical crisis referrals, spiritual and emotional support, advanced directive guidance, and ethical guidance – are available to any at-risk individual or family by calling 1-855-300-HOPE (4673) or by emailing lifeline@lifeandhope.com.

More than a decade after this tragedy, EWTN will commemorate “Terri’s Day” with two special events. First, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will celebrate Mass at 8 a.m. ET, Friday, April 7, with encores at noon ET and 7 p.m. ET. The Mass is part of an annual day of prayer and outreach, which focuses on medically vulnerable patients and families who must fight for their right to proper care. Archbishop Chaput will speak during the Mass about issues impacting America’s medically vulnerable.

Father Mitch Pacwa will also interview Bobby Schindler and Archbishop Chaput about the fate of individuals who are treated as less worthy of care and medical treatment by the healthcare industry. However, you will have to wait to see that one. It’s scheduled to air at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, June 28 on “EWTN Live” – so mark your calendars.

Mary Schindler visits with her daughter Terri in the days before her visitation rights were withdrawn.

Thanks to her loving family, Terri’s life and legacy means that the medically vulnerable now have hope of receiving the help that Terri herself was denied in her lifetime.

Note: On this same day as Terri’s special Mass, the Network is pleased to present two related programs. First, at 10 a.m. ET, Friday, April 7, EWTN will air “Death With Dignity? A Closer Look at Euthanasia.” This program provides an exploration of the moral, political, and personal aspects of the euthanasia and features candid interviews with proponents of euthanasia as well as poignant accounts of victims of involuntary euthanasia.

Second, don’t miss “Vulnerable: The Euthanasia Deception,” a chilling look at the effects recent euthanasia and assisted suicide laws have had on society. This program, featuring personal testimonies and expert legal and medical analysis, airs 5 p.m. ET,  Friday, April 7.

 

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EWTN United Kingdom Is Getting Its First Studio: Guess Where!

walsingham-altar-with-our-lady-and-child-jesus

The Slipper Chapel Shrine

EWTN will soon open its first studio in the UK. If you’re from England, you’re not allowed to guess at the location because you’ll almost certainly know the answer as soon as we start with our clues! But it might not be so easy for the rest of the world! Ready?

walsingham-cloistered-gardens

The Cloister Garden

Clue #1: The studio will be located in a village named for a Shrine, which is located about one mile away.

Clue #2: The Shrine is one of the four great pilgrim sites of Medieval Christendom.

Clue #3: Prior to the Reformation, every King of England, including Henry VIII, came on pilgrimage to this famous Shrine. In fact, Henry VIII was a great benefactor of the Shrine, until the Pope denied his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. The enraged King then ordered the complete destruction of the Shrine!

Clue #4: The Shrine, built in 1061 at the request of Our Lady, is a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth, where the Annunciation took place, and predates the Holy House of Loretto by 200 years.

walsingham-abbey-grounds-3

Abbey Grounds

Clue #5: The Shrine was raised to the status of a minor basilica last year!

By now, many of you have probably figured out that we’re talking about the Village of Walsingham, which Msgr. John Armitage, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, said is “one holy mile” from the Basilica. To get to the Shrine, which is visited by about 300,000 people annually, you have to pass through the village. The rector calls it a “holy mile” because many pilgrims go to confession in what is popularly known as the village’s “slipper chapel” (a term for sandals), and then walk that mile barefoot as a form of penance.

walsingham-way-of-the-cross

Way of the Cross

In May, EWTN will officially open a small studio in one of the pre-existing homes that line the village’s main thoroughfare. The three-story home will be called Annunciation House and will also serve as headquarters for several other apostolates such as the Catholic Grandparents Association and Youth 2000. EWTN Regional Manager Ian Murray is excited by the possibilities.

“Now we are being exposed to all of the pilgrims,” he said. “We’ll have our studio and a reception area with TV screens running clips and short information introducing EWTN to those coming to the Shrine. We’re working closely with Msgr. John and Youth 2000. We will also go out into the parishes to run missions.”

walsingham-reredos

A detail of the Reredos

Because the Basilica is a National Shrine, Murray says the hope is to bring together “a network of Catholic Shrines – of which there are many across England – so people can rediscover the walking pilgrimage,” which they hope will include Shrines in England, Wales and Scotland!

Msgr. Armitage says the Basilica, which has been dubbed England’s Nazareth, attracts people of many ethnic groups include Sri Lankan Tamils, Poles, Ukrainians, Orthodox, Melkite Greek Catholics, and more. But Americans are by far the largest group to descend upon Walsingham every year.

walsingham-slipped-chapel-2

The Slipper Chapel’s Altar & Shrine

“During World War II, American troops were based here before D-Day,” said Mgr. Armitage. “The first Mass celebrated post-Reformation, on the site of the original Shrine that was destroyed, was celebrated by an American Army Chaplain in 1944 in preparation for the invasion.”

That tells Catholics all they need to know about the Allied Troop’s success in that seemingly impossible and very bloody battle.

Today, Msgr. Armitage says: “The Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham is a place of great healing.”

With its new studio, EWTN hopes to advance its mission of evangelization throughout Europe and the world, and to help bring pilgrims to the Shrine so that the wishes of Our Lady of Walsingham might be fulfilled.

As Pope Leo XIII famously said: “When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”

Posted in Blessed Mother, Catholic, England, EWTN, Our Lady, Religion, Television, TV, Uncategorized, Walsingham | 2 Comments

‘The Father Effect:’ A Documentary That Just Might Change Your Life

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John Finch has transformed his own life and that of many others with his new apostolate, The Perfect Father Ministries, and a powerful 60-minute docu-drama, “The Father Effect,” which airs this week on EWTN.

When John Finch was 11 years old, his dad committed suicide.

As a result, the fatherless boy, who grew up in government-assisted housing, would become a self-described social alcoholic, a traveling salesman with an unlimited account, and a “Johnny Good Time” life-of-the-party kind of guy, who was always ready to buy a round of drinks.

“I was trying to get affirmation from others because I didn’t get it from my dad,” Finch says as he looks back over the first 30 years of his life. “My mom was the sweetest angel in the world. If it wasn’t for her, no telling where I would be. But she couldn’t be a dad.”

About six years ago, a friend brought up the concept of a “father wound.”

“In that conversation, God planted a seed. I started to understand the issues I had and how it was a result of the suffering I experienced after my dad abandoned me. If my dad didn’t want to have anything to do with me, then I bet God was the same way. God began to show me more and more about my father; how he too grew up without a father. It was a generational thing I didn’t even know existed. I said, ‘This is going to stop here.’”

screen-shot-2013-10-30-at-5-33-28-pmFinch sought the advice of a counselor who he says posed questions he would never have thought to ask on his own. “In one of those conversations, the counselor said: ‘How can you be so bitter, resentful, and angry with a man who didn’t know how to be a dad?’”

In that moment, Finch suddenly realized he could forgive the man who had “abandoned” him.

“That power and forgiveness that God showed me for my father radically changed my life as a man, husband and father. Walking out of the office, the sky was bluer, the grass was greener.”

Bestselling Author John Eldredge on the set of “The Father Effect.”

As he began to share his story with others, Finch also came to understand that “father wounds” are an epidemic – and he began to feel that God was calling him to do something about it.

The result is a new apostolate, The Perfect Father Ministries, and a powerful 60 minute docu-drama, “The Father Effect,” which airs at 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Dec. 7; 5 a.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 9; and 5 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 10 on EWTN. Find out more at www.TheFatherEffect.com.

The first half of the film explores the different challenges fatherless boys face; it also touches on the effect that growing up fatherless has on girls, although he intends to explore this even more deeply in his next project, “The Father Effect 2.”

Viewers of both sexes will benefit from Finch’s interviews with more than 80 people from all walks of life – including prison inmates.

Viewers of both sexes will benefit from Finch’s interviews with more than 80 people from all walks of life: experts, bestselling authors, a former USC champion, an exotic dancer, prison inmates, self-made millionaires, counselors, a former South African rugby player, and a rabbi – to name a few!

In the second half of the film, Finch also tackles solutions, which he hopes will be as helpful to others as they were to him. One interview that had a huge influence on Finch – at least from a spiritual perspective – was with a former NFL quarterback and All-American.

“Before the interview, I’d say this grand prayer with my children every night and walk out of the room patting myself on the back, thinking to myself ‘That was awesome, really good!’” Finch says with a laugh. But he was “hit hard” when the athlete described his own dad as a real prayer warrior who prayed for HIM before and after the games. The athlete said, “There’s nothing like a child hearing his father pray for him out loud by name in that manly fatherly voice.”

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Finch said sometimes he can provide a practical solution to a problem, but more often than not, the problems deal with the children’s emotions about various situations that occur in their lives. “Once we start talking it through, the kids kind of understand and calm down. There’s a comfort that comes from hearing you pray for them. The next day. I’ll say, ‘How did the test go? How did the thing you’re struggling with go?’ They see I’m interested in what’s going on in their lives.”

Finch said that, to a certain extent, he even allows his children to see his own struggles when he prays with them. “It’s important to show my kids the real me. Not to pretend that everything is okay, but to be authentic and transparent to my kids. I’m not perfect, so they see they don’t have to be perfect. They see that life is not fair, but we do the best we can to stay focused on God and to put our faith and hope and trust in Him.”father-effect-poster-car-on-road

As the testimonials on Finch’s websites show, this film has been truly life-changing for many fathers and for their wives. Please share this with everyone you know and tune in. Even if you feel you’re already a pretty good dad, this just may provide you with answers to questions you didn’t even know you had!

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