Hostility to the Gospel message has been with us since Our Lord walked the earth, but we don't have far to look to find the most potent societal innovation of the past century to mould minds and hearts on a massive scale - the secular media, and television in particular. Its potential for good is as great as its potential for evil. Since Vatican II we have been repeatedly exhorted by our Popes to use this medium for evangelisation.
In 1981 a religious sister in a contemplative order, with a bank balance of only $200, but an unshakable trust in Divine Providence, took up the challenge and founded the Eternal Word Television Network. In her own words, Mother Angelica dared ‘to do the ridiculous, in order that God may do the miraculous’.
Miraculous is a fitting word to describe the growth of EWTN, which has become the world's largest religious network, bringing the Eternal Word to millions of homes around the globe, totally free-to-air, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Totally funded by voluntary donations, international non- encrypted transmission is beamed from seven satellites. The fruit of this wonderful apostolate has been clear - millions of souls brought closer to God.
EWTN is anathema to all who would seek to conform the Church to the secular world, whereas our divinely enjoined mission is to transform the secular culture to an awareness and love of God.
Hitherto the only means of receiving an EWTN transmission signal in Australia has been through a very large, costly and cumbersome satellite dish. Few have been able to avail themselves of this, although dedicated Aussies have worked to evangelise by means of limited air time on Community TV in Brisbane and Perth. Others have distributed tapes and made them available in free video lending libraries, or have promoted access to EWTN through the web site www.ewtn.com.
In June this year a breakthrough was achieved with EWTN signing a multi-year contract with Globecast North America for carriage on the Optus B3 satellite, which may be accessed throughout Australia and New Zealand by means of a small rooftop dish, the installation cost of which ranges from around $400, with nothing more to pay. There is no more important investment that anyone could make for the temporal and eternal welfare of one's family.
It is heartwarming to see young people on fire to share the faith. Viewing EWTN provides ample evidence of this in America. Vocations of the ‘John Paul II generation’ are flourishing. Here is an opportunity to achieve the same in Australia with the spread the Eternal Word. There is reason to believe that, if only EWTN were brought into every Catholic home, the drift from the faith could be halted.
EWTN is becoming increasingly international in character, and welcomes input of Australian content, on condition it is faithful to the Holy Father and to the Magisterium of the Church. The only obstacle to this goal is a lack of Australians willing to take up the challenge.
Here is a potential to bring the scourges of our culture under control - abortion, euthanasia, pornography, moral relativism, same sex unions, and a political correctness that excludes any reference to God - to name a few. Yet many Australians have never even heard of EWTN, and the majority of those who have are disinterested.
There is something for every interest and age group, e.g., Scripture studies, talk shows, humour, news and current affairs, travel documentaries, social problem forum discussion, art, literature, music, challenging shows for young adults, children's programs, and much more.
There is a potential to reach millions of souls throughout Australia and New Zealand.
If you would like more information about EWTN in Australia, or if you wish to help spread the word in any way, however small, please contact The Rosary Christian Tutorial Association, PO Box 1270, Booragoon WA 6954, or phone (08) 9330 2467. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.bonamedia.iinet.net.au/ewtn.html
EWTN's evangelising pioneer
It is said, a journey begins with a single step; what is not always said, is how many steps that journey will take.
Eighteen months ago, Ernesta Sculli, an Italian Australian, started out on such a journey with an overwhelming desire to promote EWTN in Australia and to put it within the financial reach of everyone.
Despite years of poor health, she put everything on hold in her personal life and set about this huge task already attempted by others before her without success. With the full support of her husband and her family, and much prayer, she has persevered. There were many falls along the way, but Ernesta persisted.
With the eventual help of 1500 ‘dedicated to Ernesta Sculli’ supporters, Australians can now access affordable EWTN Catholic television. Among her supporters are Cardinal George Pell, Archbishops Barry Hickey and Denis Hart, Bishop Julian Porteous, numerous priests, the Maronites, Melkites, many periodicals, and of course EWTN itself which provided the costly satellite link.
Along the way Ernesta Sculli has endured emotional hardship, assorted setbacks, and heavy financial losses. In her words, ‘I do it for God and Mother Mary.’ She is a true evangelist for the Catholic faith.