Pioneer EWTN Summer Academy: Participants Urged to Brave Challenging Times

Participants in the EWTN Summer Academy pose for a photo after a tour of the St. Peter's basilica in Rome. Credit: EWTN

Catholic journalism is facing turbulent times in the era of propaganda and “planted lies”, participants in the Summer Academy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Rome, Italy, have been told and encouraged to brave the challenging times as they cover Church events, defending the Truth.

Fr. Roger Landry, one of the speakers at the 10-day training that EWTN’s Vatican Bureau organized reminded the Catholic journalists and communicators in attendance that their integrity and faith is needed now, “more than ever”, at a time when people are easily swayed to believe lies.

“It is a challenging time to be a Catholic journalist because a lot of people don’t want the truth. At a time in which people need to know the truth in order to be set free, journalists have a vocation of bringing them that truth,” Fr. Landry said.

A section of the organizers of the EWTN Summer Academy in Rome from left to right. Credit: EWTN

He added that a Catholic journalist’s work today is “a very important mission” that cannot be taken for granted.


Speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the academy that ended on Friday, July 14, Fr. Landry decried the era of “so much propaganda”, and “so many planted lies that come from governments.”

According to the member of the Clergy of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts in the U.S., it is only journalists and communicators who like challenges that are likely to thrive in the current media space.

Credit: EWTN

The Priest who serves as Catholic chaplain at Columbia University encouraged Catholic communicators and journalists to stick to seeking the truth, saying, “Be of good cheer, have courage, be who your vocation asks you to be. It will eventually change our culture.” 

40 Catholic communicators and journalists from 20 countries all over the world participated in the pioneer EWTN Summer Academy launched to form professionals who are solidly grounded in their Catholic faith.

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In a July 13 interview with ACI Africa, Alexey Gotovskiy, the EWTN Vatican Project Manager said that the Summer Academy, the first of its kind, was also organized to allow young Catholic journalists and communicators to have a feel of Rome.

A section of participants at the EWTN Summer Academy showcase their certificates awarded at the end of the academy. Credit: EWTN

“We wanted our young colleagues working in different parts of the world to share in our experiences as journalists in Rome. We wanted to share our passion,” said Alexey, who, together with a team of other EWTN staff, planned the Summer Academy.

He said that the program, which was piloted last year attracted more than 70 applicants, all of them “very strong candidates”. 

“We had very strong candidates and this made selection a difficult task for us. We had to pick from the best. (We) wanted to ensure that participants are coming from different parts of the world, because our Church is universal,” Alexey said.


Credit: EWTN

Topics for the academy were selected with the goal to enrich those to participate in the sessions with a bit of philosophy and theology.

Participants were introduced to the basics of video editing, as well as the idea of ‘Digital First’ that requires media houses to prioritize digital spaces in breaking news. 

Other topics included Theology and Communication, Apologetics, The Age of the Influencer, Artificial Intelligence, and Catholic Journalism.

The participants were also invited to learn from Jesus Christ, who Fr. Landry described as “a master storyteller”, “the message in flesh”, and one having come to the world in order to communicate Truth.

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He invited Catholic journalists and communicators to learn from Jesus Christ who told the truth even when it would not be well-received or would lead to his condemnation.

Credit: EWTN

“Jesus avoided every temptation to win arguments at the expense of the truth,” Fr. Landry said, and added, “He summoned people to honesty. When covering people, we need to hold them to account of honesty.”

A total of 19 speakers including top EWTN officials presented various topics at the Summer Academy in which participants were awarded certificates.

Expressing her elation at participating in the EWTN Summer Academy, Romy El Haber, who writes for the newly launched Association for Catholic Information in the Middle East and North Africa (ACI Mena) said, “My best experience here has been meeting like-minded young Catholics who are determined to fight for the Church.” 

“We have learnt to counter the fallacies around the Church, all the misinformation being shared out there about the Catholic Church. I’m just at the beginning of my career where I want to spend some time defending my faith and my Church, and our values and doctrines,” the native of Lebanon told ACI Africa. 

As for Valerie Joy Escalona, the Church is in a crisis and it is upon faith communicators to stand by the truth and to defend what is right. She said, “Mother Angelica reminds us that our Church is wounded but that we can heal her with our love.”

“I think as communicators, we have a responsibility to use the gifts that God has given us to heal our Church; to communicate the truth and to remedy the crisis that the Church is facing,” said the native of the Philippines who works in Catholic communications.

EWTN Digital Media Manager, Buchi Akpati, said she found the sessions on “Jesus as a communicator” timely.

Participants in the EWTN Summer Academy pose for a photo after a tour of the Vatican observatory. Credit: EWTN

The presentation, the native of Nigeria recalled, featured excerpts from the Bible that show Jesus as a role model to a 21st century digital communicator. 

“Our Lord represented truth itself. He also met people where they were at and drew them in through paradoxical statements, antithesis, parable and real-life images to bring people from where they were to the truth,” Buchi said.

She appreciated organizers of the Summer Academy, saying, “My hope is that EWTN continues to hold this initiative annually, and if possible, more frequently because it has born more fruit in our soul, and in the work that we do for others.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.