Pope Francis Appoints EWTN’s Colin Donovan to Marian Pontifical Academy

Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham, Alabama, presented EWTN's vice president of theology, Colin Donovan, with the Pontifical International Marian Academy's Letter of Appointment and Diploma during a Mass on Aug, 9. | EWTN

Pope Francis appointed Colin Donovan, vice president of theology at EWTN Global Catholic Network, to the Pontifical International Marian Academy, which is tasked with promoting theological understanding and devotion to the Mother of God, the network announced Wednesday. 

Donovan was presented with the Marian Academy’s Letter of Appointment and Diploma by Birmingham Bishop Steven J. Raica during an Aug. 9 televised Mass.

The appointment honors Donovan for his contributions to the field of Mariology and his commitment to spreading devotion to Mary. 

In an interview with CNA on Thursday, Donovan called his appointment “a great privilege,” adding that it wasn’t something he was expecting, but a task that he is excited to take on.

EWTN is the parent company of Catholic News Agency.


Donovan said that the academy promotes “Mariological science,” the division of theology that studies Mary. The academy, founded in 1946, organizes International Marian Congresses and publishes a journal of their work called Marianum.

“The academy is there at the service of the Church and specifically at the service of the Roman Pontiff so that he can throw questions to them if he wants,” Donovan said. 

Donovan is approaching his 27th year working at EWTN, where he serves as a theologian and on-air commentator, often answering questions about Mariology.

Part of Donovan’s role at EWTN requires him to review materials for broadcast or print, as well as answer questions on the radio during the show Open Line, which he has hosted for almost 20 years.

Donovan said that his appointment is an opportunity for him to continue his research and study of Mariology, which makes it “quite exciting,” apart from “the great honor that is represented simply by being appointed to it.”

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Donovan told CNA he has always had a devotion to Mary, a relationship that began when he was a child with the recitation of the Rosary and Marian formation in Canada from his school teachers, the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion.

His first encounter with in-depth theological study began his freshman year of college while studying biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, when someone asked him his thoughts on Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter on birth control.

He went to read the encyclical to form an opinion and said that “the clarity of what the pope wrote about in the natural order of marriage and family just struck me immediately.”

Donovan, a Navy veteran, went on to study theology and philosophy at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. He then earned a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

In the early 1990s, before joining EWTN, he was a professor at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee.


In 2017, Donovan was invited to speak at the Pontifical Marian Academy’s conference in Ireland, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. He also participated in the academy’s 2021 conference which was held on Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Joseph Bukuras is a staff writer at the Catholic News Agency. Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Catholic University of America. He has interned in the U.S. House of Representatives, on a U.S. Senate campaign, in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives, and at the Susan B. Anthony List. He is based out of the Boston area