Father Josh was presented with a unique opportunity last week to appear on the EWTN weekly series, Life on the Rock, to discuss his work in the New Evangelization through Lolek Productions. They wanted to hear about how he was inspired by Pope Saint John Paul II to create his own nonprofit video production company and what he hoped to achieve with it.
We traveled down to Irondale, Alabama on Wednesday afternoon and evening, Oct. 18, to the EWTN campus and were welcomed with great kindness and care and shown our houses where we stayed during our time there. My house was next door to Father Josh’s, both with very nice accommodations, all that we would need. The next morning we went over to breakfast in the St. Clair dining room. Rose, a very sweet lady who cooked our breakfast, greeted Father Josh by name and tried to pronounce mine. I gave her a little help, but was so impressed that she already knew who we were. We were already feeling like special guests.
Father Mitch Pacwa was eating his breakfast at the next table, with some real princesses, we think, that we heard were visiting. I believe they were from Germany. It was delightful to hear their foreign accents and be in the midst of famous company, though we sat at our own table. There was also a young married couple who were Youth Ministers that were there to tape a show as well, with Jim and Joy Pinto. And then there’s me, soaking it all in, accompanying Father Josh and feeling so very blessed to be there for this great experience.
After breakfast and the shaking of more hands and good conversation with a staff theologian, Noah Lett, we went outside and walked around the campus. I marveled at it all thinking of Mother Angelica and how she started this abounding television ministry with nothing but her faith in God and the generosity of donors who believed in her vision and calling. The giant satellites in the back reach all over the world to spread the Word of God.
As we walked we saw Father Mark Mary, a Franciscan Friar of the Eternal Word, who works with the Life on the Rock show. He stopped his mobile phone conversation and came up to welcome us. As I reached to shake his hand and tell him that it was nice to meet him, he commented on and inquired about my accent. I gave it away quickly I guess, not knowing that my Kentucky accent would be so strong. He noticed my accent and I noticed his friendliness. It didn’t take long to feel the southern hospitality shining through everyone we met.
We had made an appointment to visit with Casey Renda, our original contact person at EWTN. She heard we were going to be there and wanted to see us. When we went into her office we were again greeted with kindness and enthusiasm. It turned out to be an hour long meeting with the Acquisitions Dept. who wanted to know all about our work, what we were currently working on and what projects we had planned for the future. We received a lot of input and it was a very productive meeting. They were happy to see us and look forward to seeing future projects we might send their way.
Then it was on to lunch with one of Father Josh’s Ave Maria University friends, Laura Dittus, who works in the Theology office. She appears on some of the Theology Roundtable programs. She invited a couple of coworkers to join us too at a local Greek restaurant for lunch. As we ate our meal together the conversation was enlightening and I took in the value of all their jobs as they share with people all over the world their knowledge of our beautiful Catholic faith while working to bring the truth through their programming at EWTN. Father Josh even got some pointers on how to make his interview all that it could be on Life on the Rock. With the tips coming from experienced show guests, he took in all of the suggestions.
We were now getting closer to the taping of the show so we got ourselves ready to go over to the studio. I wasn’t sure where I would be able to observe, but we went in see how it would all go, somewhat nervously. With each step along the way, we prayed together beforehand a prayer that we recite every time we get together to work in the Lolek office, a prayer asking God to help us with our work through the intercession of Saint John Paul II. The Life on the Rock crew welcomed us excitedly. We stopped by the control room where they were at work previewing all of the aspects and particulars of what would go into this show. It was incredible to see all of the screens opened up to different areas of the set and to note the different camera angles and other EWTN programs being played on different screens. I had never seen anything like it, many monitors and buttons and controls to be manned.
We were then guided into the studio and we could see the set all ready for the interview process. A makeup man took Father Josh to powder his face and I was taken back to the control room where I could sit and watch the taping on the monitor boards. It was fascinating to be in there with the director and producer of the show hearing and seeing first hand how a production is made. Before they started filming I was asked to tell them briefly about the video that we wanted to submit for the intro to the show. I was a little nervous with all of the professionals waiting for me to talk, but I told them about our video, “No Greater Love” and then everyone went to their places to start the taping. I sat with my notepad to take down notes on anything that was talked about or missed and watched with pure excitement, joy and thanksgiving for the opportunity that we had been given. I was so proud of how Father Josh presented himself and Lolek Productions, so confident, so natural and professional. It was a chance for him to let the world know about how he has used his gifts and talents to serve God and the Church with beautiful short film productions made with the help of real life witnesses of faith. We have truly been blessed to be a voice in the New Evangelization.
The taping went very well and when it was over I believe everyone was pleased with how it went. We thanked everyone and were grateful for the contacts we made, for the people that we met and for the whole wonderful experience of being there. Afterward, we went out to a Mexican dinner with Father Josh’s friend Laura. She told us more about her work at EWTN and her family. It was a pleasant evening. I sat back and was touched by how God called these two Ave Maria graduates to work for Him in His vineyard. And I was yet to meet another the following day as we made our way to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, the home of Mother Angelica.
Father Josh has another classmate, Micah Wright, who manages the Retreat House at the shrine. We visited there the next morning on our way back home. Micah, a very friendly man, was excited to see Father Josh again and equally as excited to show us the retreat house where he lives and works. He gave us a grand tour of the very nice accommodations and extraordinarily beautiful chapel that awaits any priest, deacon, brother or seminarian that wants to schedule a retreat there. What a treasure to be able to stay on such holy ground there at that pilgrimage destination. It is all a gift from the Poor Clare sisters who want to provide the clergy with a quiet, solemn place to retreat to. I found myself thankful for his work of which he called a “dream job.” God has His ways of drawing people to be in the places that He wants them and I believe that everyone I met on this trip was where they could serve God well.
On the drive back and in the days that have passed since, we have been so grateful for everyone who have supported Lolek Productions and we look forward to continuing our work in bringing good, Catholic media to the world, all to honor and glorify God, the giver of all gifts.
We welcome any prayers and donations that anyone would be inspired to give to further the work of Lolek Productions. We are most appreciative of all who support our work. We want to thank you all for all that you have given us these past years and we look forward to the years and projects ahead.
Visit lolekproductions.com to view our video productions and have access to donate online or watch our videos on our YouTube channel.
Don’t forget to watch the “Life on the Rock show tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 29th at 8:00 P.M. central time. You can also watch it live online at ewtn.com.
Counting our blessings,