September 10, 2017

Thousands attend EWTN Family Celebration in Worcester

Story and photos by Carolee McGrath

Thousands flock to the DCU Center in Worcester for the EWTN Family Celebration, Sept. 9-10.

WORCESTER, Mass. – Busloads of people from throughout New England and beyond converged upon the DCU Center in Worcester for the EWTN Family Celebration, Sept. 9-10. The network has been holding the annual event since 2005, bringing their ministry on the road, celebrating the Catholic faith with viewers from all over the country. This is the first year EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network founded by Mother Angelica, has brought the celebration to New England.

“We’re happy to finally make it to New England. It’s such a great location to bring people from throughout the New England region and beyond, so we’re excited about this weekend,” said Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN CEO and chairman. Warsaw is a Springfield native and graduate of the former Cathedral High School. He hosted a family talk with Father Joseph Mary Wolfe and EWTN president, Doug Keck. The talk gave the audience a chance to ask questions about the many challenges facing Catholic families in the current culture. He spoke with iObserve about the common issue of adult children drifting from the faith.

“This is a very painful situation for so many parents and grandparents. First of all, one thing we encourage is prayer, like St. Monica praying for her son who ultimately became St. Augustine, pray, pray, pray,” said Warsaw. “The other part of that is to continue to model a Catholic-Christian life. You can’t necessarily attract people by your words but by your example, in your deeds and your witness of a Catholic life. That speaks volumes. That’s something that attracts people and hopefully brings them back to the church.”

Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, host of “EWTN Live” poses with a fan at the EWTN family corner during the two-day conference.

The day began Saturday morning with a Mass celebrated by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Following Mass, people gathered for lunch and were able to meet many of the EWTN hosts who were present, including Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, and host of “EWTN Live.” Father Pacwa gave an afternoon talk on the significance of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, which was also the theme of the event.

“The importance of Fatima is she (the Blessed Mother) addressed a number of very specific events of the 20th century which became the most violent century in human history. Three-hundred million people died in wars or at the hands of their own government. Our Lady warned about that,” said Father Pacwa. “She also warned another war (World War II) would start in Pope Pius XI’s reign when there was no Pius XI. She was very specific,” he said.

From May to October 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her two cousins, Jacinta, 7, and Francisco Marto, 9. The Blessed Mother told the children to pray the rosary daily for peace and to offer up their suffering for the conversion of souls.

“Jesus our Lord continues to send his mother to evangelize us, which is what Catholics believe was happening at Fatima. Christ was sending his mother to evangelize,” Father Pacwa explained.

Susan Conroy, host of “Coming to Christ” speaks with a viewer before giving a talk on the Blessed Mother at the EWTN Family Celebration, Sept. 9.

Other speakers included: Donna-Marie Cooper Boyle, host of “Catholic Mom’s Café”; Marcus Grodi, host of “The Journey of Home”; Father Maurice Emelu, host of “Wounded World”; and Susan Conroy, host of “Coming to Christ.”

Conroy also focused on the Fatima apparitions in her talk.

“I am eager on behalf of Our Lady and on behalf of the little children of Fatima to urge everyone to do what she is telling us,” she said, referring to praying the rosary and offering up suffering for the conversion on souls.

“I want to empower everyone to realize that so much depends on our responsiveness to our heavenly mother. Everyone counts. Even a six-year-old child in the audience, if they start praying the rosary they can help change the world. The can help the Blessed Mother save souls,” she continued.

Many Catholics from the Diocese of Springfield traveled to Worcester for the two-day event. Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Westfield chartered a bus on Saturday. Others drove out on their own, including Kathy Dziok, whose son Joe Dziok, began working for EWTN last fall. Joe Dziok was active in youth and pro-life ministry both in his parish, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Basilica in Chicopee, and throughout the diocese.

“EWTN has always made an impact. We always watched the shows growing up, even when our kids were little,” said Kathy Dziok, who attended the conference with her husband, Ray.

“It’s really been a help in growing our faith and learning more about our faith and the things that are important to us,” she said.

Throughout the weekend there was an opportunity for people to go to confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There was also an area for children who were able to visit EWTN’s Faith Factory with Brother Leo and Rob Evans, also known as the Donut Man.

Watch for a video version of this story on an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly TV news magazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22News.