The Denver-based organization was founded in 2004 and provides free access to Catholic news for everyone, and the Southern Nebraska Register utilizes this service.
CNA is rooted in its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which provides Catholic news to Spanish and Portuguese speakers. ACI Prensa was founded in 1980 in Lima, Peru by Father Adalbert Marie Mohm, who wanted to increase the visibility of the Church by providing a constant flow of Catholic news.
It may be surprising to learn that this organization and EWTN employs a large number of Nebraskans who have all been given a chance to represent “The Good Life” at one of the most influential Catholic media companies in the world.
Mary Rezac grew up on a farm near Valparaiso and went to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, where she majored in secondary English and journalism education. During her time at UNL, Rezac was heavily involved in the Newman Center, volunteering her time and serving in different leadership positions.
Rezac was introduced to CNA when her close friend Kate Veik completed an internship with the organization. Rezac then completed the same internship the summer before her senior year and was hired after she graduated in May 2014.
Now, Rezac writes feature and hard news stories, and also helps out with CNA’s social media accounts. She said she enjoys immersing herself in the stories she writes and the vibrant Catholic community that Denver has, a community that she attributes to Pope Saint John Paul II’s visit during World Youth Day in 1993.
In fact, John Paul II was a big inspiration in Rezac’s decision to go into Catholic media in the first place.
“He talked about the need to use media well in the New Evangelization, and he is the patron saint of CNA,” she said.
During her time at the organization, Rezac said her favorite opportunities have been the chance to attend the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother in Oklahoma City last September, and Blessed Solanus Casey in Detroit in November.
Rezac said, “I felt like I could relate a lot to [Father Rother’s] story and background and I learned things that I wouldn’t necessarily have known about if I hadn’t had this job. When you’re on these assignments, you really have to immerse yourself in their stories.”
Kate Veik was born and raised in the Millard area outside of Omaha, and attended Catholic grade school and high school before enrolling at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln to study journalism.
Veik said she knew she wanted to have another internship before she took her first job after college, and when her friend shared a CNA article on Facebook, she applied for a position with the organization. Although, she did admit that she was interested because the company is based out of Colorado, where her family had spent much of their time vacationing.
Upon completion of her internship in 2011, Veik was hired in June 2012. She originally worked in radio production and now spends her time almost exclusively on video production. She will have worked at the company six years this June.
One of Veik’s most memorable experiences working with CNA was her coverage of the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., during her internship.
Although she hadn’t wanted to cover the Aurora story after having made plans to go home that weekend, Veik was able to talk to the friends of one of the victims for her article, and realized that CNA was giving her the opportunity to combine her faith with her career. This assignment helped to affirm the fact that God had a plan for her career.
In 2016, Veik got to cover World Youth Day in Poland. She said she enjoyed getting to share the liveliness and universality of the Church with people who weren’t able to attend.
“At UNL we were told ‘you’re probably not going to find a job you like until you’re middle-aged,’ but that hasn’t been the case for me,” Veik said. “I feel like I skipped a step!”
While not a native Nebraskan, JD Flynn has lived in Nebraska and worked for the Diocese of Lincoln for almost six years. Flynn previously worked with Bishop Conley in the Archdiocese of Denver and moved to Lincoln at the Bishop’s invitation shortly after he was installed in the Lincoln Diocese.
In Lincoln, Flynn worked as a special assistant to Bishop Conley, as the communications director for the Diocese and as a canon lawyer, offering advice on matters related to canon law.
“I have loved working for the diocese, and I love living here,” Flynn said.
In August last year, Flynn was made the new editor-in-chief of the Catholic News Agency and has spent his time working remotely from Lincoln and traveling to Colorado once a month.
In his time with CNA, Flynn said he has enjoyed getting to work with the staff and partners at EWTN and appreciates how dedicated they are to their mission. He also said that there is a running joke in the office that all of the employees from Nebraska try to sell others on how great Nebraska is.
“Journalism is about getting a fair and truthful account of something and Nebraskans are all about fairness and telling the truth,” Flynn said. “Nebraska has a culture of integrity, and it’s a good culture for journalism.”
Flynn will return to Colorado this year, but he is waiting until the end of the school year before he moves his family. His children have been able to enjoy the benefits of St. Joseph School’s Inclusive Catholic Education program.
He said, “We have been very grateful for the leadership of Msgr. Liam Barr and are grateful to the entire parish for taking on this new project.”
Alan Holdren grew up in Friend, and graduated from UNL with a degree in business administration in 2003. Like Veik and Rezac, he was involved in the Newman Center during his time in college and knows its pastor, Father Robert Matya, well. His brother, Father Benjamin Holdren, also served as assistant pastor of the Newman Center for many years.
Following his time at UNL, Alan Holdren taught English for three years in Albacete, Spain where he also met his wife, who is from Italy. As the couple was trying to find jobs for one of them to work in the other’s country, Holdren was told about a position at CNA by Nebraska native Michaela Policky (now Fay), whom he met on a TEC retreat.
In November 2009, Holdren began his position as a full-time news correspondent in Rome. After eight years there, Holdren now works for EWTN as their Rome Bureau Chief.
Holdren said, “My job is made simple by the great staff we have here.”
Holdren said that it has been remarkable to be part of significant world events, as he was in Rome when Pope Benedict XVI resigned and was in Saint Peter’s Square shortly after Pope Francis emerged on the balcony for the first time and asked for prayers.
“It’s a humbling experience to be part of major world events and work so that people can live them through you,” he said.
Holdren has traveled with the Holy Father on 10 or 11 papal trips, and was with him in Bethlehem in May one year to celebrate a Mass in Arabic.
He said, “You see how much it means to people to have Pope Francis in their midst.”
Hannah Brockhaus was born and grew up in Omaha before attending Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., where she majored in English.
Brockhaus heard about an internship at CNA from family friends connected with the news organization, and was inspired to apply. Brockhaus took the internship between her sophomore and junior year of college.
Upon her graduation from college, Brockhaus lived in St. Louis for a year and was still inspired to work in Catholic media. Nine months after her graduation, Brockhaus accepted a job as a Rome correspondent for CNA and moved there in August 2016.
Today, her primary responsibility is following the activities of the pope and reporting what is going on in the Vatican. Some days, Brockhaus writes feature stories about Rome, different stories about the Church and diplomatic events related to the Holy See.
“Some days we’re sitting in the office working on stories, and other days we’re going around Rome doing interviews,” Brockhaus said.
One of her most memorable experiences in Rome was getting to meet Pope Francis.
“The meeting was short but really meaningful,” Brockhaus said. “I sometimes jokingly refer to him as ‘the boss’ since we spend our days following just about his every move.”
Brockhaus has enjoyed getting to speak with many influential people and share their stories with others, and even though she lives across the world now, she had fond things to say about the state she calls home.
“I loved growing up in Nebraska,” Brockhaus said. “It was a great place to have grown up and come from.”