UST’s MAX Studios Partners with Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute to Bring the Light of the Gospel to the Digital Age.
Harnessing the expertise of major Catholic influencers on social media, the University of St. Thomas MAX Studios, in partnership with the Word on Fire Institute, has launched an innovative video series called “The New Evangelization and New Media.” This digital evangelization series, produced at UST is being promoted through Word on Fire bringing new awareness of UST’s mission to a nationwide audience of Catholics. After just one week, the first installment had been watched almost 20,000 times.
Each episode is hosted by UST’s Bridget Richardson, MAFC ’17 and Darnell Miller ’10, MLA ’15, and spotlights today’s most exciting and compelling Catholic influencers sharing their experiences with technology and media in reaching their specific audience. They reveal their successes and failures, get real about the challenges they face on a particular platform — think Instagram, Twitch, TikTok — and explain why it is imperative that Catholics see the value of engaging authentically in a digital space.
First-round presenters for the digital evangelization series by UST included Australian singer-songwriter Fr. Rob Galea (73,000 YouTube followers), gamer Jonathan Blevins (44,300 Twitch followers), Waco’s mom-blogger and Word on Fire Fellow Haley Stewart (17,300 Instagram followers), and “America’s Next Top Model Season 3” contestant Leah Darrow (79,000 Facebook followers).
Watch and enjoy! Episodes are available for free streaming online at ustmaxstudios.com.
Leah Darrow is a Catholic speaker, author, entrepreneur and mother of six dedicated to inspiring others to become who God made them be. She was an “America’s Next Top Model Season 3” contestant and a former professional model who experienced a life-changing conversion back to the Catholic faith. With 79,000 followers on Facebook, she has built a community from the idea of simply sharing about faith and culture. She is the founder of the Lux app, the first app for Catholic women that focuses on community, prayer and formation. In addition, Darrow is scheduled to be UST’s 2023 commencement speaker!
Fr. Rob Galea
Fr. Rob Galea is an ordained Catholic priest and is currently serving in Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria, after moving to Australia from Malta, his home country. He is a singer and songwriter with an international fan base, has written songs for World Youth Day 2016 and 2019, and has performed for Pope Francis. Apart from a series of recordings and CD releases, Fr. Rob has 73,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he features many of his songs and homilies. He was a contestant in Australia’s “2015 The X Factor” and is the founder and serving director of the FRG Ministry.
Haley Stewart is a Catholic convert, a mom of four and a distiller’s wife. She’s an author, podcaster, speaker and managing editor of Word on Fire Spark, their new publishing line for children and young readers. A former homeschool mom and homesteader, Haley has shared her story widely and accumulated 17,300 followers on Instagram who enjoy her wit, humor and discussion on the Catholic faith.
“An aspect of the Second Vatican Council’s call to evangelization is thinking through new methods and approaches to how we bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. This production will be of great service to that mission.”
Jared Zimmerer, Senior Director
Word on Fire Institute
“The early Christians walked the roads built by the Roman Empire to evangelize for Christ. In the same way, we must now use these digital paths to bring the light of the gospel to the digital world.”
Dr. Richard Ludwick
Jonathan “Bearded Blevins” is a Catholic husband and father of three. He began live-streaming his favorite video game, Fortnite, in 2018. He is the founder of the Bearded Blevins Stream Team, which is designed to take his Twitch channel full time with the mission to build a positive community. Blevins is also the founder and CEO of Little Flower Media Company. He was connected to UST through our own Board Director, Fr. Tom Rafferty! He is in the top one percent of streamers with 44,300 followers on Twitch.