Innovative Catholic evangelist Father Barron among keynote speakers at faith conference
By Julie Filby
Described as “one of the Catholic Church’s best messengers,” Father Robert Barron hopes to light attendees on fire with the word of God at the Living the Catholic Faith Conference set for March 11-12.
Living the Catholic Faith Conference
Theme: “Go and bear fruit”
Father Barron reaches people all over the world using contemporary forms of media including a website, podcasts, TV, radio, DVDs and YouTube videos. Through his ministry Word On Fire (www.WordOnFire.org), he attracts more than 300,000 visitors to the website each year; tens of thousands listen to his podcast homilies each month; and his YouTube commentaries on books, movies, music, and other cultural happenings are closing in on 1.5 million views.
“Fulton Sheen would’ve given his right arm for this kind of outreach,” he quipped. “To be able to put things out there that people can access whenever they want—on the Internet where it’s ‘24-7’ all over the world—that’s something he would’ve died for."
“I love the fact that we have this communication technology,” he said. “Something I really like about that ministry is that it gets you completely outside the Church; you’re totally outside of the Catholic world. I can tell that from the comments, people comment like mad on these things.”
Though many of the comments are negative, Father Barron welcomes them.
“Often they’re from people who don’t like religion … hate priests or whatever, but I rather like that because it means I’m getting out to a wider audience, and then I can engage them,” said Father Barron, who has seen this type of engagement lead to conversion.
“We’ve got tons of wonderful stories about people who hated the Church before stumbling onto one my videos,” he said. “To me, one of the most exciting parts of the ministry has been the Internet outreach.”
In his keynote presentation on Saturday “The five-act drama of salvation” Father Barron will lay out the pieces of God’s theo-drama: creation, the fall, formation of Israel, coming of the Messiah, and the Church. He hopes this will help Catholics “get better” at telling the wider world what Christianity is about.
“My hope is to get the audience excited because it’s a very exciting story—and it’s one that we’re all part of,” he explained. “We’re in act five (the Church), and if you’re in act five of (Shakespeare’s) Macbeth, you better know what went on in the first four acts or you won’t know what to do.”
Additional keynote speakers at this year’s conference include New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops, speaking on the Eucharist; Sister Kathleen Harmon, S.N.D.deN., expert on liturgy and liturgical music, sharing participation in Mass; and Scott Hahn, Ph.D., professor of theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, unveiling the liturgy in Revelation.
Nearly 30 workshops will be offered covering topics related to marriage, parenting, prayer life, single life, communication, getting more out of the Mass, the new Roman Missal, and moral relativism. Presenters include Alveda King, Thomas Smith, Bob Rice, Mary Beth Bonacci, E. Christian Brugger, Jeanette DeMelo, Mercy Gutierrez, Father Chris Hellstrom, Father Andreas Hoeck, Sister Esther Mary Nickel, R.S.M., Chris Stefanick and musician Sal Solo.
The conference themed “Go and Bear Fruit” (Jn 15:16) will include Masses celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., and Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley, opportunities for adoration and confession, and exhibits from some 80 Catholic organizations and vendors. Saturday’s line-up will also include presentations in Spanish. Information and registration is available at www.lcfcdenver.org.