by Marc and Julie Anderson
EMPORIA — Tradition holds that almost every one of the Twelve Apostles was martyred, and in the first few centuries after Christ, being a Christian often meant imprisonment and martyrdom.
Yet, many went to their death refusing to recant their belief in Christ or his resurrection.
“How do you explain that? How do you account for the fact that in those early years, countless men and women were willing to die rather than say Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?”
That was just one of the questions Patrick Madrid, a Catholic author, speaker and host of “The Patrick Madrid Show” heard weekdays on Relevant Radio, posed to the 250 who gathered on Aug. 28 at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Emporia for a one-day conference entitled: “A Day with Patrick Madrid — Why Be Catholic?”
The event was sponsored by St. Joseph Parish in nearby Olpe and consisted of three main talks, each with a specific theme, as well as a Q&A forum. Throughout the afternoon, conference participants also had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
Michelle Barnhart, a parishioner at St. Joseph Parish, was among those in attendance and was pleased with the turnout.
“It touches my heart that so many people within my community are passionate enough about their Catholic faith or seeking answers and are still interested in coming to an event like this because we take time for so many other things,” she said. “At a time when media and society reject what we believe, it’s really nice to be among believers.”
Throughout the day, Madrid shared stories from his 35-year career as a Catholic apologist — that is, someone who explains, teaches and defends the Catholic faith. His talks centered on historical and scriptural documentation that supports Christ’s existence and resurrection. He also discussed the Bible as a Catholic book and presented historical evidence in support of the Catholic Church’s claim that it is the one true church founded by Jesus Christ.
As someone who has spent his life “trying to help people see the Catholic faith more clearly, trying to clear up misconceptions,” Madrid said his goal was that “by the end of the day, hopefully you’ll not only have more information but also maybe a little bit more technique because technique is really important. You can tell someone the truth, but how you tell them makes all the difference.”
In the end, Rod Symmonds, a member of St. Catherine Parish in Emporia, said he thought Madrid’s common sense and conversational approach, coupled with kindness and charity, were easily imitated in the context of one’s daily life.
“He does a marvelous job making it conversational,” said Symmonds. “You can see yourself actually being able to engage in a conversation without presenting it in terms of an intellectual argument.”
That approach, Symmonds said, is one he hopes will facilitate better conversations with his family, friends and others he encounters. He said he was struck by a particular comment about understanding the misconceptions and misperceptions others might have about the Catholic faith.
“I thought about his comment that you first have to know how to be able to respond oftentimes to a person’s arguments or concerns before you can touch them in a caring and relational manner. I thought that was a really important part,” Symmonds said.
Barnhart agreed and said she found the whole day “reaffirming of her Catholic faith.”
“I’m grateful there are people like Patrick who have been called to this ministry, and I admire people like that so much,” she said. “I draw courage from what he has shared.”