by Susan Fotovich McCabe
Special to The Leaven
Whether you were raised Catholic or converted as an adult, there’s always one nagging question that shapes the experience: Why choose Catholicism?
Nationally recognized author, speaker and radio host Patrick Madrid tackles the question head on with his book, “Why Be Catholic? Ten Answers to a Very Important Question.” The author will answer the question and give people an opportunity to ask more during an in-person event of the same name on Aug. 28, sponsored by St. Joseph Parish, Olpe.
“Catholics are afraid to explain why they are Catholic because they don’t know enough,” said St. Joseph parishioner Brian Schmidt. He, his wife Kay Mason-Schmidt and their parish Enflame committee are organizing the event, which is driven in part by their own personal faith journeys.
Brian, who was raised Catholic, describes himself as “that guy who was approached by sidewalk people” in college and asked if he had been saved. He admits he didn’t know how to respond but never forgot the question. Over time, he did more research, attended Bible studies and even traveled to Rome and the Holy Land. Listening to Madrid helped answer many of his questions, he said.
According to Madrid’s website, he, too, was raised Catholic and he plumbs that experience for a portion of the book’s content. Madrid also explores the church’s 2,000-year-old history, notable and controversial teachings, misconceptions about the holy Eucharist, his own miracle encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the history of the papacy. Madrid infuses his treatment of why some people leave the Catholic Church and others stay with grace and humor.
Sadly, Brian said, many people have fallen away from church, particularly during the pandemic. Sometimes, he said, when people experience a loss or “something goes wrong” and it feels like God isn’t listening, it’s easier to leave.
Others, like Kay, have never actually left the church, but at some point felt a real desire to learn more about their faith.
“During Easter one year, I was sitting in the pew and said to myself, ‘There has to be more than what I’m feeling. I should be more on fire and excited about my faith.’ I prayed to the Holy Spirit,” Kay said.
Following a trip to Rome and the Holy Land, Kay said she is now “on fire” as a Catholic. The trip completely changed her outlook and she now thinks differently about her faith.
“I’m not saying I’m the best, but I now pray more, read more, go to [eucharistic] adoration more and bring God’s word to others more,” Kay said. “We’re not supposed to be private about our faith once we’ve been touched by the Holy Spirit. We’re supposed to share it.”
Sharing it is what Brian, Kay and the Enflame committee hope to do by bringing Madrid to Emporia. Brian said the event is for those who are Catholic and want to be able to defend and explain their faith to others. But it is also for those who may have been raised Catholic but weren’t ready to hear more about the faith when they were younger. It is open to those who are not Catholic as well and just want to learn more.
The event will be held in the Anderson Building at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Emporia. Check-in and a continental breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. The conference sessions are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A catered lunch is available, and event organizers are encouraging a freewill donation. Conference tickets are $10 per person online here. For more information, call (620) 475-3767.