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Apologist teaches Catholics ways to discuss, defend their faith

Patrick Madrid, a Catholic author and radio personality, spoke to 250 people on Aug. 28 at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Emporia for a conference entitled: “A Day with Patrick Madrid — Why Be Catholic?” LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

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?”

Patrick Madrid drew in a crowd of 250 in Emporia on Aug. 28. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KENNY RODRIGUEZ

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.

Mitch Gerving waits for Patrick Madrid to sign a copy of his book “Why Be Catholic?” LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

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.”

Patrick Madrid signs a copy of his book after his talk in Emporia. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KENNY RODRIGUEZ

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.”

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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