Ever heard Latin, Yiddish, English and Spanish together in the same presentation?
Ever heard that combo from a Catholic priest?
This weekend, I attended a conference called, “The New Evangelization: Led by the Spirit, Fed by the Eucharist,” at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The entire, two-day event was presented by a single preacher who held everyone’s attention: Father Bruce Nieli, C.S.P., a New York native who grew up with an anti-Catholic/evangelically-leaning mother, nominally Catholic father, Sicilian grandmother, and very Jewish friends. He preaches like a Baptist preacher, and talks and jokes like Larry David.
This guy was a blast.
Yet, he made everyone uncomfortable at some point – pushing all the buttons in all the right places…death penalty, abortion, preferential option for the poor, immigration, same-sex ‘marriage’, universal healthcare, Scripture study, Eucharistic Adoration, obedience to the Magisterium, being ‘more Catholic than the pope’, and on and on. He alluded to the works of many “liberal” and many “conservative” voices, and drew from the life examples of both “social justice” workers and “liturgy-minded” leaders, while painting a wholistically Catholic picture.
Father Bruce’s talks addressed the New Evangelization from the 4 transcendentals for which every human heart hungers and thirsts: unity, truth, goodness, and beauty. These he connected with the 4 marks of the church, 4 parts of the Catechism, 4 Greek words describing Church life, and 4 qualities of love.
The amazing part? This conference was extremely accessible;
We sang spirituals together, we talked about movies and TV shows, Elvis to Lady Gaga, The Wizard of Oz to The Hunger Games. He told stories of Americana – stories about Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Cardinal Bernardin, Danny Thomas, and many others – stories that we’d never heard before.
You’ll find contact information for Fr. Bruce Nieli there. Consider inviting him to your diocese; he is sure to give you a swift kick in the pants – out the door, overjoyed to be Catholic, and excited to share your faith with the world.