From January 2012 until last month we ran Fr Robert Barron‘s Catholicism as a series-based course of process evangelisation and catechesis at the Centre for Catholic Formation in Tooting Bec. Headed up by our parish Catechetical Co-ordinator, Hannah Vaughan-Spruce, almost 100 people attended the course, which was hosted on Thursday evenings.
At the end of the course we were thrilled that a number of people asked to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, to be baptised, and/or to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Those people will now undergo some further formation in preparation for that wonderful act of Christian Initiation, or sign of their call to continuing conversion.
Next week Fr Robert Barron will be visiting London. He’s already in the UK, having spoken in Durham this week and he will be speaking at the LACE Conference Centre in Liverpool on Tuesday evening (1 May). On Thursday he will be giving a lecture at Heythrop College, University of London, and on Friday there will be a screening of Catholicism followed by a reception and dinner at St Patrick’s, Soho Square, where my ordination was hosted last Saturday.
I will certainly be heading to Soho Square, and I hope very much to be able to make the lecture at Heythrop. If you are in or around London in the next week, then do make the effort to try and attend. You can get more details here.
Fr Barron has a particular style, and a particular approach to explaining the faith. Someone described him to me as having a “geeky enthusiasm” – and you can tell that he fervently believes in the ‘product’ he is ‘selling’. The series is beautifully produced, with broad camera angles, well-produced music with plainchant themes woven through, and snappy, memorable messages which reveal and point towards the fundamental, profound truths of Christianity.
I want to write more about the course in the future – I think there’s a great deal to say. If you have the opportunity to attend it, do, and if you want to find out more about running the course, why not come along to the Discovery Session that we are running on 26 May in Tooting Bec? In the meantime I want to offer a general thought on contemporary apologetics.
In the Acts of the Apostles, St Paul visits Athens and, specifically, the Areopagus – by that time a place used to honour an unknown pagan god. Here he engages in Christian apologetics, engaging with the world-view and presenting Christian message in a public, potentially hostile forum. That apostolic example of apologetic evangelisation has got to find roots in us if we are to similarly engage in the contemporary world, where the unseen god of consumerism is slavishly followed by so many. Fr Barron does that well through his online ministry of teaching – coming to the new Areopagus, the internet: the very place where consumerism can often reach it’s zenith.
St Paul didn’t convert the crowd when he addressed them, but we are told that “some men joined him and believed” (Acts 17:34). That’s a pretty good place to start.