By Darlene J.M. Dela Cruz
Hawaii Catholic Herald
“Friends, if we stop speaking, it won’t be heard.”
One of the lines from Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron’s keynote speech at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia befits the passion the popular Catholic media figure has for sharing God’s word with the masses.
Bishop Barron is slated to bring his fire for evangelization to the Islands this month.
On tap for his first-ever visit to Hawaii is a liturgy at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Jan. 15 at 10:30 a.m., for which he will be the main celebrant. Bishop Barron is also scheduled to give a public talk Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the co-cathedral titled, “Seven Keys to the New Evangelization.”
At the diocese’s annual Red Mass for civic leaders, Jan. 17 at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, he will be the keynote speaker.
Bishop Barron, 57, is the founder of “Word on Fire” Catholic ministries, which he has since its inception in 2000 turned into a robust hub with daily blog posts, weekly articles and video commentaries, audio homilies and more recently, a new podcast.
The Word on Fire website (www.wordonfire.org) describes its mission as “a nonprofit global media apostolate” that “reaches millions of people to draw them into — or back to— the Catholic faith.”
“Word on Fire is evangelical; it proclaims Jesus Christ as the source of conversion and new life,” the website notes. “Word on Fire is Catholic; it utilizes the tremendous resources of the Roman Catholic tradition — art, architecture, poetry, philosophy, theology, and the lives of the saints — in order to explain and interpret the event of Jesus Christ.”
“Word on Fire Catholic Ministries exists to draw people into the body of Christ, which is the Church, and thereby give them access to all the gifts that Jesus wants his people to enjoy,” the site explains.
Bishop Barron — with his welcoming smile, black-rimmed glasses and articulate, friendly manner — imbues the ministry with a unique style of evangelization that is accessible yet erudite, deeply theological yet profoundly personal, informative yet inspiring.
He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of America 1982, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986. In 1992 he earned a doctorate degree in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris.
According to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website, Bishop Barron, shortly after being ordained a priest, served as associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross parish in Park Ridge, Illinois.
He was appointed in 1992 to the theological faculty of Mundelein Seminary University of St. Mary of the Lake, and was rector of the Illinois institution from 2012 to 2015. In the past, Bishop Barron has been a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
At the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City, he was twice a scholar in residence.
On July 21, 2015, he was selected by Pope Francis to be an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment,” he wrote in a statement released that day.
“The Church of Los Angeles—the most populous in the United States—is energetic, diverse, and creative. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work.”
He was ordained a bishop on Sept. 8, 2015. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles website notes that Bishop Barron is presently the Episcopal Vicar of the Santa Barbara pastoral region, home to more than 1 million Catholics.
Just a few weeks after his ordination as a bishop, he gave the keynote address before tens of thousands of attendees at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, one of the events tied to Pope Francis’ historic U.S. visit. He was also a speaker at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.
At the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this past November, Bishop Barron became the chairman-elect for the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. His three-year term at the post will take effect at the end of the bishops’ fall assembly in 2017.
Amid his work as a noted theologian, author and scholar — and his ranking as the second-most followed Catholic leader on social media after Pope Francis — Bishop Barron is still perhaps best known for his groundbreaking documentary, “Catholicism.”
The film series features breathtaking cinematography shots in more than 50 locations throughout 16 different countries. Bishop Barron explains and explores tenets of the Catholic faith in 10 DVD episodes:
- Amazed and Afraid: The Revelation of God Become Man
- Happy Are We: The Teachings of Jesus
- That Than Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought: The Ineffable Mystery of God
- Our Tainted Nature’s Solitary Boast: Mary, The Mother of God
- The Indispensable Men: Peter, Paul, and the Missionary Adventure
- A Body Both Suffering And Glorious: The Mystical Union of Christ and The Church
- Word Made Flesh, True Bread Of Heaven: The Mystery of The Liturgy and The Eucharist
- A Vast Company Of Witnesses: The Communion Of Saints
- The Life of His Love: Prayer and the Life of the Spirit
- World Without End: The Last Things
In September 2016, Bishop Barron completed and released a new documentary series, “Catholicism: The Pivotal Players.” He highlights in this project saints, artists, mystics and scholars who were pivotal in shaping the faith and the world around them.