I’ve been approaching Catholic dioceses around the country to offer by book, The Father’s Son, to parishes as a resource for Adult Faith Study, book discussion groups, parish reads, RCIA, etc. The response from diocesan leaders for Evangelization, Discipleship, and Adult Faith Formation has been humbling and encouraging. The real blessing in this outreach has been connecting with some of these men and women of faith and their obvious commitment to share the Catholic faith. While we are all aware of the dwindling attendance at Masses, especially for younger adults, some of these dioceses are energized and creating amazing parishes. One quote from an Alaska diocese read – “Our 18-35ish-year-old groups are really gaining some networking momentum through gathering social events, book, and bible studies, as well as prayer, adoration, and Mass.” That was encouraging to hear.
One of the leaders I was blessed to connect with, Chad Judice, from the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana was a great and encouraging example of the leaders we have in the Church today. Chad is the Director of the Office of Catechetics in Lafayette, but he is also the father of his son, Eli, who was born with spina bifida. He has written several books on Eli and appeared on EWTN and other programs to share his incredibly moving story of love. When I conversed with him and then listened to his interviews, I choked up as a saw the type of man Christ calls us all to be. Chad seemed to get the kind of love Christ was trying to teach us about, but few of us see as deeply as he seemed to have a firm grasp of. What could have been a tragedy, Eli has brought joy and love to his family, and they have returned it to him. Maybe we only get glimpses of the love God has for us through our experiences, suffering, and fully trusting in God’s plan for us.
Chad describes Eli with love and sees the dignity and joy of a young boy vs someone defined by a condition which they have. One of the recommendations for his first book, Waiting for Eli, captured it well. "Thanks for being such a witness to the Gospel of Life. I would love to meet the little boy who has taught so many people the greatest lesson of all - to love unconditionally." - Fr. Michael Russo, Pastor Our Lady of Fatima Church. Chad sees Eli’s life as a pro-life story. Most children diagnosed with spina bifida are sadly aborted, assuming the worst-case scenario – assuming that ending the baby’s life is the most humane thing to do. Take a look at the videos on www.chadjudice.com and see if you agree with Chad and his wife, Ashley’s, decision to trust in God’s plan and loving choice of life.
As I mentioned, I have met some great and passionately committed individuals with a vocation and mission to share the power of the Catholic faith and Christ to others. They may not all have as profoundly powerful a story as Chad Judice, but they all have a story and a love of Christ that comes across so clearly in their responses. I’ve been humbled and greatly moved and motivated by these people and I hope I can be a part of that mission to evangelize and be an example of the love Christ showed to us with his very life. We have an unconditionally loving father in heaven who sees us as his beloved sons and daughters, so I will end with a quote Chad included on his website.
"One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the father prayed: Dear God make me the kind of man my son needs me to be." ---Author Unknown