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An Interview with Patrick Sullivan

by Gordon Nary

Gordon: You have a strong background in theology.  Where did you study theology and what were some of your favorite classes?

Patrick: I studied at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Ontario where I (as one of the few laymen in the program) trained with many of today’s faithful priests here in Canada. Probably my favorite courses were those that focused on Scripture or helped me to better understand the Biblical world.

Gordon: When and why did you decide to be a catechist, writer and speaker as a full-time profession?

Patrick: While it is true that we all must choose our particular paths in life, the choices are all the easier when we firmly believe that God has preferences for us. Before I could choose the work of evangelization then (i.e. writing, speaking, teaching) I really believe that God called me to the task first. And while it is far from an easy task to accomplish, knowing that this is God’s preference for me makes the work that much more joyful. 

Gordon: Most Christians speak of their love of Christ,  but that sometimes appears compartmentalized and not integrated in our daily lives. From your perspective, how can we better expressive our love of Christ in our daily lives?

Patrick: Take a serious look at where God has placed you. Your vocation (i.e. marriage, holy orders, consecrated single or religious life), your job, your skill set, your talents, and your natural virtues, all of these are great signposts as to how you are to give glory to God in your life. Remember, to live a holy life is to live a whole one; not compartmentalized as you say. Do small things at first; change the way in which you express your Faith if you need to in order to better evangelize those around you, but be yourself, because that’s what the world needs.

Gordon: What are some of the most interesting questions that have been raised   at you speaking engagements and what were your answers?

Patrick: When you speak at enough events certain patterns begin arise. For example, adults above the age of fifty always ask me about how to bring their high school or adult children back to the Faith. Teenagers always ask me some version of how they can be saints. And little children consistently ask me theologically deep and provocative questions. Each of these can have both short and lengthy responses, so for the sake of our time together I will give you the short answers.  To the first question this is what I usually say: Your children will come back to the Faith when you begin to pray for someone to come into their lives who is holier than you are and smarter than your child is. To the second question I usually say: We all (you and I, young or old) will become saints when we finally accept that saints are made in the trying. Never give up. Always love God. And He will take care of the rest.  And to the third question, which quite honestly can vary so much: Hmmm...I’m going to have to think about that one. Haha.

Gordon: In your opinion, do Catholics have a responsibility to evangelize, and, If so, why?

Patrick: As Catholics and members of the Church we are absolutely obliged to spread the Good News. Of course, this must occur in a manner that is unique to each situation we find ourselves in, but it is our duty nonetheless. Why? Because the world is hurting, and Jesus is the remedy. 

Gordon: We have experienced a significant number of young people leaving the church  Do you have any suggestions on what parishes and we as individuals can do to address this challenge?

Patrick: Well, I have already briefly addressed what parents can do with older children, but on a broader scale (in our parishes or otherwise) we simply need to give the young people what they crave; and what they crave is the most normal thing in the world.  The first is authenticity. Show them that you live what you believe, and that you believe with your whole heart, banning from it any traces of hypocrisy.  The second is a challenge. Challenge their intellect with the brilliance of our literature, theology, philosophy etc. Challenge their hearts, that is, show them the brokenness of this world and call them (just as Christ has called all of us) to be part of the solution. Finally, show them joy. We all crave happiness. Show them that the most joyful path in the world is following Jesus, even when, that path leads to the cross. The degree to which we are able to implement these three responses into our parish, school or home life, will be the same degree to which our young people hunger after the Faith.

Gordon: I thought that the best way of closing this interview was with one of your exceptional videos

Patrick Sullivan speaks on the Eucharist: The Real Presence

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