BANGOR — The terms “delete” and “reboot” go far beyond anything to do with computers, as I learned last Thursday evening from Chris Stefanick, internationally-recognized evangelist and the founder of the Catholic outreach organization Real Life Catholic. The engaging 40-year-old inspired a crowd of about 700 at Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School, claiming that “we are in the middle of a love story, because faith is a relationship.”
I was captivated by the devout Catholic’s booming voice and powerful blend of truth and humor mixed with quirky anecdotes. More so, I was in awe of the wisdom he imparted without being forceful as he reminded the crowd to “be yourself—Catholics. You don’t have to be a fire hydrant, just be a sprinkler.”
Stefanick shared how his passion began. “In junior high, my parents took me to a church event, which I now call a ‘coerced Catholic experience,’” he said. “That changed my life, which is why I’m all for parents making their kids go to holy stuff.” What he saw at the event was something different. “It was the people. I could see that they were alive. And when I found myself in the presence of these people, I realized I was dead inside and wanted to be alive.”
Using pictures and stories of his own six children and drawing on examples of the lives of Blessed Chiara Badano, St. Josephine Bakhita, Pope St. John Paul II, his paraplegic friend John in Haiti, and another friend—a mother of four who died of cancer—he illustrated the power of faith and trust in overcoming difficulties and embracing life.
In between his powerful message and prayer, the energetic Stefanick guided the audience through five habits to adopt, starting with “love yourself.”
“To receive love, you have to love yourself with words.” He advised his attendees to begin their day with prayer: “I open the Gospel according to iPhone. It takes just five minutes.”
Another habit, he said, is to “share the faith,” and habit four, he said, is “friendship”: “Your head is like a bad neighborhood. Don’t go in their alone.” Habit five is “reboot.”
Then, in his uplifting style, he concluded — “You are kind of a big deal.”