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Matthew Kelly inspires, challenges during ‘Passion and Purpose’ talk

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Matthew Kelly brought a packed house to St. Mary Church in Hyde Park Sept. 21. (Courtesy Photos/Dynamic Catholic Institute & St. Mary Hyde Park)
Matthew Kelly brought a packed house to St. Mary Church in Hyde Park Sept. 21. (Courtesy Photos/Dynamic Catholic Institute & St. Mary Hyde Park)

By Patricia McGeever
For The Catholic Telegraph 

Hundreds of people packed St. Mary Church in Hyde Park Sept. 21 to hear a message that will inspired and challenged them to be better people and better Catholics. The man delivering that message was internationally known speaker and New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Kelly. In a talk broken into three segments and peppered with 30 minute breaks and music from singer-songwriter Eliot Morris, Kelly offered his tips for living every day with “Passion and Purpose.”

“He’s just relatable,” says Julie Gerwe, who attended the talk with her husband Roger. “He brings it in a perspective of what this generation and culture needs right now.” The Gerwes are from St. Cecelia Parish in Oakley, one of the parishes that co-hosted Kelly’s visit.

Kelly gives 20 of these Passion & Purpose Live talks a year. It’s one way he and his team at the Dynamic Catholic Institute spread a message faith to get Catholics excited and energized. The event at St. Mary was the only one held in the archdiocese this year, but those in attendance came from all over the country.

Daniel Yon drove in from Huntington, W. Va., with his wife, sister and brother-in-law. He says he’d been waiting for a chance to hear Kelly speak. “He brought me back to the church, actually,” Yon says.  He received one of Kelly’s books a few years ago when he attended Easter Sunday Mass with his family.  The parish gift-wrapped them and passed them out to all parishioners. It changed his life.

“I’d been attending a non-denominational church for about 10 years. I started to follow Matthew Kelly, I started reading his books, became a member of Dynamic Catholic and I’ve been looking for a place to see him and this is the closest he came to where I live,” says Yon.

Yon is one of the people Kelly reached through what he calls a “game-changer. ”Kelly challenged his team at Dynamic Catholic to come up with ways to re-engage Catholics. One member of his team suggested giving away some of Kelly’s books at Christmas or Easter, a time when even those who don’t attend church regularly pack the pews. Another one of Kelly’s game-changers centered on research to learn why Catholics become disengaged from the church. A third one will debut next spring when Dynamic Catholic introduces video-based learning materials for students who are making their confirmation.

Kelly challenged those in the audience to take on their own personal game changers. The options: read the Gospels 15 minutes a day for a year; go to confession once a month for a year; or create a Mass journal and write in it your concerns and ideas of how you can become a better person.

“He just grabs you right away,” says Shirley Harris of St. Ann Parish in Hamilton.  “And he puts a little fun in it for you,” she says of Kelly’s presentation.

Father Nick Rottman, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Burlington, Ky., says Kelly, “has a good grasp of philosophy.” He came to St. Mary  with some of his parishioners.

Kelly offered a lot golden nuggets to his listeners, words to make them think. He told them, “If you really want to live with passion and purpose start spending time in silence.”  He reminds them that happiness is fragile by telling them “pleasure can’t be sustained beyond the activity producing it.”

Kelly speaks to thousands of people each year on different topics but his goal is the same — help disillusioned Catholics rediscover their faith and reenergize those who are disengaged.

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