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Catholics urged to uphold faith

Aubrey Butts | Thursday, November 10, 2011

Catholics need to defend their faith in an increasingly secularized society, Fr. Robert Barron said at the Jordan Hall of Science on Thursday.

Barron screened part of his documentary series, “The Catholicism Project,” at the lecture and said it was important that Catholics share their knowledge with the world.

“Always be ready to defend the facts and show that faith in God makes sense,” Barron said. “It’s very important that we go out to meet an increasingly skeptical world with the wealth of our own knowledge tradition.”

Catholicism is more than up to the challenge of lasting in an increasingly skeptical world, but needs to adapt to a society dominated by social media and technology. Barron said these are avenues of evangelism the Church has not adequately explored.

“I was always interested in preaching and reaching out to the culture more broadly,” Barron said. “I saw how behind the curve we were as Catholics in using the new media technology.”

Barron sought to fill part of this void with his documentary series, which uses media to expose viewers to Catholic tradition across the globe.

He said he sees God’s active presence in today’s secular and scientific world and wants to engage the topic in a more modern context.

“I looked out at the culture and tried to find the seeds of the Word,” Barron said. “If everything in the universe has been created by the pattern of God’s word, and if every human searches for God as St. Augustine explains, then you’re bound to find the Logos operating throughout culture.”

After Barron began his media-based evangelist campaign on WGN radio, Cardinal George, director of the Mundelein Seminary where Barron serves as professor of faith and culture, encouraged him to expand his efforts.

Barron took to YouTube to engage a new and more diverse audience, hoping to reach viewers who may not attend traditional religious gatherings.

“Before I knew it, view counts were going up and comments were flowing in” Barron said, “Through this means, I was able to draw people in who would never have come to the church otherwise. I reached out to the culture, and the culture reached back to me.”

It was this early success that sparked Barron’s aspiration to produce “The Catholicism Project,” he said.

“Throughout the whole media campaign, I dreamt of a big project,” Barron said. “We’re a smart religion, but more to it, we are a beautiful religion and we have such a global texture. Wouldn’t this be a great way to explore Catholicism?”

Even though it was a departure from their usual programming, the Colleges of Science and Engineering offered to host Barron’s presentation. College of Engineering Dean Peter Kilpatrick said Barron’s project incorporated the missions of both colleges.

“Engineering and science are all about reason, about using our intellect to make arguments for the faith,” Kilpatrick said. “As Saint Peter said, ‘Always be ready to give a reason for the faith that is in you.'”

Barron encouraged audience members to follow his lead and seek to spread the faith in new ways.

“God insinuates himself into every nook and cranny of everything he has made” Barron said. “Go and invade the society. Evangelize from the inside.”