Curtis Martin Encourages Bishops at USCCB General Assembly

“On the feast of St. Barnabas the Encourager, I hope to be here as an encourager.” With these words, Curtis Martin began his address to the Spring General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). On June 11th, Curtis was invited to St. Louis, MO to speak about bringing the gospel to U.S. campuses.

“Many bishops commented on the power of Curtis Marin’s talk to us,” said Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. “His witness of the need to promote an encounter with the love of Jesus Christ for our people resonated deeply with our desire to spread the New Evangelization.”

In Curtis’ presentation, he explained there are two versions being told about the Catholic Church. One is presented by the media: the Church is shrinking, secularism is on the rise, and people are less interested in learning about the faith. However, the reality is that people—particularly the millennial generation—are eager to know more. The thing is, they don’t yet know how to follow Jesus Christ with their whole hearts.

To win hearts for Christ, Curtis said, the first step to take isn’t catechesis. It’s evangelization.

Quoting chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel, Curtis shared one of Jesus’ parables: the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid—and for joy over it, he went and sold all that he had to buy the field (Mt. 13:44). When asking young people “How’s that Catholic thing going for ya?” Curtis found the overwhelming response to be, “This Catholic thing is really tough!” That is because young people are going through life trying to sell all they have to find a treasure. But that isn’t how the parable goes. In the story, the man found the treasure first. That treasure is one’s encounter with Christ’s love and the knowledge of His plan of salvation for each one of us.

FOCUS is striving to help college students discover the treasure of Christ in their lives. For the missionaries, their work is a labor of unrequited love. On campus, where the culture has intentionally pushed Christ out, missionaries reach out in love to students who do not respond to them—at least not right away.

“[But] that’s what we ought to do,” said Curtis, “because that’s exactly how God loves you and me.” God loves each of us regardless of whether we choose to love Him back. As FOCUS missionaries pray for students, invest in them, and share their lives with them, they help college students open up to God and see His work in their lives. Slowly but surely, there is a response: college students who are at first cold eventually catch fire for Christ.

It is these young people, those who have caught fire for the faith and who can be raised up in the proper teachings, who will stand as the Church’s future. Like well-trained musicians looking to the conductor, they will look to the pastors of their home parishes already possessing the essential tools they need, ready to help build up their home churches as equal partners in the New Evangelization.

“When we are as leaders encouraged,” said Curtis in closing, “we think boldly.” As a final word, he told the bishops that they were created for this time. Now is the best time in the Church’s history to raise young people up in not only knowledge of the Church, but also in sharing her treasure: the treasure that is Christ.

View the full recording of Curtis' talk below:

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