Matthew Leonard brought the fire of an evangelist to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio.
Even though Matthew, who lives in Steubenville, Ohio, spends a good part of each year on the road as a lay evangelist, his wife and six children encourage his ministry. In fact, it is his healthy home life that helps him relate so well to those experiencing the everyday struggles of family life and the feeling of being stuck in your spiritual growth. In responding to these challenges, he calls on the fire of the Holy Spirit to stir up his audience’s faith.
Log torches – literally logs on fire on the sidewalk – guided people up the path from the Shrine Cafeteria to the Basilica to hear the talk on a chilly November evening. Along the way, the crowd was graced by a few snowflakes. There were two evening presentations aimed at igniting the fire, and for two nights he captivated a crowd of more than 100 attendees.
In between the presentations, Matthew visited the Eighth Graders at Our Lady of Consolation School and had lunch with them at the school’s Trojan Café.
And as usual at a Franciscan event, no one went away hungry. The attendees enjoyed a fine spaghetti dinner the first night, presented by parish volunteer groups. The second night featured the “Fork in the Road” Food Truck, providing a variety of cheese sandwiches and homemade soups.
Matthew’s books sold out after the presentations. Personally, I recommend Prayer Works: Getting a Grip on Catholic Spirituality to those seeking to delve deeper into the rich topic of prayer.
I hope more people will take the opportunity to get lit up by this fiery former pastor, who truly can deliver the fire to ignite your faith. You can find the recorded presentations on YouTube. At Our Lady of Consolation, we will have a follow-up study on Matthew’s video series on the “Science of Sainthood,” and hosting small-group discussion groups. For more information, please send me an email at email@example.com
See you on the upward journey toward sanctity, well within our reach! Peace and all good.
– friar John Bamman OFM Conv.
Friar John is Associate Pastor at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio.