How does the average Catholic encounter God? “Real Life Catholic” Host Chris Stefanick is on a quest to find out. Join him! (Airs 11 p.m. ET, Tuesdays beginning June 6; 5:30 p.m. ET, Thursdays, and 2 a.m. ET, Sundays. Also live streams online and at www.facebook.com/ewtnonline.)
“I don’t hear the voice of God often, but I asked Him what He wanted us to do with our video ministry,” Stefanick said. “I felt like God was telling me, ‘Tell My story.’ And what that meant was not to talk about Him, but to show how He is moving in His Church, in average ordinary people’s lives. So that’s what we did!”
In his quest to encounter God in fellow Catholics, Stefanick travels from the cranberry bogs and crawfish ponds of Wisconsin and Louisiana, to the beaches of Hawaii, the youth in Poland, New Mexico, and more. You’ll hear from people encountering God in their busy lives and in the death of loved ones.
“One of my best friends lost his wife,” Stefanick said. “His oldest child is 8-years-old. Six months later, we filmed our death with dignity episode. For me, that was stunningly beautiful and hope-filled without whitewashing the pain. In every experience of life, He [Jesus] is there.”
Stefanick is 41 years old. What experiences in this young man’s life led him to put together such a show?
“My parents dragged me against my will to a retreat,” he said. “I was in 8th grade. It really transformed me. It wasn’t just the speakers or the music, it was the people. I could see that they were alive. Pope Benedict XVI has a beautiful quote. He says the early Christians called themselves ‘the living ones.’ When I found myself in the presence of these people, I realized I was dead inside.”
Dead? Even though he was only in 8th grade, Stefanick says he had been drinking after school on a regular basis.
“I was on the wrong way really fast, and I became an apostle really fast. I’ve done nothing but share the faith ever since.”
Since his conversion, Stefanick has graduated from Franciscan University at Steubenville, married his college sweetheart, had six children, and worked in parish youth ministry in East Los Angeles, in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin for Bishop Jerome Listecki and then Bishop (now Cardinal) Raymond Burke, and in the Diocese of Denver for Archbishop Charles Chaput. Since 2012, he has used all of that experience and all of those contacts to build his own non-profit, “Real Life Catholic,” which is the ministry on which this series is based.
Stefanick says he wanted the show to be every bit as good as secular reality television shows, and he believes his team succeeded. In fact, he wanted the series to be so fun and so engaging that those who watch it will want to send links on social media not only to their Catholic friends, but to those they know are on the fence, and to those friends who aren’t even Christian.
“I think our biggest crisis in the church today is that a lot of people associate Catholicism with various issues which are unimportant. The branding of our faith is so removed from the Gospel. People don’t think of Catholicism as the Church of the Gospel. The world has come to see Catholicism as a list of rules and regulations.
“This program is something to show the world that, ‘No! We have something incredibly life-giving.’ When you come into relationship [with God], ordinary life looks the same on the outside, but it’s completely different on the inside. It’s the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In order to get in touch with the Spirit, Stefanick said he had to learn to quiet his soul, to take a deep breath, and to learn how to recognize God in the moment.
Today, he says: “Every moment, every Catholic is surrounded by the grace of God. If we learn to experience it, we can be transformed by it. We become ‘the living ones.’ Filming this show has made me a better person and I hope it has the same effect on the people who watch it. I think it will.”
To learn more: Follow EWTN’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ewtnonline, which will live stream the show and provide reminders about when it will air on EWTN television. (Find EWTN at http://www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.) To sign up for Stefanick’s newsletter, to get monthly video clips and links to the show, and for schedule updates, please go to www.RealLifeCatholic.com.