Matthew Kelly offers strategies to re-energize the Church in Valley presentations

SCOTTSDALE — Matthew Kelly, a world-renwon Catholic motivational speaker, brought his message of re-energizing the Church by revitalizing the faith lives of its members to the Valley, addressing thousands at seminars in Surprise Jan. 27 and Scottsdale Jan. 29. A third event planned in Gilbert was canceled as Kelly battled a cold.

The best-selling author, acclaimed speaker and business consultant, is president and CEO of Dynamic Catholic, an organization whose mission is “To re-energize the Catholic Church in America by developing world-class resources that inspire people to rediscover the genius of Catholicism.” His books include “Rediscovering Catholicism,” “The four signs of a dynamic Catholic” and “Resisting Happiness,” among others, and are often distributed at many parishes during Christmas and Easter. About 1,500 people attended his presentation at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale.

“As Christians, we’re called to be people of possibility,” Kelly told his audience. “(But) we discard the instructions. A lot of people feel that way about the Church and the Bible. That’s arrogance. And wherever you find arrogance, you find mediocrity.”

On the other hand, those who use best practices to accomplish a task and are committed to continuous learning are effective — whether at business or in spiritual life.

“These two qualities are absent in the life of Catholics in America,” he pointed out. “If we want excellence, we’ve really got to grab hold of these two qualities.”

Kelly said that is how the saints of the Church achieved greatness in the faith, noting many began as shepherds or other occupations that gave them much time to be alone with God, which gave them personal clarity — another hallmark of a vital Church member.

“The saints had self-awareness and knew what their strengths and weaknesses were.”
Kelly offered many other strategies for successful faith and Church life:

  • He cited regular Scripture reading, including a daily 15-minute look at the Gospels for a year, a practice that would give readers a deep understanding of who Jesus is.
  • Prioritizing legitimate needs versus wants in life. These include four areas of spirituality — emotional, intellectual, spiritual and participation in the sacraments. Kelly said today’s culture tells people to satisfy their wants at the expense of their needs, but he added living like that would never satisfy an individual. “You lose your joy. Those trying to bring others to God without joy “become a very bad advertisement for God,” he said.
  • Discovering one’s “unique talents and abilities” given to them by God. This is key to finding one’s mission in life and fulfilling it.

A key point in all of this, he said, is resisting today’s cultural influences that state truth is up to each individual. Being influenced by the world saps a person’s wisdom and the ability to find one’s mission.

That theme resonated with Liz Mayhew, 61, a St. Bernard parishioner. “As far as becoming a healthier person, and I see it benefiting others, giving me more of a direction,” she said.

Leaders at St. Bernard were ecstatic with the message and turnout in a community where affluence can choke spirituality, they said.

“For the past few years I’ve been giving out his books at Christmas,” said Kathie Stine, St. Bernard’s director of faith formation ministry. “This is very meaningful as Christ renews this parish.”