As part of Brandon Vogt’s Support a Catholic Speaker Month, he asked his readers to identify the top 100 Catholic speakers. Then, he took it a step further. Bloggers could sign up to profile the speaker of their choice. Let’s be honest, there are certainly more than 100 fabulous Catholic speakers. Some are incredibly well known, others not as much, but there are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful speakers who really touch on who we are as Catholics. They are inspirational, smart, funny, engaging and on fire about their faith.
As I perused the 100 names, I was excited to see that Fr. Larry Richards was on the list and no one had signed up to profile him. It was providence. If you’re looking for a great speaker for your parish, organization or event, read on. I was truly hoping to interview him for this post, but he’s on a three-month sabbatical in Italy (blessed, indeed!).
A Reflection on His Speaking
I first heard Fr. Larry during our diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada. At the time, I was living in Carmel, Indiana, and our diocese took 800 (yes, 800!) youth, seminarians and adult chaperones to Toronto. Our bus stopped in Erie, Pennsylvania, and we enjoyed time with Fr. Larry in his own parish, St. Joseph. I’m not sure how often that happens, but it was wonderful to sit in his parish, where he preaches every day, and hear his words of wisdom. Quite honestly, our group was completely exhausted. We had gathered in the wee hours of the morning to board the buses and driven most of the day to Pennsylvania. I had low expectations for the state of our group. I was hopeful that a fair amount would stay awake and not embarrass us as Fr. Larry delivered his talk.
From the moment he began, I cast aside that worry.
For more than an hour, Fr. Larry really spoke to our high school youth. At the time, he was serving as chaplain at the local Catholic high school. He “got” teenagers and they loved him. He was funny, engaging and honest. He challenged our teens to be more faithful Catholics – shoot, he challenged the adults, too! A decade later, I still remember much of his talk. There were two things he shared that have stuck with me for more than ten years and I reflect on them often.
He lamented how people spend years of their life and thousands of dollars searching for the secret to life. He offered to save us all that time and money and boil it down to this: Know God, Love God, Serve God. “That’s pretty much the three-part secret to life,” he said. When we moved from Indiana to Texas, those words came to mind. When my husband changed jobs and made a major life decision, I heard those words. When friends chastised us for life choices, I clung to those words. When our preemie was born, I relied on those words.
Then, he struck on an important topic: prayer and confession. I’ll freely admit, in the early days of my conversion to Catholicism, confession was on the low end of priorities. I just didn’t fully embrace the church teaching. Fr. Larry’s insight was the impetus for a change of heart. While it took years of prayer and reflection to get me here today, it was his words that began the change. As he talked about the importance of prayer and confession he likened it to a relationship with girlfriends and boyfriends. He asked our teens if they had a significant other – lots of hands shot up around the sanctuary. He asked if they talked to them often. “How many times a day,” he asked? Then he posed the question: “How would they react if you saw them and walked by without saying anything?” Rhetorical question and I’m sure you see where he’s headed. Fr. Larry challenged our teens. He said, “If you can spend half the day talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend, take the ten minutes and get yourself to confession on a regular basis. And, by all means, get to know your Maker. Spend some time in prayer with him.” I can tell you that I hear his words EVERY time I put off going to confession and EVERY time I sit down to pray.
Fr. Larry challenged me to start having an authentic relationship with God. As a former Protestant, I knew every book of the Bible, every scripture verse, every historical thing about God and I believed them all. But, I had never taken the time to get to know Him. It sounds so simple, yet it is the key for us living a life for Christ, isn’t it?
Want to Hear Him Speak?
Lighthouse Catholic Media was gracious enough to share this 10-minute preview of Fr. Larry. It is fantastic and I hope you give it a listen.
Interested in Inviting Him to Your Parish or Organization?
If you’re interested in inviting Fr. Larry to speak, you may visit his website, The Reason for Our Hope. Visit here for details about payment, travel and his schedule. He speaks to groups for various events: parish missions/talks, men’s conferences, young adult/high school events, priest/deacon/seminarian retreats and Eucharistic/Marian conferences. The sponsoring organization is responsible for his travel expenses. Fr. Larry prefers to be housed in a hotel or rectory and he is diabetic, so plan accordingly. He does not have a set fee for speaking, he asks for a free-will offering instead.
Where Else Can You Find Fr. Larry?
He’s a busy man. You can read a number of his books or listen to his CDs or tune into his show on Relevant Radio, “Changed Forever with Fr. Larry Richards.” He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.