Father and Husband, Author and Speaker: An Interview with Matthew Kelly

Recently, I had an opportunity to interview best selling author and popular international speaker Matthew Kelly.  I have known of Matthew since 2007 after reading a copy of his popular book, Rediscovering Catholicism, and was fortunate to hear him speak at St. Peter Chanel Parish in April of 2009 when he was part of the Strong Men/Strong Faith Conference.  Matthew exudes a fiery passion for our Catholic faith that is contagious, yet he is equally compelling through his logical and practical presentation of Catholicism and why we need to be devout in the practice of our faith.

During our interview, I found Matthew every bit as engaging and inspiring as his books and talks, but I was also touched by his obvious love for his wife and new son, Walter Patrick, who is just 11 weeks old.  He is working to create balance in his life so he can be with his loved ones as much as possible, while still maintaining his business career and his ministry work for the Church.  Matthew and his Foundation have big plans in the coming years to help Catholics become more passionate about their faith and he is working on two books which he plans to release next year.  I encourage you to read his books and listen to him speak.  I promise you will be inspired by this joy-filled Catholic!  I am grateful that I got to see another side of him – loving husband, caring father and a person much like you and me who is trying to make a difference and serve Christ and His Church as best he can.

Matthew, it’s great to connect with you again.  Since we last spoke you have gotten married and had your first child.  Congratulations!  How are you adjusting to married life and fatherhood?

I love being married and I love being a father. They are very real and tangible blessings in my life… which cause me to be grateful often, and gratitude is usually a sign that I am in a pretty good place spiritually.

You are one of the busiest people I know.  With a new family, international speaking engagements, prolific writing, foundation work and your consulting business, how do you fit it all in?  Where have you had to make adjustments in the past year?

Everywhere. It has required an overhaul in fact. I knew I would not just fit marriage and parenting into my life. I knew they had to primary and that the other aspects of my life needed to be rebuilt around marriage and parenting. The biggest practical change is less time on the road which has challenged me and my team to reach people with the message in more creative ways.

I have heard you speak and read your wonderful book, Rediscovering Catholicism.  You have a clear and undeniable passion for our Catholic faith and a gift for sharing that passion with others.  Where does that come from?  What has been your greatest faith influence(s)?

I was fortunate that a friend of my family introduced me to the genius of Catholicism when I was a teenager and I want the world to know the Church as I have grown to know the Church. Anyone who knows the Church the way I know the Church would love the Church… and I think that is a perspective that is needed more and more today

I understand that you and your foundation are trying to distribute 1,000,000 copies of Rediscovering Catholicism this year, especially around the Christmas Masses.  I remember my Parish St. Peter Chanel in Roswell, GA gave away over 4,000 copies a few years ago – the response was incredible!  Tell us about your vision for sharing these books and how people can learn more about this initiative.

When seventy percent of American Catholics don’t go to Church anymore, isn’t it time somebody did something? We think it is.

Forty percent of those who attend Mass on Christmas Day don’t attend during the year. It is the only time they come to Church. It is also our only opportunity to re-engage them.

Books change our lives. This book has changed literally hundreds of thousands of people’s lives… and now due the generosity of our benefactors we can make the book available for next to nothing, and hopefully change a lot more lives.

To take advantage of an incredible opportunity to help our Foundation put 1,000,000 copies of Rediscovering Catholicism in to people’s hands this year, please visit www.DynamicCatholic.com and learn about an incredible opportunity to get the book for very little cost.  This book can and will change lives and we need your help to get it out there.

Matthew, you often speak and write about the need to become the best version of ourselves.  How do we determine that?   Can we measure our progress towards this goal?

If you look back on today you can see moments when you were at your best and moments when you were not. This self-examination has played a huge role in Catholic spirituality. If we recognize when we were the-best-version-of-ourselves, we are able to increase those moments… and decrease the moments when we are not at our best.

We often read about “Cultural Catholicism.”  In your view, what is the best way to help Catholics engage in their faith more seriously and avoid going through the motions?

We love what we know. Only one percent of Catholics read a Catholic book last year. The thing I notice in my work as a business consultant is that the best companies are full of people who are continuous learners. We need to become continuous learners. Books, CD’s, seminars…

There are many challenges facing the Church today and the media has launched a number of often unfair attacks on the Church and Pope Benedict. What is your advice to people who are discouraged by these attacks?  Can you share how you deal with this kind of adversity?

The Church, and you, and I are going to live out the mystery of Christ. Everyone wants Easter Sunday and nobody wants Good Friday. Our past is not without blemish; our future will not be without blemish. If you want a perfect Church, you can’t be a member and neither can I. Our humanity is at every turn.

Taking that a step further, what counsel would you offer Catholics who are struggling with their faith?  How can they get back on track? 

Stop by your church every day for 21 days; just sit there quietly for ten minutes. God will do the rest.

We have to do a better job of keeping 18-35 year olds in the Catholic Church.  Matthew, can you share advice for the Young Adults in the Church today?  What is your sense of their challenges and how the older generation can help them?

We need to allocate resources to engaging this demographic, but we also need a strategy. I think someone needs to get the best minds in the Church together and spend some serious time coming up with a plan. Those who fail to plan can plan to fail, and I just don’t think we have a plan.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:13-14, 16)  How can people be lights for Christ today?  How are you accomplishing this?

The whole world is yearning for someone or something authentic. In our own little ways we need to live and love the way God would if he were here. That means connecting with him daily and allowing him to shine through us.

Matthew, I am truly grateful for the time you have spent with me this evening and I am certain your thoughts and insights will be valuable to our readers.  Your speaking, writing and foundation work is inspirational and sorely needed in the Church today.  All of us at the Integrated Catholic Life will be praying for you.  God bless!

 

About Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia, where he began speaking and writing in 1993. Since that time he has travelled in more than fifty countries and spoken to over four million people. He has written twelve books which have appeared on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists and have been published in twenty-five languages. His titles include: The Rhythm of Life, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, The Dream Manager, and Building Better Families.

In addition to his efforts to help individuals become the-best-version-of-themselves, Kelly is also a partner at Floyd Consulting, a Chicago based management consulting firm. His clients include: Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble, the Department of Defense, McDonalds, USBank, 3M, Ernst & Young, HSBC, the U.S Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and more than 35 other Fortune 500 companies.

His core message, regardless of whether he is speaking in a business, a school or at a Church, invites listeners to become the-best-version-of-themselves. Kelly convincingly communicates this message as God’s desire for each of us. And he insists that it is also the desire of parents for their children, husbands and wives for each other, CEOs for their companies and employees, pastors for their communities and members, and managers for those they lead and instruct.

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