Eliseo Zompanti is the leader of St. Benedict’s parish’s Catholic Apologetics and Bible Study group. Photo by Vanessa Santilli

Toronto parish gets jump on Vatican’s call for apologetics

  • February 29, 2012

TORONTO - The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has recently encouraged a more widespread effort to get apologetic material into the hands of Catholics, but Toronto’s St. Benedict’s parish is way ahead of the game.

Eliseo Zompanti started the St. Benedict’s Catholic Apologetics and Bible Study group a year-and-a-half ago at St. Benedict’s parish. He said apologetics — being able to explain and defend the faith — is like a 2,000-year-old armoury that the Church has amassed.

“We’re raising a generation of Catholics who are not able to explain or defend their faith,” Zompanti told The Catholic Register.

A lot of Catholics know what the faith teaches, but they don’t know the “why” behind it, he said.

“When you know the ‘why,’ you’re better able to defend the ‘what.’ ”

Originally a Bible study group, Zompanti incorporated the apologetics aspect when he was asked to take over the group in October 2010. A branch head for the Toronto Public Library, he drew on the material he’d been working on for years, he said.

“The way I learn is I put things together, as if I’m going to do a presentation — so that’s what I did.”

He was inspired to lead the group in this direction as he felt like he had been drifting in and out of the faith for years. But once he really found out what the essence of the faith was, he wanted to share it. 

“I just felt this urge to share what I found in my own journey of faith with others,” said Zompanti.

Zompanti usually holds three sessions per month at the parish hall with about 40 to 50 people in attendance.

He breaks his presentations up into themes and has covered topics such as baptism, the Trinity and the Eucharist.

“When you approach it thematically, you can draw from various sources: the Church Fathers, the saints, philosophy, history, science and logic.”

There’s a purpose and a reason for everything God does in Scriptures, said Zompanti.

“I try to take people back to the faith from a first-century mindset of how the early Christians, Jews and the early Church Fathers understood the Scriptures, divorcing it from our 21st-century mindset.”

And apologetics is vital, particularly in today’s world where the faith is constantly under attack, said Zompanti.

“Catholics don’t know how to respond to that.”

Looking forward, he hopes other parishes will be able to do something similar to heed the call of Pope Benedict.

“This is already being done in our own little part of the vineyard and there’s no reason it can’t be done in the other parts of the vineyard in the archdiocese.”

All of Zompanti’s past presentations can be found online at www.stbenedictcatholicapologetics.com.

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