Anthony Hamon prays at St. Hedwig Church in Barry’s Bay, Ont. He reflected on ways to spread the word of God to those struggling with their faith. Photo by Mary French

Holiness within reach for all, says evangelist

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • November 20, 2019

Anthony Hamon closed his eyes and pictured his friend. He suddenly realized the truth in Catholic lay evangelist Patrick Sullivan’s words: someone in your life needs you to be holy. 

Many gathered around with Hamon, likewise captivated by Sullivan’s discussion of holiness. 

“Being holy doesn’t mean you are perfect,” said Sullivan Nov. 14 during a Theology on Tap lecture for young adults at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont. “Yet those who choose to devote their lives to God will change, and people will begin to notice this. God’s grace strengthens us to be better people for ourselves and others.”

Hamon, 21, found the talk was a good reminder that holiness is something to be shared. 

When Sullivan encouraged his listeners to picture someone who doesn’t fully know God’s love, Hamon recalled a friend who had been struggling with the Catholic faith. Hamon realized that if he acted more like Christ, he could bring the goodness of God to his friend.

“I saw that holiness is not just for yourself,” says Hamon. “God wants you to be holy to help those around you also. God wants to be close to you, but He also wants to be close to everyone else. The best way you can help God is to be holy yourself, and then be able to bring that to other people.”

One of only three Catholic lay evangelists who live in Canada, Sullivan knows first-hand that dedicating one’s life to God requires a lot of trust. Supporting his wife and eight children by working as an evangelist is a far reach from his initial work as a high school teacher, but it has been nonetheless rewarding. 

Sullivan is an author of multiple spiritual books and he speaks across Canada and the United States. He says that this work has enabled him to touch many people, often in small or unknown ways. 

Sullivan explained that a chalice is sacred because it is set apart for God. But if something as simple as a cup can become sacred, imagine what would happen if we dedicated ourselves to God. We would become holy, explained Sullivan during his talk.

Peter Wilson, who attended the Theology on Tap night, found Sullivan’s talk helped him to reflect.

“Holiness is now,” said Wilson, 18, a first-year student at Seat of Wisdom College. “You don’t put it off until you are older or say ‘I’ll do this and this when I am done my degree’, and it’s not just saying a bunch of rosaries or going to Mass, which obviously is important. Holiness is just living out your current vocation the best way you can. As a student (this talk) helped me to see that.”

Maria Corkery, a fellow student, likewise realized that even something as simple as putting her phone away during a conversation is an opportunity to be holy.

“Witnessing to holiness means being firm in what you believe, but also being kind and listening,” said Corkery, 17. “Just being present (to those with you) is a witness to holiness.”

Corkery found that focusing on holiness in her own life is an easy thing to forget. Sullivan challenged her, she says, to remember God’s constant presence in her life, good and bad times alike, and inspired her to focus again on being holy for God.

All we need to do to evangelize others is simply be ourselves, explained Sullivan. Sometimes it can take years, he said, but by remaining grounded in our faith and loving to those around us, people will eventually ask questions — perhaps about the faith, or perhaps about the happiness and virtue we develop through our relationship with God. 

(French, 21, is a third-year liberal arts student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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