(Video) Interview with Fr. Robert Barron – On the New Evangelization and New Media

Check out my latest video interview with Fr. Barron where we discuss Pope Benedict’s recent book, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.”

For most people, Fr. Robert Barron hardly needs an introduction. As a preacher, commentator, and media personality, he’s become one of the main faces of American Catholicism.

Fr. Barron was ordained a priest in 1986—just one day after I was born. In 1992 he received his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique in Paris, and from there he returned to teach at his alma mater, Mundelein Seminary, as well as at the University of Notre Dame. In May of this year, Cardinal Francis George tapped Fr. Barron to be Mundelein’s newest rector.

Outside the academic world, Fr. Barron is best known for his 10-part Catholicism documentary series. Seen by millions on PBS and EWTN, the series used theology, art, architecture, music, and history to unveil the beauty of the Catholic faith like never before.

Fr. Barron is also known for his new media evangelization. Through his Word on Fire ministry he’s produced over 200 video commentaries which have gathered more than 4.7 million views. His Word on Fire website draws millions of visitors itself and features an engaging blog and over ten years worth of recorded weekly homilies.

As an author, Fr. Barron’s many books include:

Finally, and more personally, Fr. Barron is one of my great heroes, intellectually and spiritually. He’s amazingly smart and articulate, yes, but even more he’s holy, cultured, kind, and charming. He’s exactly the kind of man I aim to be (acknowledging, of course, the impassable gap between our intellects.)

During my recent trip to Chicago, I had the pleasure of staying at Mundelein and spending a few days with Fr. Barron. We recorded this interview in his Rector’s office and discussed the marks of a new evangelist, tips on evangelizing through new media, and what’s next for him and Word on Fire.

Watch or download our interview below:



Watch the video here (9 minutes)


Download the interview here (9 minutes)

Topics Discussed:

0:54What are the keys to becoming a new evangelist?
1:05 – Have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
1:24 – Be a person of ardor.
1:45 – Know the Story of Israel.
2:45 – Know the culture.
3:29 – Love the Great Tradition.
4:07 – Have a missionary heart.
5:09 – Know and use the new media.
5:39 – What advice would you give on evangelizing through new media?
6:53 – What’s next for you and Word on Fire?
7:41 – Fr. Barron’s upcoming “New Evangelization” documentary series


Q: What are the keys to becoming a “new evangelist”?

Well, the first one is they’ve got to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The point is, to evangelize is not just to share ideas—any theologian or historian could do that. It’s to share a relationship, and you can’t get what you don’t have. Therefore you’ve got to be in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, and this is piggybacking on Pope John Paul II, you’ve got to be a person of ardor. I cited that line from Aristotle where he said, “Finally, people only really listen to an excited speaker,” which I have always thought is dead right. If you’re not excited about it, you won’t communicate it effectively. So you’ve got to have ardor for the message.

Thirdly, you’ve got to know the Story of Israel. Here I’m working with people like N.T. Wright and others who would say at the heart of evangelization is the good news that the Story of Israel has come to its fulfillment—that the promises of God, as Paul said, have all met their “Yes!” in Jesus. When you abstract Jesus from Israel, you get the bland, spiritual teacher, guru Christ who is a kind of a contemporary form of the Gnostic-Christ.

I told the students that Marcion’s Christ is evangelically uncompelling. Remember Marcion, back in the second century, was kind of a crypto-Gnostic who said, “Get rid of the Old Testament and its witness to an unworthy, fallen deity. Just keep Luke, and some parts of Paul.” And the Church said, “Absolutely not!” to that proposal. I’m telling the [seminarians], you need to say “No!” to it as well. You have to know the Story of Israel to be an evangelist.
Thanks to Rozann Carter at Word on Fire for designing and passing along this poster, which is hanging all over Mundelein Seminary:


Check out Fr. Barron’s website, WordOnFire.org where you’ll find hundreds of blog posts, videos, and podcasted homilies. And if you haven’t seen his epic 10-part Catholicism series, don’t walk—run!—to buy the DVD set and companion book.

Also, if you liked this discussion you’ll find several more on my Interviews page. Subscribe free via feed reader or email and ensure sure you don’t miss future interviews.

What do you like most about Fr. Barron’s work?


Check out my latest video interview with Fr. Barron where we discuss Pope Benedict’s recent book, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.”