Most of the Salt + Light staff are major bookworms, and it shows. Chats about the latest Catholic releases happen regularly on the SLHour radio show, and our network has its very own book show, Subject Matters. So while Subject Matters is off the air for 2018 - as the team is busy working on our latest documentary, The Francis Impact (check out the trailer) - I want to share with our readers the newest books I'm enjoying in this weekly blog series.
Room 24: Adventures of a New Evangelist
by Katie Prejean
Katie Prejean McGrady
is a popular speaker, parish youth minister, and former high school teacher. She was also one of the American delegates to the pre-synod meeting of young people
held at the Vatican this past March. Learning about her involvement in the pre-synod got me interested in reading this book in the first place, but I learned much more about her other roles in this part-memoir, part-reflection on the invitational, relational, encounter-centred nature of evangelization.
In Room 24: Adventures of a New Evangelist
(2016, Ave Maria Press), Prejean details her first two years of teaching freshman religion at her high school alma mater in Louisiana. Full of colourful and down-to-earth anecdotes (one of my favourite episodes is the time students secretly created her an online dating profile), this book’s strength is that it will appeal to all Catholics, not just those who spend their 9-5 hours inside the school system.
What could easily have turned into a dry volume of “best practices” in teaching religion is instead a story animated and enlivened by the soft glow of the author’s own faith, which comes across as both deeply passionate and refreshingly human, in that Prejean isn’t afraid of talking at length about her own mistakes and missteps as both a teacher and a Christ-follower. Incidentally, Prejean was let go from her teaching position
(she tells the story 13 minutes into the linked podcast episode) months after this book was published, proof positive that God can bring a greater good (this book) out of a very difficult situation. I'd recommend it as a good entry-level book for those interested in learning about what lies at the heart of sharing our faith.
I liked the dual qualities of simplicity and profundity in this passage, from a section on the importance of prayer to our efforts at evangelization:
“When we joyfully talk about, witness to, and encourage this intimate encounter [with Jesus], we must do so having repeatedly had those encounters ourselves. Our encounter with Christ is intimate, which then gives way to continued intimacy with him throughout the normal, mundane, daily routine of life. Prayer is not simply the recitation of words. Prayer is, most importantly, simply “being with Jesus” as we rest and rejoice in the presence of life itself" (p. 93).