This weekend I was in Denver for the wedding of two good friends of mine, and I will have a few blog posts this week based on my experiences there. Rather than post chronologically however, I wanted to make this first post about two people I met in Denver who, if you listen to the show or follow Catholic new media, you are very much aware of. And for those of you who do not know them, allow this to serve as your formal introduction to some amazing people.
On Saturday I had the great opportunity to meet Catholic media pioneers Greg and Jennifer Willits, a couple whom I have listened to, admired, and learned from for a number of years now. Their humor and banter makes you stick around to hear what they are going to say next, but beyond that mastery of good broadcasting there is a frankness in discussion and a drilling down to key issues which all of us face in a highly secularized world, which Greg and Jennifer speak to effectively, in a way all of us can relate to. And in embracing the call to evangelization they have done so much, that even attempting to summarize their many projects and achievements to date would take a rather lengthy blog post in and of itself. So I will direct you to the About section of their website and you can see just some of the things they are working on.
Greg picked me up at my hotel in downtown Denver early on a very cold Saturday morning, and we drove out to gracious Rancho de Willits, where I got to meet Jennifer, several of their children, the very friendly family dog, and the more skittish family cats. We recorded Episode No. 199 of the Catholic Weekend show – and if you’re doing your math properly you will note that our 200th episode is coming up this Saturday – and then we recorded Greg and Jennifer’s show, The Catholics Next Door. I then had to head back into Denver for the remaining wedding festivities, but it was great to be able to talk on the drive about not only Denver, which in many ways is so different a place from what I am used to on the East Coast, but also about media, the Church, and finding one’s vocation in the world. It’s a conversation which needs to continue over pints at some point in the near future.
Just as the CNMC in Boston was a rather surreal experience – though obviously in a very good way – so was chatting with Greg and Jennifer on their show, at their house. If you have listened to or watched them over the years, they’re exactly the fun, passionate people you think they are. Yet as much as I enjoyed doing these shows with them, and getting to know them in person, there was a little moment that occurred when I first arrived which really struck me, and impressed me about the sort of people they are.
Two of the Willits boys were heading off to a weekend retreat for their confirmation preparation, and as in any family when the kids have to get going somewhere, there was much running about making sure bags were packed, permission slips were signed, and coats were put on. Then just before it looked like all was ready to head out the door, everyone stopped. The family prayed together, with Greg leading them, asking that Our Lord would bless his sons on their retreat, drawing them closer in love to Christ.
We know that the Patriarchs prayed over their children in this way of course, and I was reminded of some of those stories as I saw this, even though at present Greg has not gone with the full-on Jeremiah beard. Yet apart from saying grace before meals, I wonder how many of us in our families or with our friends take the time to pause, gather together, and invoke the aid of the Almighty, when there is something important we are about to set out and do. It struck me as a wonderful example not only of good parenting and family life, but also of the importance of stopping what you are doing and being quiet, even if only for a few moments, before plunging into a big project or some maelstrom of activity.
In any case, thank you again to Greg and Jennifer for a terrific time on Saturday: it was an honor and privilege for me to visit you and your family, and to be on your show. To listen to The Willits on Catholic Weekend you can follow this link, and to listen to me on The Catholics Next Door, you can visit this page, and of course both episodes are available to download in iTunes. And be sure to check back here tomorrow, when I will answer the question: just how dry IS the Mile High City?