Tim Drake of St Joseph, MN, senior writer for National Catholic Register, interviews Father Larry Richards, Erie, PA, priest, pastor, public speaker and retreat leader, heard on Relevant Radio (1330 AM in the Twin Cities at 7:00 p.m. weekdays). Father Richards also is head of the TEC (To Encounter Christ) Teen retreat program in Erie.
Father Larry Richards wants to cut through the pessimism he finds in the Church.
His audiotapes on confession, the Mass and Truth have been heard by hundreds of thousands of people. A popular retreat leader and public speaker, he recently unveiled The Reason for Hope Foundation and website as a means to reach a wider audience with Christ’s message.
What led you to found the Reason for Our Hope Foundation?
My big thing has been evangelization. I’ve done over 700 retreats for high school students and conducted Teens Encountering Christ (TEC). I’ve been doing these since I was a deacon.
Some years back, one of my retreatants worked for the Mary Foundation. He asked if they could put one of my talks on tape. I didn’t know much about their work, but I agreed and we put out a tape on confession. That went really well, so we did another one on the Mass explained. Then we did one on Truth.
The foundation is an outgrowth from me doing retreats and my work with the Mary Foundation. We repackaged and updated the talks.
We use classical art on our products. Sometimes, we as Catholics don’t package things well. They look cheap. We want to give people something that looks really good and that they will appreciate. Our website is the top of the line. We want to meet people where they are.
With The Reason for Our Hope, we want to bring hope to the world.
Aside from your work with Reason for Our Hope, what else are you doing?
More than anything else, I hear confessions. You have to do so much healing of people who have been wounded by a bad experience with confession. I just did a retreat with 1,500 people. During the evening, we had 18 priests hearing confessions. We went until 12 or 1 a.m. and many of these people hadn’t been to confession in 20 to 30 years.
Would you describe the lack of people receiving this sacrament a crisis?
It’s a crisis because people haven’t been catechized. I taught at Cathedral Prep High School, an all-boys school, for eight years, and there was always a line for confession because I never sugarcoat sin. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. There is only conviction. God loves you and is willing to forgive you. People are afraid of sin because they are afraid of being condemned. Jesus died to forgive you. Let him forgive you, will you? Who doesn’t want to be saved? Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Does anyone condemn you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” God calls us all to be holy. That’s the struggle.
There is such a need for people to go to confession, but they are afraid or they haven’t been catechized. There is a great freedom that comes from it. I tell people, when you go to a counselor, you pay, but when you go to confession, the priest gives you new life. [...Snip] Nat'l Catholic Register
The Reason For Our Hope Foundation