2020 was a strange year in many ways. Sadly, the beginning of 2021 has not slowed the fear, isolation, and anger of the last many months. In the midst of such confusion, the work of evangelization becomes ever more necessary, and a refocusing on the grace and peace of our Savior ever more urgent. Bishop Barron and Word on Fire have placed themselves in the Lord’s service, poised (and privileged) to work in precisely this field.
Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Institute (WOFI) continues to train evangelists all around the world who can be channels of grace, and incarnated invitations to come to know Jesus Christ through his Church.
God’s providence in the hope-filled work of the apostolate showed itself in myriad ways in 2020:
- We have grown to over 17,000 members from around the world, representing 32 countries.
- We filmed 12 brand-new courses to be viewed by our students.
- We hired several new teaching Fellows who work to help our students better understand the faith and how we might evangelize in the new world.
- We earned a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation to provide numerous resources and events around matters of faith and science.
- We hosted a live Bishop Barron Presents event with Dave Rubin.
- We released four issues of the Word on Fire Institute Journal, Evangelization & Culture.
- We worked our way through 7 courses with our students as a community, each with an emphasis on ways in which we can bring the faith to the culture.
We believe this growth is a sign of God’s blessings, and we cannot thank each and every one of our students and donors enough.
Now, as the Institute looks forward to the new year, I thought I would share the exciting plans we have as we continue to present a variety of classes, themes, and topics to help evangelists grow in their knowledge of the faith and their zeal for the mission of the Church.
We ended 2020 with the much-anticipated course by Bishop Barron on reading the Scriptures with the early Church Fathers. Our students spent eight weeks diving into the Word of God with the guidance of Bishop Barron himself. This course, and so many others, are now available for our members to enjoy at their own pace, and we’re excited by the incredible content we will be rolling out in 2021. We are currently working our way through an excellent course by Fr. Paul Murray entitled Prayer, Beauty, Mission: The Hidden Springs of the New Evangelization.
Additionally, this year we will launch the following courses:
- The 5 S’s of Effective Evangelization by Elizabeth Scalia
- Understanding the “Nones” and How to Reach Them by Dr. Stephen Bullivant
- Living Liturgically in the Domestic Church by Haley Stewart
- The One Christ: Augustinian Deification by Fr. David Meconi, S.J.
- Faith, Science, and Sin by Dr. Christopher Baglow
- Understanding Dante by Bishop Robert Barron
As mentioned above, last year we sent all of our students four thematic issues of the Evangelization & Culture journal (exclusively for Institute members):
- Evangelization and the Digital Age
- Evangelization and Cinema
- Evangelization and Scripture
- Evangelization and Hope
The Institute is very excited to announce the themes for this year’s journals:
- The Philosophical and Theological Influences of Bishop Barron
- Evangelization and Humor
- Evangelization and Poetry
- Evangelization and Law
We are also thrilled about the activity, discussion, and relationship-building that has taken place among our members in the WOFI forums. What a diverse community we have, consisting of members from all over the world, and including Catholic clergy, Protestant pastors, catechists, university professors, teachers, physicians, psychologists, students, and many others from many other areas of expertise. Among our members are also converts from atheism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Mormonism, and many other faith backgrounds. We are truly blessed to have such a broad spectrum of men and women contributing their knowledge and experience within our WOFI Community.
One of the goals we are pursuing for the future is to gather these members in face-to-face communities, to start praying and worshiping together in order to help build the mission of the Word on Fire Institute.
I wish I could share everything that we have planned, but there is still more that I must keep under wraps! It is with grace, hard work, and continued support by all of you that we will work towards Bishop Barron’s vision of a full-fledged movement, proclaiming Christ in the culture. May the year 2021 be a year of boldness and zeal for the world to see, and may the message of Jesus Christ shine forth as salvation for all.