kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Filtering by Tag: Holy Spirit



Daily Reading for Dec. 14: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 127-134

Reflection by Kelly Wahlquist


”Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” 

Disclaimer (right off the bat): I know I am the one who set this Advent Reflection on “The Joy of the Gospel” in motion; and I know I was the one who assigned the paragraphs to each of the wonderful writers and evangelists who came forward to help; and, trust me, I KNOW it was all the work of the Holy Spirit. Then why am I sitting here right now astonished that this is the one section that wasn’t claimed, but left for me to write? The answer is simple and it is the same answer Blessed John Paul II gave us in 1998: “Whenever the Holy Spirit intervenes he leaves people astonished...” 

I am astonished that I have been blessed with the task to write today’s reflection, because this is my heart! This is the heart of the message I travel the country proclaiming. We must evangelize from heart to heart! We must joyfully share the love we have for Christ with another. We must “draw others to Jesus by being a light that is so lovely, they cannot help but want to know the source of it.” (Madeliene L’engle) 

To do that, to draw others to Christ, to share your love for the Lord, you must have a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and you must have a relationship with the person sitting across from you. It’s the greatest of all commandments: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor.

So how do you have a relationship with the Lord? Well, that was addressed in many previous reflections and will be addressed throughout the remaindered of these posts, because it is the ultimate goal, union with God! Therefore, let’s talk about how we can have a relationship with a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger —a relationship that opens us up to sharing Jesus with them from heart to heart. To me, this is the biggest lesson I have learned since the Lord decided to really put me to work in His vineyard these past ten years.

Much of my schooling in how to evangelize comes from spending tons of time 30,000 feet in the air sitting next to a “captive audience.” Ironically, I never set out to “evangelize” someone. I sincerely like to hear people’s stories, I like to know where they are in life and I love to share the joy I have in my heart for the work that I do... and I love sharing my love for the Lord!

Though the settings and scenarios may differ and the conversations vary greatly from person to person, a few key items remain consistent in my sharing of the Gospel message. I’m not saying I have the formula, for as Pope Francis tells us, “We should not think, however, that the Gospel message must always be communicated by fixed formulations learned by heart or by specific words which express an absolutely invariable content,” but perhaps my sharing with you can help you share Jesus with another this week. (Take note because this is your action item from today’s reflection —to actively share the JOY of the Gospel sometime this week. Tell someone about Jesus!)

  1. I always begin any conversation about the faith with, “Come Holy Spirit!” (I don't say this out loud, but I certainly pray it in my mind and in my heart.)
  2. I listen to where the person is on their journey. I listen to their hopes, their pains, their concerns for loved ones, their needs. (You’d be surprised how much people will share when buckled into a chair flying 30,000 feet above the earth! You’d also be surprised how much people will tell you in the line at the grocery store, or sitting at a baseball game, or waiting for a bus, if you are interested in them!)
  3. I share my story, my joy, my struggles, “my hopes, my concerns for loved ones and so many other heartfelt needs.” (128) 
  4. And in sharing my joy, I naturally share the source of it. For me it’s a relationship of love I found with the Lord through studying Sacred Scripture, and I share how that relationship with the Lord has changed my life.

Each encounter is different. Sometimes I invite the person to pray with me, sometimes I assure them of my prayers for them, sometimes I share the beauty of the Scriptures, sometimes I give them a good resource that fits their need. Perhaps a website like:;;;; etc... or a book like My Life on the Rock; Rome Sweet Home; The Sound of His Voice; Catholicism Pure and Simple, Praying Scripture for a Change; Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach; Catechism of Hockey, etc... or a DVD or CD such as Extreme Mercy; From Mormon Missionary to Catholic Church; or From Love, By Love, For Love, etc... or sometimes we become FaceBook friends, and sometimes we go our separate ways.

Though each encounter differs, each accomplishes the same task, a seed is planted. That is our job, to “respectfully and gently” plant the seed. (128) At another point on that person’s journey it may be the task of someone else to water that seed, someone else to fertilize, someone else to tend to the soil that surrounds it, someone else to put it in the light as it begins to bud. We don’t need to do it all! We can take comfort knowing that the Holy Spirit “enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms” and that we have each been given charisms, gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the good of another, for the sake of building up the body of Christ. (130) (Romans 12: 4-8) We can also take great comfort and find great courage and creativity in our sharing of the Gospel message knowing it is the job of the Holy Spirit to covert souls. The Holy Spirit bridges the valley of our differences; “he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity” (131).

Now, knowing we are a missionary people called to share the Gospel daily, and knowing that sharing our love for the Lord need not be some highfalutin formal presentation, but rather a sharing that can take place in the middle of an everyday conversation between two people, and knowing it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convert the soul, let us joyfully and enthusiastically go forth and “be constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey” (127).



Yep, this post was written by yours truly. Thanks for stopping by my blog and joining us as we slowly "sip" our way through "The Joy of the Gospel". On a side note, this is my favorite talk to give and I'm giving it tonight. So if you got a little moment, send a prayer to the Holy Spirit to be with us tonight!

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Christ Centered Chaos

As I write this article I am sitting on my deck at the lake on a beautiful sunny, yet breezy morning, and as the gusts of wind hit the already dried-up and fallen leaves on the deck, I can’t help but think, “Really Lord? It’s only mid-August, and this is Minnesota, can’t you just stretch the summer a wee bit longer?” ... and I can’t help but notice chaos ensuing around me as leaves fly everywhere —one just hit me in the face, seriously!  Yet, amazingly through what seems to be deciduous disarray, a certain consistent order appears, leaves grouped in what appear to be random areas gather and begin swirling like mini tornadoes, and it’s actually fascinating to watch. Why do they do that? How can something that seems so random create such an incredible sight? What are they circling around? 

Watching nature’s pandemonium gets me thinking of the chaos in everyday life. There are days I feel like one of those dried-up leaves being blown from swimming practice to work emergencies to the grocery store to conference planning meetings to making a second trip back to the school I just dropped my son off because he forgot his trumpet! Many of those days, I feel like the lone leaf, the leaf that isn’t rotating in the right direction with all the other leaves, and I wonder how I can ever find order.

Three months ago I was invited to speak at a women’s evening in Clearwater, Florida. It was one of those Holy Spirit invitations. A friend asked me to speak about the role of women in the New Evangelization... and here’s where the Holy Spirit comes in, she had no plan, no location, was caring for her husband who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and wanted the evening to happen in three weeks! Her life, as she knew it, had been tossed into turmoil with the terminal diagnosis of Mark, her love of forty-seven years; yet, she had heard the voice of God telling her to gather women together at this moment in time, and years of listening to Him and speaking with Him led her to know, she best respond to His call.

What occurred next was amazing in itself. Carol, and the Holy Spirit, put together an incredible night, everything fell into place perfectly. Msgr. Toups returned from speaking to all the bishops that morning at the USCCB gathering in California to begin the evening with Mass; amazing musicians offered their time and talents; four hundred women from around the diocese came together on short notice to laugh, cry and learn of their beautiful role in evangelization; and from that evening the seed of a new and exciting ministry for women was planted. All of this was impressive enough, but what truly impressed me was what was going on behind the scenes. I can honestly say, I have NEVER seen such chaos!

Carol’s husband was in the end stages of cancer and was being cared for in their home, which now contained a hospital bed, a shelf of medications and care-givers around the clock, and yet they had graciously invited me to stay in their guest house on their property. From the moment I entered their house I could sense a certain peace, but there was also more activity than ever imaginable. 

Days before the talk for women a huge tree had fallen in their yard, barely missing the house. The night of the talk, a pipe had burst and it had caused insurmountable damage to the walls and the floor of the room where Mark lay in his hospital bed. Everything had to be moved, gutted and repaired. I have never seen so many workers go through a house in such a short period of time. It was complete chaos—no sooner would one leave than another would show up. We even joked that it would be the perfect place for a single lady to meet a man because there were so many of them stopping by!

Somehow in all that chaos, in the swirling of the door as a plumber left and the carpenter appeared, there was a noticeable peace—a calmness that comes when everything is properly ordered, and it was there because everything in Mark and Carol’s house centered on Christ. Jesus was the center around which everything in that house rotated. He was the calm in the whirlwind. 

Every person who entered their house that day encountered Christ, and I was blessed to be able to watch it. Carol spoke to workers about their lives and openly talked about Jesus. Mark’s room was adorned with objects of his faith and his eyes and voice were as gentle as one would envision the eyes and voice of Christ to be. The caregivers served with joy. Kids and grandkids came in and out. Friends stopped by unexpectedly and happily learned they arrived just in time to move Mark’s hospital bed into Carol’s office, and that night when Mark was too tired to be moved from the bed to the chair to celebrate Mass, Msgr. Toups and Fr. Malley just moved everything, and Carol’s office, which had become a makeshift bedroom just hours earlier, now became the center of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. 

I think back to that twenty-four hour period often, especially when I find my life is spinning out of control and I feel like that one lone leaf not knowing where to go or how to find peace, and I am reminded that if everything is centered on Christ, there truly is no such thing as chaos. If Jesus is at the center of all we do, then even the most tumultuous times can be overcome with tranquility.

Mark went to be with the Lord on August 17 with Carol by his side, and though I am miles from their home, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the peace of Christ is dwelling there.


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Come Holy Spirit!

"Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history." ~Bl. John Paul II


I love the Holy Spirit! That seems like a pretty normal thing for a Christian to say, but truth be told, it wasn't long ago when I would have said, "Holy Spirit, Who?" Then slowly and patiently the Holy Spirit weaved His way into the muddled tapestry of my life. Soon I was talking to Him. Gasp! (As the kids say, "I know, right?") I was forging a relationship with the Spirit—I didn't even know Catholics did that kind of thing! Turns out, the Catholic Church is the oldest Pentecostal Church, the very roots of the Church are Pentecost.

Pentecost was an astonishing encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit that gave birth to the Church, empowering the apostles to go forward with boldness and confidence and bring others to that experience with the living Christ. How cool is that? And how cool is it that it is still happening today.... unceasingly!

People experience the Risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and as such they enter into a deep personal relationship with Jesus. That's so cool! That's what happened to me, but as on the day of Pentecost there was no "mighty wind", nor did I speak in tongues. It was just the constant soft gentle sound of His voice tenderly guiding me home, and as I began to listen and be open to the Spirit, joy began to take hold of my heart and a clarity of the gifts He had given me to build up the kingdom began to emerge. Soon the muddled tapestry began to take on form in the design God has planned for my life.

God has given me a transforming power in the power of the Holy Spirit, and He has given it to you too. Now it's up to us to call on the Spirit, to surrender to Him, to pray for the gifts, to rejoice in the fruits, and to allow the Spirit to lead us to a personal experience of Jesus' actions in our lives such that we respond to His will for us.

So today, I'm sitting down with "The Sound of His Voice" and I'm going to do my best to calm and quiet my soul and listen to the tender call of the voice of my Rabbi, and something tells me -in the depths of my heart- that with each moment spent with the Spirit another thread will find it's proper place in the tapestry of my life—a beautiful design that was planned for me since the moment I was conceived in the heart of the Father.

"Open yourselves to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us!" ~Bl. John Paul II


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The Church, in Union with Mary, Cries 0ut: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus!"

What a blessing to be part of the largest Pentecostal Church in the world, the Catholic Church! What a thrill to rejoice in the coming of the Holy Spirit 2,000 years ago and today to celebrate the liturgy, the great prayer by which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! COME HOLY SPIRIT!


In his homily for the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Father said, "In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission."

Pope Francis then went on to encourage us to trust in God with all our hearts and to trust in the newness He will bring into our lives, letting the Holy Spirit lead our souls in every decision. He challenged us to remain in the community of the Church and her teachings to ensure harmony—to live in the Church and with the Church. And he noursihed us for our mission, telling us to not stay closed in on ourselves but rather to let the Holy Spirit open us up to the mission stating it is the Holy Spirit who "impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ!"

The Holy Father concluded his message to the faithful saying, "May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.

Read the Holy Father's homily on the Vatican Radio website : Pope at Pentecost: Newness, harmony and mission

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Christ's entire mission is summed up in this: to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, to free us from the slavery of death and 'to open heaven to us', that is, access to the true and full life that will be 'a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy'." Benedict XVI, Angelus, January 13, 2008

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