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.

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Daily Reading for Dec. 3: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 14-18

Reflection by Thomas Smith

Parish life at St. Joseph's in Rosemount, MN

Parish life at St. Joseph's in Rosemount, MN


In this final section of the introduction (para. 14-18), Pope Francis identifies the three audiences/settings of the New Evangelization and the seven themes that shape his vision of our particular chapter in the ongoing story of salvation.  

These seven themes, and each of the three audiences/settings, will be explored in more detail as the document unfolds.  Even though this section is a “nuts and bolts” summary of what Pope Francis will be proposing in Evangelii Gaudium, it isn’t lacking in material that both challenges us and invites reflection. While I am tempted to explore each of the three audiences here, they will be unwrapped as the document unfolds, so I will focus on the first one, as it gives us plenty to “sip” on for a daily meditation.



There’s a real danger of imagining that the Gospel call and the New Evangelization is about “those people out there.”  And yet, for Pope Francis, the first setting of the New Evangelization is the local parish and it’s first audience is most of the people reading this series - it’s us!  By us, I am presuming you are an “intentional disciple” (1) whose life is marked by “full, active and conscious” participation in the Mass (2) while flourishing in and sharing your particular charisms with the Body of Christ (3).  That’s a tall order, I know, but that should be ordinary Christian living.  

Even when we are doing all that, we are still the object of the New Evangelization. Conversion is an ongoing process, an organic growth that we have to constantly cultivate and engage.  As Pope Benedict remarked a few years ago, if we are not advancing in the spiritual life, we are, by default, regressing.  If the Gospel is at it’s heart a relationship with a Person, Jesus Christ, then it naturally has to be engaged daily like a healthy marriage. The central place that relationship is strengthened and nourished is the parish setting where we meet Christ in Word, Sacrament, and in each another.  By the way, this was the topic of Pope Francis’s first Sunday of Advent homily for a suburban Roman parish (see )   


With this in mind, take a few moments today to make a clear-eyed assessment of your engagement with your local parish community.  Are you welcoming Christ fully in Word and Sacrament so you are continually growing in the exercise of your gifts and your confidence and joy while sharing the Gospel?  Consider some simple changes like arriving at Mass early so you can recollect your heart to receive all the graces the Mass offers.  Take a few minutes in Lectio Divina on the scriptural readings of the day “to prime the pump” of your heart for their proclamation and exposition by our clergy (the Pope is counting on our clergy being “animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful” (para. 15). If you find your mind wandering in the liturgy, establish a “wakeup” word or phrase that draws your heart back into the moments of the Mass.  I use very simple ones like “Jesus” or “I love you, Lord help me to love you more.”

Have you discovered and deployed your particular charisms?  This is one of the most important ways we can take up Pope Francis’s invitation here to “grow spiritually so that [we] can respond to God’s love even more fully in [our] lives (para.15).  If you don’t know what your charisms are, seriously consider discerning, discovering and deploying them. Your particular parish desperately needs them, and you were given them for that community.  You owe it to your brothers and sisters to do this. My life was transformed when I discovered and started living in my charisms.  A great place to start is

Pope Francis reminds us we must be vigilant and continually open to the Gospel, even as seasoned disciples.  The daily prayer that Pope Francis offered in para. 3 is one of my morning renewal prayers now, like Kelly, to also help me be attentive to that.  When we do this, we are equipped to faithfully and fruitfully share the Gospel to the other two audiences (the baptized but not evangelized, and those who don’t yet have the gift of faith).  


(1) What in the world is an “intentional disciple”? See Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.  This should be on every Catholic bookshelf.

(2) Sacrosanctum Concilium. para. 14.

(3) Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 798-801.



Catholic speaker and presenter, Thomas Smith, was a Protestant minister who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. To follow Thomas' insightful blog or contact him visit:

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Today the Holy Father, Pope Francis, gave us the perfect Advent gift, the perfect guide to help us on this journey as we prepare for the coming of Christ. He gave us his first Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium, or for us non-Latin speaking folk, The Joy of the Gospel. So, being the Catholic geek that I am, I poured my coffee into my already 1/2 full cup of Pumpkin Spice creamer and sat down to joyfully read an Apostolic Exhortation at 6:00 am! (I PROMISE, if you knew me in college this scene would shock you! All of it... the early wake up, the coffee chosen over the Diet Coke and above all, the fact that I found excitement in an Apostolic Exhortation, much less knew what it was!) 

The document turned out to be richer than my Nestle's Coffee Mate drenched coffee and I soon came to the conclusion that I could not digest it all in this one sitting. So, I thought... small sips... and I came up with the idea to read a section of Evangelii Gaudium each morning over my coffee during Advent. Then I thought, there's no way I can do this alone! I won't grasp the fullness of the message, and let's be honest, I'd probably quit by day 8 without someone to prod me on (that's what happens with my workout schedule anyway.) Thus, I'd like to invite you to join me. 

Throughout Advent I am going to post sections of Evangelii Gaudium and hopefully a reflection or some practical things I'm going to try to do to live the message of that section with renewed conviction, with confidence and with hope. Again, I invite you to join me. Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or Diet Coke or whatever wakes you up) and join me in reading this rich Apostolic Exhortation in small sips. Join me by sharing your reflections and by offering ways we can live the Joy in the Gospel. We begin this Sunday! You in?

Here's our Schedule for our small sips of Evangelii Gaudium for Advent

Dec. 1        2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2        9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3        14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

Dec. 4        19-24 (Church's missionary transformation)

Dec. 5        25-33 (Pastoral Activity & Conversion)

Dec. 6        34-39 (Heart of the Gospel) 

Dec. 7        40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8        46-49 (Mary)

Dec. 9        50-58 (Amid Crisis: idolatry of money)

Dec. 10    59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

Dec. 11    76-92 (Temptations of pastoral workers & Relationship in Christ)

Dec. 12    93-109 (No to spiritual worldliness)

Dec. 13    110-126 (People of God proclaim the Gospel)

Dec. 14    127-134 (Person to Person, Charisms, Culture) 

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily) 

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

Dec. 18    176-185 (Social dimensions of evangelization)

Dec. 19    186-216 (Inclusion of the poor in society)

Dec. 20    217-237 (Common Good and Peace in Society)

Dec. 21    238-258 (Social dialogue as contribution to peace)

Dec. 22    259-274 (Spirit-filled evangelizers)

Dec. 23    275-283 (Personal encounter with Christ) 

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

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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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The Communion of Saints at Work

On the 8th anniversary of his entrance into heaven, a successor pays the tomb of Blessed John Paul II a visit to ask for his intercession. Incredible to see this picture and to know that Pope Emeritus Benedict was bending his friend John Paul's ear today too... and why wouldn't they?

Can you picture Blessed John Paul II turning with that big smile of his and saying to Our Lady, "Let's go talk to your Son about the needs of two of my buddies." :)


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