Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 16, 2009
Be a Man!
Evangelizing priest tells Catholic men they are a bunch of wimps
Fr. Larry Richards
BY PAUL MARCK
SPECIAL TO WCR
SPRUCE GROVE – Father Larry Richards knows his brand of shoot-from-the lip evangelism rubs some people the wrong way.
He is controversial. Unapologetic. Arrogant. Insulting. Funny as a standup comic. And as abrasive as sandpaper.
“My greatest gift in life is my tongue. My greatest sin in life is also my tongue. I get in trouble for things that I say,” Richards freely admits.
The loquacious priest has a nightly radio show and conducts about 38 conferences and retreats a year.
A self-professed “spiritual drill instructor,” Father Larry led the two-day Men of Integrity conference at Spruce Grove’s Holy Trinity Church last weekend, on behalf of Catholic Family Ministries.
A priest for 20 years, the 49-year-old Pittsburgh native was once thrown out of the seminary for “lack of self awareness” and his “Pollyanna” views.
Today, his bishop gets more letters about the Erie, Pa., pastor than any other priest in the diocese and Richards’ comments have made headlines – not always good ones.
One of his favourite conference musings concerns men who, if they can’t tell their wives and children that they love them, should search between their legs for their missing manhood.
“If you think that Father Larry Richards is a jerk for the rest of your life – you’re right. But if you listen to what I’ve got to say, you will be a saint,” he intones.
“My job is to convert the people who don’t think the Church is very good . . . it’s to bring people back home.”
Converted to Christ’s way at age 17 by evangelist Billy Graham, Larry Richards has devoted his life to saving souls ever since.
BLACK AND WHITE
His conservative theological perspective of Catholicism is all black and white. There are no greys. He recites loudly and without reservation: Follow the commandments, seek forgiveness for your sins and live a saintly life. Or make up your own rules and spend eternity in hell.
Richards specializes in men’s conferences because he believes men are influential natural leaders, yet more difficult persuading to follow God’s way than women and children.
Despite the intensity of his conference sessions, Father Larry expects people will find clarity in his message and absorb his main points.
“We need to be people of prayer. We have to be men, women, children of prayer. We need to be in this relationship with God so he can lead us. Then we’ve got to be people of love, so we can lay down our lives for others.
“If we just do these two things, then we become holy, and then we become a changed world because this is what the world needs most: To pray and love.”
He has recently written a book and Father Larry has a charitable foundation that can be found at: www.thereasonforourhope.org.
Father Larry’s lively conference banter meanders seamlessly between gut-punch reality and sidesplitting humour.
He jokingly says the theme song in Hades is the old Frank Sinatra standard: (I Did It) My Way.