Brian Holdsworth says Church's means of communication should do justice to the beauty of the faith.

WCR PHOTO | THANDIWE KONGUAVI

Brian Holdsworth says Church's means of communication should do justice to the beauty of the faith.

January 25, 2016
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Brian Holdsworth was born in 1982, which makes him a millennial. In typical millennial fashion, when asked to speak at a recent prayer breakfast, he googled: "How to do public speaking." He opened his keynote address with a joke he found on Google.

Like a good millennial, in this age of obsession with sharing information, he is anxious to share what is important to him, which has led him down the path of evangelization.

Millennials are known for discovering things they find interesting, cute or funny, and sharing them with each other online. Above all, Holdsworth notes, they seem to love sharing compelling stories about their own lives.

He was sincerely delighted by an unselfish act of kindness recounted by a friend on Facebook. The friend was dreading going into the bitter cold to clear a major pile of snow when several teenage boys pulled up in a pickup truck, reached back for a handful of shovels and cleared his driveway without saying a word before moving on to the next house.

"When something amazing happens to us, we want to tell everyone about it," he said Jan. 9 at the monthly charismatic prayer breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre.

But for the young Catholic convert, no good deed can compare to the creator of the universe deciding to reduce himself to suffer and die to give us the hope of a life surrounded by happiness and love.

"If we're so eager to tell tales of good deeds then we ought to be yelling this one from the rooftops. So why aren't we?"

Holdsworth has devoted his work as a visual communicator and graphic designer to help the Church proclaim its message in ways that could resonate with the outside world and culture.

Proclaiming the kingdom is not merely about the message, he said. It is also about the way we package the message.

AMAZING TRADITION

Holdsworth has observed that this is something the Church has shown an amazing understanding of in her history, as she has used fine art, architecture, music and liturgy to help people absorb the Gospel.

But at some point, we seem to have lost our sense of how to do this. If we take seriously our call to mission, we have to reclaim that ability and become much better in presenting the Gospel to the world, he said.

"How many parish websites have you seen that actually communicate the beauty of our faith visually? How many posters or brochures or publications have you seen that do justice to the message?" he asked.

"We don't invest enough time, money or energy into the way we present ourselves to the outside world."

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Effective communication is at the heart of the mission of evangelization, said Holdsworth. If we do not communicate well then we're not evangelizing well. Effective communication requires good attention to our visual brand.

This concern is what led Holdsworth to quit his job at a marketing agency and start this own company, Holds Worth Design.

As creative director of the small graphic design and web design studio in Edmonton, his mandate is to promote the use of strategic communication and effective branding and packaging of timeless truths through modern means.

With social media, the platform for the witness is never ceasing, he said.

APPEALING PRESENTATION

"Whether it is the appealingly presented meal just served at a restaurant or an awestruck and grateful account of the surprise gesture of a good Samaritan shoveling your driveway, people recount seemingly mundane things they did, things that happened to them and things they saw all the time."

The potency of a witness is an important key to Holdsworth, and played a large role in his own conversion.

In the year after he graduated high school, it was the gentle, kind witness of a friend's mother at a Bible study that led him to seek God.

He wanted her peace, her self-confidence and her joy. "The more I considered that, the more I was confronted with the fact that all of these things stemmed from her faith," he said.

It did not take long before he resolved to become a follower of Jesus. He started praying, reading the Bible and attending church.

FAMILY WITNESS

Now Brian and his wife Carolyn, also a convert, witness through their lives. The young couple often draws stares due to their growing brood of children: Clare, 6, Madeline, 5, James, 2, and Elanor, 10 months. Another child is on the way.

"It is a cross that converts and redeems those who witness it," he said.

In spite of constant criticism of their insistence of living out their vocation of parenthood entirely faithful and dependent upon their Catholic identity, they are witnessing the conversion of those same critics who see their love, joy, faith and hope.

It is not surprising that after hearing Holdsworth speak, someone walked up to him to ask for his autograph.

He is unimposing, there is nothing tragic or remarkable about his personal testimony, but he is mastering the art of spreading the Gospel with his life and with the tools that resonate with this generation.