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The amazing 100-year-old story that inspires this modern Catholic outreach



Kyle Hamilton

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/28/22

We can learn so much from a young priest’s brave and brilliant response to anti-Catholic propaganda 121 years ago.

Picture a tent revival in the Midwest in 1901, an era of widespread anti-Catholic prejudice in a country where Catholics were, at the time, a minority.

Some unscrupulous men and women were riling up the crowd, pretending to be former priests and nuns. Their racket was traveling through the area spreading vicious lies about the Catholic Church.

One goodhearted young priest, Father John Francis Noll, was in attendance in the audience. He wanted to see what was going on at these affairs. 

Finally, he just couldn’t take it anymore. He jumped to his feet and cried, “That, sir, is a bare-faced lie!”

With a few quick and pointed questions, he poked holes in the speakers’ fraudulent testimonies. And then he invited the audience to come back the next night to hear the true story of the Catholic Church, from a real priest. 

We don’t know how many hearts were changed that night. But we know that Father Noll himself was changed. He turned to prayer, asking God how he could reach souls and support Catholics who were spread out around the country.

The fruit of his prayer was to begin publishing bulletins, pamphlets, and newspapers sharing the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith. These turned into Our Sunday Visitor, now a Catholic media powerhouse that is thriving over a century later. 

Father Noll became Archbishop Noll. His visionary approach is still guiding Our Sunday Visitor, so much so that the story above comes from Kyle Hamilton, CEO of Our Sunday Visitor.

It’s part of his OSV Talk, Archbishop Noll: A Model for Innovation

Hamilton explains how Archbishop Noll started a communication revolution in the Catholic Church across the entire United States. But even more importantly, he reveals what Catholics today can learn from his ingenious methods. 

Faced with fierce anti-Catholic sentiment, he didn’t retreat into hiding or cave in to popular opinion. Instead, Archbishop Noll stepped forward boldly to show the truth, goodness and beauty of his faith. 

What would that kind of entrepreneurial spirit look like today? OSV is answering that question in inspiring ways, and Hamilton’s OSV Talk helps us understand how. 

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