What Catholic speakers influenced your life the most?

With the help of a reader, I found an interesting entry on Fallible Blogma about Catholic speakers.

This is a poll about "what Catholic speaker has influenced your life the most?  Each individual gets ten picks when they vote  (because it’s too hard to choose just one)".

This is an iinteresting project!  Go take a look!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jbalza007 says:

    Good to see you made it on the list, Father! Maybe someone in the future can make a poll on the most influential blogger too! :D

  2. Cristero says:

    My vote also goes to you, Father Z.

  3. Jack Hughes says:

    WDTPRS’s vote for Father, he only has 3%!!

  4. ljc says:

    I enjoy Dr. Peter Kreeft and Fr. Groeschel most. No surprise that Fr. Corapi is near the top, even though he took the whole year off from preaching!

  5. I found the poll via my friend Monica Ashour, who is one of the nominees–she’s an excellent speaker and teacher on Theology of the Body! I did vote for Father Z too, of course! :D

  6. shoofoolatte says:

    I must be really out of it. I didn’t see any of my favorite Catholic speakers on the list, and the only one I recognized was Fr. Z! So that’s who I voted for, even though I have never heard him speak.

  7. Westie says:

    With all due love and respect to Fr. Z and the other wonderful choices in the poll, I have to question anyone who doesn’t vote for Mary Ann Glendon after the courageous stand she took earlier this year.

  8. Frank H says:

    They must employ more robust technology than the CincyMom’s poll, if you catch my drift. ;-)

    Shoofoolatte, you should download some (or all) of Father Z’s podcasts. They demonstrate his verbal presentation skills, which are most entertaining and educational – much like his blog!

  9. jbalza007 says:

    Fr. Z now has 8% (126 Votes). Let’s move him closer to the top folks! ;)

  10. Yes, Father. Congratulations. When I see a list of this nature, I am reminded of a diamond. Each facet (speaker/writer) represents a different aspect of Catholicism. I don’t see a WHOLE and this is reflected in the fact of the multi crises in the Church today. Everyone uses the Jane Fonda defense she offered to Dick Cavett when she returned from North Vietnam:”How can I be wrong, I mean so well?”

  11. Dubya Ay-See says:

    Fr. John Hardon, SJ, on tape back in the ’90’s. I actually got to meet him once, sat down for dinner with him when he gave a retreat at my parish. He’s been dead for nearly 10 years, but his work, in particular his recordings, are still important.

  12. ThomasL says:

    Obviously Father Z. is up there, but I’ve also come to really enjoy Father Robert Barron’s insight from Word on Fire. He does a very good job of taking Catholic perspective given the cultural context. I can’t wait for the Catholicism project to be completed.

  13. Allan S. says:

    I had only ever heard of four on the list, and voted for them.

  14. trad catholic mom says:

    Boy I wish those has been in alphabetical order would have been much easier to find my choices.


  15. Mitchell NY says:

    My vote goes to you Father as well, and also Bishop Rifan, who after last June’s Pontifical Mass, EF in NYC I was impacted by his sermon and when he said “We Catholics ARE the religion of Love”. It moved me deeply…I felt so proud to be part of that. I will never forget it.

  16. Folks: Thanks for the votes. But if you vote for me, vote for me because of the PODCAzTs or because you have heard me somewhere and it made a difference. Don’t vote for me just… because. ‘kay?

  17. Bruce says:

    My Top Five:

    Dr. Peter Kreeft
    Fr. Corapi
    Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
    Patrick Madrid
    Fr. Groeschel

  18. Fr. John Corapi.

    Not so much for what he said, which is always superb, but for who he is: an undeniably masculine Christian man and priest.

  19. Henry Belton says:


    John Paul II

    Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

    CS Lewis (not quite, but almost Catholic – due perhaps to his “Uslterior” motives)

  20. JennyZ says:

    Fr. Corapi, without a doubt… Catholic Radio in general had a huge impact on me when I was thinking of converting, but Fr. Corapi’s daily show really spoke to my heart.

  21. RichR says:

    Michael Davies. No question.

  22. introibo says:

    They should list Dr. William Marra

  23. Sid says:

    Groeschel, whom I’ve heard also in person, and Fr.Z

  24. Briangar21 says:

    J Glenn Murray
    Ray East
    Paul Turner
    Edward Foley
    Joan Chittister
    Kathleen Hilkert

    None of them on the list…hmmm

  25. Briangar21 says:

    Oh, and Jack Jezreel.

  26. worm says:

    The poll needs to include speakers you would only hear in recording. No question who my #1 would be, Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

  27. BLC says:

    I voted for Fr Z and Thomas Woods!

  28. Humilitas says:

    Over the years, I have enjoyed listening to:
    Dr. William Marra
    Fr. Vincent Micelli, SJ
    Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
    I guess you can tell that I go way back in time.
    And Or Course, Fr. Z.

  29. ThomasM says:

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen is at the top of my list (I’d older than most of you). But there are many other fine Catholic speakers, many of whom have been noted here. Tom

  30. irishgirl says:

    I’ve seen in person:

    Fr. Groschel [three times]
    Fr. Corapi [twice]
    Fr. Stan Fortuna [once]
    Pope John Paul II [three times as Pope, once as Cardinal]

    I have yet to see Fr. Z ‘in the flesh’…

  31. Supertradmom says:

    Pope Benedict XVI
    Father Corapi
    And, via print online, Father Z
    Fulton J. Sheen, if one gone is a valid vote

  32. Girgadis says:

    I view influence as getting someone to think differently about a formerly-held view and act upon it. Fathers Corapi, Groeschel and Z would have to be at the top of my list, at least as it concerns those who speak outside of parish ministry. I was blessed to see Father Groeschel twice in the flesh, once completely by surprise. We were at St Patrick’s Cathedral last winter on the day after Christmas and there he was, seated by the Creche, with hordes of children waiting to speak to him.

  33. Jim of Bowie says:

    I voted for the top four, but I’m surprised Fr. Barron isn’t getting more votes. His videos are great. I especially enjoy his movie reviews and his Catholicism project looks to be outstanding. I think readers of this blog would enjoy his work. Try him at http://www.wordonfire.org/

  34. Dave N. says:

    Surprised a number of “lightweights” are so popular. Of course some great “heavy hitters” too! :)

  35. mgseamanjr says:

    Fr. Jozo Zovko, OFM
    Fr. Slavko Barbaric, OFM (wonderful author)
    Fr. John Corapi, SOLT

    Those are the top three but these others need also to be given credit.

    Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ
    Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR
    Pope John Paul II
    Pope Benedict XVI (mostly as Cardinal)

  36. JosephMary says:

    If you have ever heard Dr. Alice von Hildebrand speak, you would vote for her as one of your top 10 as I did.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually, none. I don’t understand the old Catholic concept of “talks” very well. I’m not a cradle Catholic, though.

    For me, it was BOOKS, particularly the Scriptures (I especially love the book of Genesis) and books about saints, including Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Teresa of Avila. They were able to speak to me in a way no contemporary speaker could. I still love them.

  38. “I have to question anyone who doesn’t vote for Mary Ann Glendon after the courageous stand she took earlier this year.”

    “No question who my #1 would be, Archbishop Fulton Sheen.”

    Well, I’ve never heard Mary Ann Glendon speak, let alone can I say she has influenced my life, so I didn’t vote for her. But yes, that was a gutsy thing she did. I did not see Bishop Sheen on the list (and I’m old enough to have watched his show), but I have been inspired by the next best thing; Father Franklyn McAfee, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He has a similar gift for oratory, not to mention the same indefatigable Irish wit, including what they lovingly call “the gift of gab.” (I am quite safe in going public with this, as he is probably reading this now, and is quite aware of my opinion in this matter.)

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    Now, one of my favorite speakers is Fr. Groeschel.

  40. Sean says:

    Dr. Bergsma ftw!

  41. Thomas S says:

    A lot of names simply don’t belong on the list of choices. They may be faithful Catholics and competent catechists, but I don’t see how they qualify as “speakers.”

    That being said, vote Prof. Kreeft!

  42. ssoldie says:

    It wasn’t so much the speaker, but what that speaker said. I guess I would have to say a priest by the name of Fr. Fader, he gave adult inquiry classes back in 1952, and Bishop Sheen, Fr. J Dolsina,(parish priest) Fr Corapi, Mother Theresa, and Mother Angelica. These were the one’s I heard and have had such an influnce on my Catholic faith. Quite simple really.

  43. mgseamanjr says:

    Prof. Peter Kreeft, with whom I am familiar only in that I know he teaches at Boston College (I also have read some of his work), has been mentioned perhaps more than anyone on this list. Does he have CDs available? How are so many people familiar with his teaching, or are those who voted for him his former students?

  44. paxchristi says:

    Rosalind Moss is a most incredible speaker. I never fail to be lifted up by her depth of knowledge and sheer enthusiasm. It is a joy to see the Catholic faith through her Jewish/Catholic eyes.

    But where is Sr. Ann Shields on the list? For me, after Hahn (both of them), Corapi, Kreeft and Moss, comes Sr. Ann Shields whose gentle wisdom and intensity have inspired many.

    BTW – for mgseamanjr you can go to Peter Kreeft’s website – peterkreeft.com – and listen to (or download) dozens of his talks.

  45. Charivari Rob says:

    What Catholic speaker has influenced my life the most?

    That’s tough. Interesting that the blogger changes from one question to another in the course of the article (“most influence” and “favorite”).

    Leaving out Popes and bishops, as the blogger said? Okay. I have only heard directly a small portion of the many things that Popes and Bishops have said that nonetheless have had a great and direct influence on my life.

    I would probably argue for at least 10 parish priests I have known. For good or ill (mostly good, D.G.) their words (in and out of Mass) have done so much more to shape me than the handful of convention-circuit dinner speakers I have heard.

    The candidates list does seem to imply circuit speakers and traveling preachers, though, so…

    I’ve heard a few circuit speakers/preachers/retreat leaders/revivalists. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t on the candidate list. (From the list), I have heard Scott Hahn and Father Corapi in person, and they can be pretty good. The same event at which I heard them, however, I also heard Father Raniero Cantalamessa (OFM Cap), the preacher to the Papal Household. Excellent.

  46. robtbrown says:

    John Senior influenced me the most.

    At the Angelicum my mentor was Fr Felice Lagutaine. Other OP profs who influenced me there were Frs Dalmazio Mongillo and Francois von Gunten.

    And of course Fr Reginald Foster with his love of St Augustine and St Leo Magnus. Latin is his Beatrice.

  47. AndyMo says:

    I know he’s not popular nowadays, but hearing Christopher West changed my life.

    In hindsight I know that he’s a bit off on a few things, but his enthusiasm and clarity in the Church’s teaching was positively inspiring.

  48. Bruce says:

    You can go to Peter Kreeft’s website (http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio.htm) and listen to some of his lectures. You won’t be dissapointed, they are excellent. I reccommend everyone here listen to:

    #9 Women and the Priesthood — Why “only boys can be the daddies”

  49. Thomas S says:


    I don’t know about the others who have mentioned Kreeft, but he was my professor for numerous classes at BC. Bruce beat me to the punch in providing his website, but I will add that there is also a section that gives his schedule for talks. If he’s ever addressing a group in your area, I strongly suggest you avail yourself of the opportunity.

    He’s also got his first novel (in the works for 20 years) coming out soon, AN OCEAN FULL OF ANGELS.

  50. mpm says:


    Re: Christopher West. I think we need to be careful in speaking about him “being off”. As I have read them, the critiques relate more to the way or style of his presentations, and that only in some cases, not to his orthodoxy, commitment, or zeal for souls. As I understand it, the criticisms have got him thinking, which is all any one can ask, and I wish him well.

    And re: “Theology of the Body”. I have meditated Pope John Paul’s catechetics since day one. I have been appalled by the original translations (which often in English, said the exact opposite of what he was saying in Italian). The new (2006) translation is superb, and has many other useful features (such as its Introduction and the excellent Index). As the editor points out there, in the mind of JPII, he did not think of his presentation as THE theology of the body, but rather as A CONTRIBUTION TO the theology of the body, which he viewed as a large subset of what is frequently called “Christian anthropology”.

  51. Tom A. says:

    Jesus Christ, the first Catholic and High Priest of Holy Mother Church.

  52. mfg says:

    Sorry, can’t agree with the Christopher West pick based upon subject matter, presentation and heavy handedness. Also, I watched (on EWTN) Scott Hahn make his usual long winded, too enthusiastic by half, compelling case for the Holy Spirit being the “feminine” with the encouragement of the easily impressed priest (from Steubenville?) who sits at his right hand. Sorry, don’t know his name. I’m not buying it! This traditional Catholic voted for Fr. Z based on his podcasts. Just a glance at the lineup reveals the paucity of speakers available now as compared with those of pre Vat LL incuding Bishop Sheen and William F. Buckley and incidentally almost every parish had one who was clearly superior.

  53. nemo says:

    Fr. Corapi on the TV, but in person Fr. James Fryar, FSSP and Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP

  54. Lori Ehrman says:

    I voted and three of my ten are in the top four spots. I didn’t vote for Scott Hahn.

  55. campusdan says:


  56. Steve Girone says:

    Thomas Rutkoski of Gospa Missions.

  57. Hey all! I enjoyed all of the great comments!

    We’ve actually expanded the Catholic Speaker poll into “Support a Catholic Speaker Month” in an effort to give some wide-spread support to so many great Catholic speakers.

    Our goal is to have a Catholic blog paired up with each speaker. So we are in need of LOTS of Catholic bloggers willing to write a short post supporting a speaker. In the end we’ll have 100 Catholic blogs writing about 100 Catholic speakers this month – all linked up together. It will be a cool way to support a lot of Catholic speakers and what they are doing while also promoting Catholic bloggers.

    Fr. Z – I hope you’ll participate by writing about one of the speakers. And anyone else out there…if you have a Catholic blog or know somebody who does – WE NEED YOU! Thanks for the support, all. And thanks for the great blog, Fr. Z! God bless.

    Link to Support a Catholic Speaker Month: http://www.fallibleblogma.com/index.php/support-a-catholic-speaker-month-and-favorite-catholic-speaker-2009-results/

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