7 Prominent Lay Catholics on People They Admire

An appreciation of St. Paul, Benedict XVI, Father John Hardon, Mother Assumpta Long and others.

Jan Lievens, “The Apostle Paul,” c. 1628
Jan Lievens, “The Apostle Paul,” c. 1628 (photo: Public Domain)

I spoke to seven prominent lay Catholics in the U.S., each active in promoting their faith in different aspects of society, asking them to talk about people they admired.


Jim Caviezelactor

St. Paul has a remarkable story. He went from being the ISIS of his day to becoming a leader in the Church. Paul had many great talents, but before his conversion, he didn’t use those talents for God’s purpose. He didn’t wake up one day, for example, and discover he was great at preaching. That was a talent he’d always had, and after encountering Christ on the road to Damascus, put it into his service … Paul is also a reminder to us that we’re not merely the sum of our worst actions. We all can have a value and worth as adopted sons and daughters of Christ.


Sohrab AhmariNew York City journalist and convert

Pope Benedict XVI [played an important role in my conversion to Catholicism]. I read his book Jesus of Nazareth. I didn’t understand it all, but it did demonstrate that you can be intelligent and use reason and still accept the claims of faith and biblical religion. In Benedict’s telling, the story of Christ is really just one narrative spanning the Old and the New Testaments, with God drawing ever nearer to His creation.

He also makes a persuasive case that the witness of the four Evangelists is very credible, even though they didn’t use tape recorders or journalist’s notes.


Donna Steichenauthor and journalist

I think when people look back on our troubled times, they’ll see that there have been some really extraordinary people in the Church. Father John Hardon was a wonderful man. He was soft-spoken and gentle, but taught the truth totally faithfully as the Church teaches it. The fact that many of his colleagues didn’t care for him never made a bit of difference.

Father Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International, was an extraordinary man. He spoke the truth, and was a brilliant organizer and strategist. He knew how movements work and how to organize them. He spread the pro-life message throughout the world.

Mother Angelica is a marvel. She is not an academic, but a genuine, believing Catholic. She was able to accomplish what the bishops could not. They tried to establish their inoffensive little television network and could never get it off the ground. With her sisters she launched EWTN, which has been a huge success.

I also admire Mother Assumpta Long, foundress of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist; Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity; Sister Jeanne Therese Condon, foundress of Minnesota’s LifeCare Centers, a chain of storefront pregnancy clinics; and Sister Michaela Fuchs, a French teacher from Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Sister Michaela never gave up her habit, or her orthodoxy, but simply lived all her life as the faithful Catholic nun she was when she began.


Tim BuschCatholic businessman and philanthropist

Charles Koch is not Catholic, but he’s fascinated by the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding economics and society. He believes that our country was founded on principles consistent with Catholic social teaching, and that we have the system that will lead to the greatest prosperity for all mankind.

I’ve learned a lot from the Koch family. They believe that mankind can prosper when you give people opportunities and a chance to control their own destiny. I think that people who fear them don’t understand them. Charles Koch wrote a book, Good Profit, which I believe is very consistent with Catholic social teaching.


George Schwartzfounder, chairman and CEO of Schwartz Investment Counsel, Inc., which manages Ave Maria Mutual Funds

Tom Monaghan is a wonderful individual, a devout Catholic and strongly pro-life. He has largely given away his fortune, establishing schools such as Ave Maria University and Ave Maria School of Law, and several Catholic charities. He sold his Domino’s Pizza business for a billion dollars, and has since devoted his life and fortune to the Church.

He has had a profound impact on my life and career. He has also had a positive impact on me morally.


Monica Migliorino Millerpro-life activist

Certainly Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago is my mentor. In defending life, he’s been fearless and willing to do the hard things to confront the abortion practice. He’s always called a spade a spade, saying that abortion is murder and abortionists are committing an act of murder.

Father Paul Marx (1920-2010), founder of Human Life International, was outstanding, as is Judy Brown of the American Life League. Father Norm Weslin (1930-2012) founder of The Lambs of Christ, who would also block the doors to abortion clinics, was a great man. I’m impressed by Joan Andrews Bell, who is prominently featured in my book Abandoned, and also Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.


Terry Barberfounder of multiple Catholic evangelization apostolates, including St. Joseph Communications, and co-host of The Jesse & Terry Show

[As I say when engaging in evangelism,] people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. One of my favorite evangelists is Scott Hahn. He did the forward for my book, How to Share your Faith with Anyone: a Practical Manual of Catholic Evangelization. He taught me how to befriend people before you share the Faith. You have to establish a rapport. Scott has the ability to talk to someone on the opposing side of an issue, make the counterargument, but keep it a friendly conversation.

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