Unpacking #ReCongress Part Two: Mark Hart

Sarah Reinhard & Mark Hart chill in the Speaker’s Lounge while Lisa freaks out…

Yesterday, I shared a bit about the overall experience of getting to and being at Congress. With this post, I’ll begin sharing some of the special moments of the past few days and will invite you to “dig deeper” for more resources that will help you take in Congress.

Our first talk was scheduled for the second period on Friday, so Sarah and I agreed that after the Opening Ceremony (which you can view here) we would spend time prepping in the wonderful Speakers’ Lounge at the Convention Center (btw, huge shout outs to the volunteers who worked there all weekend!) Before I discuss what happened next, I want to share a few thoughts on the Opening Ceremony. For anyone whose only exposure to that event is what the combox on Fr. Z’s blog has to say about it, I hope you’ll pay attention. I have a good deal of respect for the work done by Fr. Zuhlsdorf and for the piety of his readers. I would like to underscore however that the Opening Ceremony is not a Mass and that those who believe it to be lacking in faith are missing out on what truly happens. To gather in prayer and song with 10,000 plus other Catholics — most volunteer catechists and others who are giving of their time and resources to learn about their faith so that they can give themselves in service to their fellow Catholics — is a true blessing. My favorite part of the ceremony was the profound speech given by Sr. Edith Prendergast. I was also genuinely moved by Archbishop Gomez’ opening remarks and the rousing ovation he received when he invited Pope Francis to come to Congress. Haters gonna hate, but until you’ve sat and prayed in that arena you don’t know what you’re missing. And if it’s not your cup of tea, please do not bash those who shared their talents and gifts to show their faith that morning.

So back to the Speakers’ Lounge, where I was minding my own business until I heard Sarah let out a “squeee!” the size of a nuclear missal warning. From across the room, she’d spotted Mark Hart, a.k.a. Life Teen’s own Bible Geek, in all his coolness. Mark is amazing in so many ways, not the least of which is his ability to convey his faith in ways which are absolutely riveting. I think it was probably the first time Sarah had met him in person, so she had to endure a bit of our “What year did you graduate from Notre Dame?” convo. We were then treated to a great conversation with Mark, who is the perfect person to spend time with when you’re as nervous as I was that morning. Sarah and Mark together were on a total roll, and I was the old lady off to the side chugging fair-trade coffee while trying to memorize the name of the extraordinary synod and the text of Pope Francis’ Letter to families.

I shared with Mark that I was nervous about some aspects of our talk (which was probably already obvious because of how stressed out I was), and Mark offered some wisdom that put things into their proper perspective for me. I may be ten years older, but he’s a hundred times wiser! And though I didn’t get to see his packed-out arena talk that day, I can say that I walked away from Congress having learned an important lesson from Mark Hart.

Since I didn’t get to see Mark’s talk, I’m sharing it here:

I’ve watched about half of it tonight and am genuinely moved by what Mark has to say about how we reach an important segment of our Church, our youth. Thank you for being a blessing to so many Mark! And go Irish!


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  • I’m so grateful you’re sharing your RE Congress experience with us here, Lisa. Thanks!

    • lisahendey

      I expect you to reciprocate by sharing your upcoming adventure!!

  • “the Opening Ceremony is not a Mass” I didn’t know that. Thanks.

    • lisahendey

      I lot of people don’t understand that. There are tons of masses every day, but that is not one of them.

  • Totally didn’t see this one before, or I would have left a nuclear-missile-sized SQUEE here.

    Because that Mark Hart guy? He’s my people!!!

    And you know, I was all braced for this stuff at Congress, but trying to be open minded. And…it was beautiful. It gives me the same sort of feeling that certain kinds of art do. Maybe they’re not what I would hang in my house (though that singing? Yes, please.), but that doesn’t mean they’re not appropriate or beautiful. Taste. There are differences.

    I feel badly that we missed one of the Masses, to be honest. Guess that means I’ll have to go back someday… 🙂

    And? Did I mention that this lady Lisa Hendey is quite da bomb? Cuz yeah.

    I am STILL laughing about that Mark Hart and Lisa Hendey back-and-forth from the Speakers Lounge. Infamy, I tell ya, INFAMY.