CHAPIN—Tim Staples is on a mission to make everyone more aware of their faith so they can stand up for their beliefs in what he describes as a post-Christian culture, hostile to the value of life itself.
Staples is director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers, a lay organization dedicated to defending and supporting the faith.
He was raised a Southern Baptist and later joined the evangelical Assemblies of God while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. One day, a fellow Marine challenged him to learn about the Catholic Church.
Staples started a two-year course of study and converted.
He will visit Our Lady of the Lake Church in Chapin Sept. 19-21 to give a series of talks for adults, teens and families.
In a recent interview with The Miscellany, Staples said in his 16 years at Catholic Answers, there has been a change in the most pressing questions people have about the faith.
“When I started there was a heavy demand for Biblical apologetics,” he said. “I was answering questions about why we believe and do the things we do in light of sacred Scripture. People were concerned about defending the faith against fundamentalists and evangelicals who were drawing Catholics away from the faith.
“Recently, there are more questions about dealing with a growing atheist and agnostic population. Christianity is really not as important in our culture as it once was.”
Staples said cultural values in the United States have declined severely since the 1973 passage of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.
As a result, Staples said he hears from more people wondering how Catholics should engage in the political arena, especially on topics such as abortion. He said one of the talks he will give in Chapin, “The Five Non-Negotiables,” deals with issues that church teachings say committed Catholics cannot support, including abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.
Two of his talks, “Catholic Boot Camp” and “Camels, Leather Jackets & Limburger Cheese,” will be geared toward teens and families with children.
“Boot Camp,” he said, will address Catholic teaching on sexual morality, dating, marriage and other concerns, while “Camels” will focus on people who became saints at young ages.
“It’s a challenge to young people to view themselves not as the culture views them, but through God’s eyes,” Staples said. “Young Catholics today are very hungry, they’re asking the basic questions because many of them are often receiving messages contrary to the faith. They encounter professors and other people who don’t believe in God, or who have a very negative opinion of the Catholic faith.”
Staples said Southern Catholics may be especially prepared to defend their faith against a secular culture because they’ve had to handle being in the minority.
“The church in the south has always been small but strong because of the constant challenges from Southern Baptists and Pentecostals,” he said. “Now, it’s a culture-wide challenge.”
Staples encourages the faithful to form and join prayer groups, rosary groups, and Bible study groups as a way to learn and support each other. This is especially useful, he said, in small parishes and communities where there might not be many Catholics.
“If you don’t have something going on in your area, then start something,” he said. “Maybe if you can’t do a Bible study, you can get a couple of folks together at the house to do a rosary. Get something started and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.”
Nurturing and building community is the key to keeping the faith vibrant because people need to be involved with their faith on a daily basis, he said.
“With so many Catholics young and old, they seem to have this idea that they can go to Mass once a week, punch their ticket and that’s all they need,” he said. “Then they find themselves out in a world that hates their values. We need each other, we’re powerless against the world without each other… We’re members of a body. We need to get together during the week to pray together, because then when we come together on Sunday we come as Christians already united and fortified to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.”
Deacon Greg Weigold, a member of Our Lady of the Lake, said his family heard Staples talk at a conference in Florida nine years ago.
“My sons were in seventh and eighth grade at the time, and they still talk about it and how much he affected them,” Deacon Weigold said. “That told me there’s something special about what he does. He doesn’t speak above everybody, and he’s an easy person to listen to. We’re really hoping his talks will light a fire under people and get them excited about their faith.”