Transcript of CS#124: Ken Ogorek The Gospel Truth

Transcript of Interview with Ken Ogorek about The Gospel Truth. This interview and others like it can be found at

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

The Gospel Truth at The Catholic Company.


Chris Cash: This is the Catholic Spotlight, the show where we talk about what’s new, cool, and exciting in the Catholic marketplace. I’m your host, Chris Cash, director of eCommerce for, your source for all your Catholic needs. Today, in the spotlight, we have Ken Ogorek. He has a great new book out, The Gospel Truth: A Lectionary-Based Catechism for Adults. Ken, welcome to the show!

Ken: It’s good to be here, Chris. God bless you and all your listeners.

Chris: Well, thank you very much. We all certainly appreciate having that little blessing out on us. Now, you work with the Diocese of Indianapolis, correct?

Ken: That’s correct. They call me the director of catechesis, Chris.

Chris: They call you that but what do you really do?

Ken: Yeah, well it’s funny, I say that because oftentimes, job titles don’t always give folks a complete picture of what folks do. Knowing that I don’t make a significant move without running it past Archbishop Daniel, I am a person who he has asked to think about evangelization and catechesis from cradle to grave in almost every formal setting and to try to bring some orchestration to all that activity. We have 151 parishes and missions, each of which ought to have a comprehensive cradle to grave evangelization and catechetical effort going on. We have 60 elementary schools, 11 high schools, 3 Catholic colleges and universities, also all the public college and university campuses that need to have some sort of Catholic presence there so sometimes my involvement is a little less direct. For example, in youth ministry, we certainly have a director of youth ministry but because evangelization and catechesis are two of the eight components of comprehensive ministry with the youth, I work real closely with our director of youth ministry. Other times my involvement is more direct mostly with the parish programs. I help hire the folks who run parish catechetical programs and really work with them real closely, Chris.

Chris: Oh, anything that has to do with hiring, that always sounds like just a fun job, right?

Ken: Well, you know there’s an old saying that personnel is policy. In other words, it’s fine to have guidelines and binders and things but at the end of the day, the people who we put in these very important positions, that makes a lot of the difference.

Chris: That’s a really good thought but we don’t want to talk about the Diocese in Indianapolis too much because we have a book that we want to talk about and I’m sure that’s what our listeners have tuned in to hear about.

Ken: Sure.

Chris: So The Gospel Truth, this isn’t your first book but it is your latest. Did you want to mention the other books?

Ken: Well actually, the only other book, full book I have out right now is called The Great Life. It’s actually, I co-edited it. It’s a collection of essays I co-edited with my friend, Mike Aquilina whom many of your listeners would be familiar with and I do have another resource coming out here soon, God willing. That’s a catechetical resource for parish youth ministry but really a lot of my attention lately has been focused on helping folks be aware of this book, The Gospel Truth.

Chris: And amazingly enough for a director of catechists, it’s catechetical.

Ken: Yeah, yeah. It’s funny. Some people do woodworking. Some people have other sorts of hobbies. I’m the sort of person who is so immersed and interested in evangelization and catechesis that when I’m not doing the work I’m blessed with doing and then that is my work for Archbishop Daniel, a lot of my down time, if you want to call it that is really uptime. I’m usually writing about evangelization catechesis or speaking about evangelization catechesis and this book is a good example of that.

Chris: Well very good. Now, what got you involved in catechesis in the first place and led you to the point of saying that we really need this kind of a book, that there is this hole in the literature that needs to be filled here?

Ken: Well, as far as my own involvement in catechesis, I think my experience has been like a lot of folks listening, the more we learn and grow in our Catholic faith, in our relationship with God and in our love of the church, we just have a desire to share that with other folks and a few years back, I decided that teaching high school religion at a Catholic high school, of course would be a good outlet for me to do that so I prepared myself academically to do that. The little bit I know that I was also preparing myself to do the work that I do now, at least academically and so as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for sharing our Catholic faith. I do have a soft spot in my heart for youth and young adults which you know, again I mentioned one of the writing projects I have going on right now is targeted towards the youth but eventually after teaching for a few years and that was in the great diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the time where my wife hails from. He was Bishop Wuerl back then. He’s now Archbishop Wuerl but Bishop Wuerl in Pittsburgh through his vicar for education invited me into administration and as they say, the rest is history. Now what’s interesting, Chris, is that as I became more and more familiar with all of the catechetical resources that are available out there, I did see a bit of a void. On the one hand, I saw a lot of resources that are tied to the Lectionary. That would be the cycle of readings that Catholics all over the world hear at Mass week in and week out. So I saw Lectionary-related materials. I also saw materials that claim to be comprehensive and systematic in their overview of the faith, in other words, appropriately complete but I really didn’t see anything out there that really blended those two that used the Lectionary as a basis but really was objectively comprehensive. I mean, it’s easy to use a word like comprehensive but I took some steps in writing this book to make sure that it really is a complete overview of the faith, at least in an introductory level.

Chris: So creating an overview of the faith, what’s the general audience that you’re looking to write this book for?

Ken: Well it’s interesting Chris, I wrote this book for adults in general, okay? I really had parents especially in mind. In fact, the original subtitle of the book was A Lectionary-based Catechism for Parents and Other Adults but my editor and I really realized that this book has a very broad appeal and we didn’t want people to think that it was just for parents and to give you a good example, I did not write this for priests, for homily preparation. I mean, far be it for me to suggest to any homilist what he should read to make his homilies better but Archbishop Wuerl, that’s one of the first things he picked up on when he read my manuscript and by the way, he was kind enough to offer a foreword for the book so he recommended this book which is really for adults in general and a lot of parents are using the book. He recommended it for clergy to help them in the preparation of their homilies and even though I would never do that, I’m not going to argue with Archbishop Wuerl if he recommends it. So it’s interesting, a lot of different categories of adults are really using this book which is gratifying for me because that’s why you write things.

Chris: Now a lot of people think of these kind of catechetical books as being rather dry. How do you approach this in a way to keep people from glazing over and saying, “Just another catechetical book”?

Ken: Oh yeah, well I tend to think that some of the best writing and speaking is really pretty simple and that’s the approach I took with this book. First of all, your listeners should know that that the book contains the entire three-year cycle of Sunday Gospel readings so they don’t have to be flipping through their bible or a Lectionary which most people don’t have any way. So the Gospels themselves certainly are not dry and each week’s installment in this book, it starts with the Sunday Gospel reading. And then what I did was I really…to keep it simple, I only covered two points of doctrine each week and the writing is really pretty conversational. This is not a highfalutin academic book. It’s pretty simple but it really provides people with raw material for reflection and really application to their everyday life so I haven’t had any complaints about the book being dry, let’s put it that way. It seems to be engaging people which again is what I was hoping for.

Chris: Now what did you find the most challenging part of putting together this book?

Ken: Well you know, it’s interesting Chris, in some ways, this book was like putting a puzzle together because what I did is, I took the three-year cycle of Sunday Gospel readings which is around 150 readings give or take and then I took, a lot of your listeners may not be aware of this, but our American bishops to their great credit, they have a process set up that helps determine what’s called doctrinal conformity with the catechism of the Catholic Church and this is for books and series of books that are used in catechesis, you know, the textbooks for example that a kid might use in a Catholic elementary school and they have this checklist of over 300 items that are directly out of the catechism of the Catholic Church. They’re handpicked in-brief items that are at the end of each section of the catechism of the Catholic Church. So what I did is I sat down and I started to correlate that three-year cycle of Sunday Gospel readings with this 300 or so items on this checklist and I wouldn’t say it was difficult necessarily but it certainly wasn’t unpleasant but it was, in many ways, like putting a puzzle together. I would take a Gospel reading and I would look at all of those items and say, “Okay, which two items really seem to connect in a nice way with this Gospel reading?” And that’s why I can honestly say that this is an objectively comprehensive overview of the faith because each and every one of those items on that checklist is included in the book. They’re actually quoted verbatim because they are very brief excerpts so you’ve got the Gospel readings, you’ve got very brief quotes from the catechism of the Catholic Church itself, and then you’ve got a very conversational way of setting all that up and helping people see those connections.

Chris: Well, we’re going to take a short break here to hear from our sponsor but we’ll be right back to hear more from Ken Ogorek. This is the Catholic Spotlight.

Chris: And we’re back on the Catholic Spotlight with Ken Ogorek, author of The Gospel Truth: A Lectionary-Based Catechism for Adults. So when you started putting this project together, what part of the book did you find to be the most exciting and energizing for you?

Ken: Well, you know, I started…I wrote the book more or less in order starting with the season of Advent in year A. There are three years to our cycle of Sunday readings, A, B, and C so I guess, oftentimes first impressions are lasting so I do…when I think back on writing the book, I think about those Advent readings and really, it’s interesting oftentimes ordinary time…no one aspect of ordinary time tends to stand out in my mind at least. It’s a great time because it helps us acquaint ourselves with Jesus and the teaching of the church but I guess maybe the things that stand out in my mind about writing the book are more of those seasons, those special times of the year, Advent, Easter, Lent, and so forth.

Chris: And what’s your favorite season?

Ken: Oh gosh, you know, my own kids and by the way, my bride of 17 years and I have three kids under the age of 13 and you know kids are oftentimes they’re interested in what’s your favorite this or what’s your favorite that so I oftentimes joke around with my own kids that dad, remember I have a hard time picking favorite things. I don’t really have a lot of favorites. I just appreciate everything I have so I’m going to take the easy way out on that one, Chris and just say that I just…just as I love all four seasons of the calendar year, I really do think each of the seasons and solemnities and feasts of the liturgical year are beautiful in their own way because they kind of…it’s like a diamond that has many facets. Really I think the way the church lays the year out for us, and the readings, it just helps us appreciate the beauty of God and truth from just several different angles and it’s beautiful from every angle.

Chris: Now, do you do much speaking?

Ken: As a matter of fact, I do. Really, over the past few years especially, that’s really kind of cranked up several notches so I do enjoy speaking and many folks have been kind enough to invite me to speak. I’ve spoken at the Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference and actually a few other smaller men’s conferences and days of reflections and so forth. I’ve given talks for several dioceses actually throughout the country whether it would be for groups of their teachers or catechists or just a general audience on one topic or another so yeah, and actually, anyone who would be interested in learning a little bit more about that in terms of contacting me and setting up a talk, I do have a…I have a very simple website set up because I do have a fulltime job and then so forth but my website, it’s real simple. It’s just my name which Ken Ogorek. It’s so Ken is simply K-E-N and my last name isn’t as hard as it might sound at first, Ogorek is simply O-G-O-R-E-K. So if folks want a little contact info for me in terms of speaking, they can simply go to my website

Chris: Now do you have any other writing projects on the table right now?

Ken: Well really the main one I mentioned earlier is this…it’s a catechetical resource specifically designed for parish youth ministry although I think it would be useful in other settings like Catholic high schools and that one should be coming out…actually the ball’s in my court. I’m doing some final referencing on it. That one should be coming out hopefully early in 2010 and really, I have a variety of other projects at various stages but it’s funny, when you’re first starting out as a writer, you propose a lot of ideas to a lot of different people and you never know which one is going to catch fire and when? So I probably have a half-a-dozen or so writing projects that when I’m ready, when I cross one off my list, I can kind of dive in to the next one. Actually, yeah, it’s funny. I have some things for adults that are in the works, some things for young adults and really an old friend of mine, a guy who I went to Catholic elementary school with, who’s a very good artist, he and I are actually talking about collaborating on a children’s book together. So I kind of run the gamut of cradle to grave, both in my job and in my writing and speaking.

Chris: And it certainly helps to keep things interesting and varied in your job.

Ken: Sure.

Chris: Kind of like my job and I do this little interview show thing on the side in the midst of all my programming and projects for the Catholic Company.

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, hey, God has blessed you with many gifts and yeah, it is nice to be able to put those to use in a variety of ways all for His Glory, huh?

Chris: Absolutely. Well, we’re running short on time. Were there any final things you wanted to share with our listeners to finish up?

Ken: Yeah, I would just say three quick things. We all want to see good catechecists so I would just encourage your listeners to pray for catechists and those in catechetical leadership. I would say that when you see good catechesis occurring in your parish or diocese, please affirm it. Take the time to maybe drop an email to your parish DRE or whoever is responsible for what you observed, just affirm good catechesis when you see it. And if you see something that seems a little odd to you or a little off base, don’t be afraid to follow up and just have a conversation with whoever is responsible for it. Oftentimes, that’s all it takes to get the catechetical effort on a better track in your parish or diocese so yeah, I think we’re all in this together and we need to support and affirm good evangelization and catechesis.

Chris: And of course, the best tool for helping to correct errors both in others and yourself, I think, is the catechism because when people are sitting there saying, “Well, you know, I think the church teaches this. You got this nice little book. You can just pull out and say well the official teachings of the church are right here and what it’s say?”

Ken: Yeah, imagine that. Imagine that. Absolutely and hopefully this book as it’s related to the catechism of the Catholic Church will really be useful for folks in hearing and appreciating the true teaching of our Catholic Church, absolutely.

Chris: Well Ken, it has been a great pleasure having you on the show and I hope that we can have you back on again sometime before too long.

Ken: I look forward to it again. God bless you, your family, and all your listeners, Chris.


Transcript of Interview with Ken Ogorek about The Gospel Truth. This interview and others like it can be found at

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

The Gospel Truth at The Catholic Company.

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