Chris is a Catholic speaker, musician, and author who spends his days travelling across the country, giving people hope by helping them draw closer to Christ. He inspires people everywhere he goes, and from them, he draws encouragement and motivation to grow his ministry.
He’s partnering with Chalice to speak at the Catholic Educators’ Conference in Vancouver, B.C. But what’s the story of Chris? What’s going on behind that smiling face? We sat down for a Q&A with Chris to get to know the real him.
1. Hi Chris! Tell us about your faith background.
I grew up in a Catholic family. For most of my youth, we attended Mass regularly and were involved in church activities. We did all the right things, but faith was more about discipline than a relationship. It wasn’t until my teen years that our family began to ‘know’ Jesus in a real way.
2. What about your conversion experience?
I had a profound transformative experience at a prayer service at our parish that ignited my faith life. Through prayer ministry and a time of worship, I truly began a personal relationship with God and He kickstarted my faith journey. It was at a time in my life when I was just going through the motions in my faith. Through a struggle I had with a learning disability, God softened my heart to encounter Him. During that evening’s prayer ministry some 20 years ago, with a heart of skepticism and struggle, I asked God to heal me and reveal Himself to me. And even though His healing wasn’t instantaneous, I had His presence in my life in a transformative way.
3. Where did you work before moving into ministry?
I went to college for Internet Technologies (computer programming, web design, etc.) and worked in that field for seven years. During that time, I was also getting into songwriting, and recording my first album. God was opening doors, allowing my songs to be played on Christian radio, and [giving me] opportunities to minister in predominantly Protestant communities (early on) through praise and worship music. It was several years later that my ministry would focus on Catholic parishes primarily.
4. How did you feel when you decided to pursue full-time ministry?
While I was working my ‘real’ job full-time Monday-Friday, I would also be travelling (mostly on weekends). My wife and I were starting to have children and we realized that this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable (or healthy). We began to discern God’s call into a life of full-time ministry. It took several years of prayer and discernment (and moments of fear and tears haha), but God’s call became abundantly clear to us. We decided I was going to ask my boss for a six-month leave of absence, and if he said yes, that would be God’s sign that He wants us to pursue a ministry life.
I remember the day I walked into my boss’s office and made the request. He simply laughed at me and said ‘no’. We thought that was the answer for a couple of weeks… until we found out my wife was pregnant with our third child and I was going to be able to take nine months of parental leave (unpaid) and I could use that time to begin full-time ministry. It was like God wanted to test our hearts to see if we were willing to follow Him, no matter what the answer was. It’s been almost ten years and we haven’t looked back since! God is good.
5. What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been to through your work?
I’m not sure I can name just one. Three incredible places come to mind. The first was being able to perform after a Toronto Raptor’s game at the Air Canada Centre for a gospel concert.
The second was performing for 25,000 people at the March for Life in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, witnessing the peaceful advocacy of the helpless by so many Christians.
The third was a mission trip my wife and I had the opportunity to go on to the Dominican Republic to be able to visit one of the little girls we sponsor as a family and to witness their joy in the faith, despite having so little (by the world’s standards). In all of these experiences, it’s made clear that God is at work across the globe in people’s lives in incredible ways!
6. How did you get connected with Chalice president, Father Patrick Cosgrove?
I met Fr. Pat while our family was on the road for ministry/travel for 5 weeks out in eastern Canada this past Fall. I was doing an event at St. Ignatius in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Fr. Pat wasn’t even supposed to be there, he was filling in for another priest and we started chatting about his work with Chalice and my involvement in other child development work, igniting our relationship!
7. What compelled you about Chalice?
In the last decade of ministry, I’ve made it my mission to reach Catholics who are like I was for most of my life — going through the motions. My heart is to re-introduce them to a real relationship in Christ and to help connect them with how God is calling them to love and serve. While there are many organizations out there doing great work, I LOVE how Chalice is Catholic in identity and provides this opportunity for us to love and serve how Jesus loves. It is a great opportunity for a call to action in our lives and to LIVE our Catholic faith: bringing Christ to the poor and the poor to Christ.
8. What makes your work, and your work with Chalice, feel personal to you?
When my wife and I were able to experience extreme poverty in the mission field, it put things into perspective. It made us realize how much we have (and how much we don’t need). By connecting personally with the families who live that reality of poverty every day, it helped me to realize how superficial our faith can be at times. We can still have true joy in faith, even with nothing, even in our struggle. This is the lesson they so graciously taught me, and I’m grateful for that. I also do a lot of work in Catholic schools and it’s incredibly inspiring to see students fired up in faith, and desire to take action to help those who are less fortunate.
9. What’s your favourite song you’ve ever recorded?
To a musician, that question is sort of like asking “what is your favorite child?” Haha. But I’d say one of the most personal songs that I’ve written is titled “Molly Song”. It’s a story about how my daughter came home from school, in kindergarten, announcing she was getting married to a boy she met on the bus! The chorus is my response to her about what true, divine love is:
“Love that’s unending is love that’s divine,
Love that’s unceasing was here before time,
You can get married when the time is right,
But he’s gotta love you and Jesus, more than his own life.”