Matthew Kelly

An internationally recognized speaker and author will speak at a Catholic retreat scheduled Sept. 27 at St. Francis University in Loretto.

Matthew Kelly was invited to the podium at the university’s Maurice Stokes Athletic Center by the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese.

The doors will open at 7 a.m. with Bishop Mark Bartchak, head of the diocese, leading the morning prayer at 8:10 a.m.

Kelly will speak from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with two breaks in between.

Tony DeGol, secretary for communications for the diocese, said the bishop is excited to welcome Kelly to the diocese and hopes Kelly’s message will inspire the faithful in attendance to be – as Kelly would say – the best version of themselves.

“In the early stages of our planning for this event, Bishop Mark expressed a great desire for young people to attend,” DeGol said. “We are, indeed, expecting many youth from around our diocese to join us, and he is very happy about that.

“In fact, the bishop is thrilled that so many people of all ages have purchased tickets and plan on attending.

“Bishop Mark truly hopes that this event leads to a re-energizing of our evangelization efforts here in Altoona-Johnstown.”

Sister Linda LaMagna of the Carmelite Community of the Word and chairwoman of event, said that as of Thursday, more than 1,240 tickets had been sold.

They are hoping to sell out the 1,500 seats, she said.

The diocese is inviting Kelly, a native of Australia now living in Kentucky, to St. Francis because of the strong message that Kelly has to deliver, she said.

“He invites Catholics to be passionate about their faith,” she said. “He calls people to become the best version of themselves.”

He gets them to do that through prayer, silence and living the Catholic faith with purpose and passion, she said.

“It boils down to being a live Catholic and not being a per son who just sits in a pew,” LaMagna said.

Tickets are $39 for adults and $15 for teens and college students. Tickets are available by visiting www.dioceseaj.org and clicking on Matthew Kelly.

Proceeds will go toward publishing religious books for sale at low cost through the Dynamic Catholic Institute, a Kentucky-based, nonprofit organization founded by Kelly to evangelize.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5058. Follow him on Twitter @FrankNews10.

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