By Phillip Turner, Creighton University
With so many top ten-lists floating around during the new year, we challenged one of our writers to come up with their own top-ten list, specifically relating to notable Catholics. This list is, of course, their opinion, and we hope you enjoy!
10. Pope Emeritus Benedict
Pope Emeritus Benedict continues to help guide the church at the ripe age of 93 by inspiring the faithful everywhere. His physical and mental resilience continues to amaze many, and his sharp wit and prayerful knowledge give many Catholics an inside look at how a former Pope views current issues in the Church. His immortal writings offer great wisdom during these trying times for the Church, which has earned him our number ten spot on this list.
9. Bishop Barron
Bishop Robert Barron comes in at our number 9 spot because of his continuing work in evangelization and education. Bishop Barron has starred in many programs on EWTN, as well as mainstream television. He is a powerful influence for young Catholics. In the midst of his busy schedule, he still gives many speeches at universities and conferences every year. His work as a pioneer of evangelization and education has earned him the number 9 spot.
8. EWTN Apologists
Dr. David Anders, Fr. Wade Menezes, and Al Kresta all have programs on EWTN that soared in popularity during 2019. EWTN is host to many great programs, but these three, along with Catholic Answers Live, are some of the most popular for both Catholic and non-Catholic audiences. Their service to the Catholic message has earned them the number 8 spot.
7. Pope Francis
Pope Francis finds himself in 7th place. He had a wonderful World Youth Day in Panama during 2019. His continued guidance, wisdom, and messages of hope are what inspire many to give Catholicism a chance, as he propels the Church into the new year.
6. Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Schmitz rounds off the first five. His work in evangelization among the youth of America is second to none. His videos and talks have reached millions of young people, both Catholic and not. He was a headline speaker at this year’s SEEK conference in Phoenix, Arizona. His messages of encouragement and clarity have helped many Catholics, including myself, during their young adult years.
5. Saint Josemaria Escriva
Saint Josemaria has been an inspiration for many young men in 2019. Dozens of young men’s groups and fraternity organizations have adopted him as a figurehead and have found that his message about being a “real man” is a necessary message for today’s society.
4. Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady, of course, cracks the top five of this list. She has done so much for the Church, but especially during 2018 and 2019, since it was the 101-year anniversary of her apparition in Fatima. Additionally, there have been ongoing canonical investigations into new Marian apparitions during 2019, continued evidence that Our Lady is always watching over us.
3. Lila Rose
Live Action founder Lila Rose comes in at our number four spot for her pro-life work. Her organization is best known for its undercover sting videos exposing Planned Parenthood clinics of selling baby parts and covering up rape cases. They are currently in an ongoing legal battle with Planned Parenthood over these videos, but the horrible acts uncovered are enough to warrant a top three spot for Lila Rose.
2. Fulton J. Sheen
Former Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a major Catholic intellectual but found himself at the center of a major controversy in 2019. His canonization was set for the 21st of December 2019 in Peoria, but an ongoing legal battle over the miracle associated with his canonization has indefinitely postponed his canonization. Additionally, with the ongoing sexual abuse scandals within the U.S., many have petitioned the Vatican to investigate Fulton Sheen (accused of covering up sex abuse) in order to clear his name before his canonization can continue. These extremely unusual circumstances over Fulton Sheen’s canonization along with his amazing work as Archbishop are what earned him his spot.
1. Abby Johnson and the movie “Unplanned”
Coming in at number one is Abby Johnson and her story, portrayed in the movie Unplanned. Abby Johnson was a Planned Parenthood employee and eventual clinical director before her eyes were opened to the horrors of abortion. Her story has reached millions across the nation after the movie “Unplanned” came out. “Unplanned” showcases all of her work in the industry, all of the challenges she faced, and it is a powerful pro-life movie that grossed millions at the box-office. The great pro-life work and evangelization of the movie “Unplanned” has earned Abby Johnson’s story our top spot for 2019’s most notable Catholic of the Year.