I'm highlighting Steve Kellmeyer.
I had the privilege and pleasure to work with Steve back when I lived in the big city. He was then employed as the Director of Adult Faith Formation in our parish, and after an inquisition-like interview (trying to ascertain if I was a heretic) he accepted me onto the RCIA team. What struck me about him right away (besides his Pauline zeal and unapologetic orthodoxy), was how funny he is! Most of his conversation is peppered with laughter, and he likes a good joke. He's a dynamic, passionate, and engaging speaker, and can clearly and succinctly explain even the hardest doctrines. Good times!
A little about the man himself: he has degrees in Medical Lab Technology and Computer Science, and M.A.'s in both Theology and Post-Enlightenment European History. He's been married for 12 years to his lovely wife, and they have four children.
Besides being a catechist and nationally-renowned speaker, Steve is an author. He founded Bridegroom Press which has published his many hot-topic current events books, including: Debunking Obama's First 100 Days, Debunking Angels and Demons, Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, and Sex in the Sacred City (a meditational book on Theology of the Body) as well as his Scriptural works: Bible Basics (an apologetics reference book), The Sensible Scripture Study (a Bible study using the four senses of Scripture), and The Flesh of God (a meditational study for Advent).
There are three of his books I'd especially like to draw attention to, though.
The first is Artfully Teaching the Faith, which takes a few dozen masterpieces from Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and others and describes how Catholic doctrine is visually embedded by the artists in these paintings. It's illuminating!
The second is The Middle-Earth Riddle Book which contains nearly 180 medieval riddles (and, yes, their answers). In researching for this book, he used many of the same sources Tolkien would've used to craft his riddles for The Lord of the Rings. It's a fun read.
The third is, perhaps, his most controversial work, Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America. When I asked Steve the basic gist of it, his response was: "The Catholic parochial system is set up in such a way that it violates the rights of parents... and will never effectively pass on the faith." This book explicates that thesis. Well-researched, insightful, definitely controversial, and quite thought-provoking.
Far and away the most popular product at Bridegroom Press, however, is Steve's Calendar of Indulgences. And why not? It:
- Lists all the indulgenced works of the Church on a month-at-a-glance basis,
- Highlights the twenty-two special days when a partial indulgence becomes plenary to honor a day,
- Color-codes the indulgences for easy identification
- Has scholarly notes on the history of indulgences,
- Contains the conditions for earning both partial and plenary indulgences,
- Gives the complete text of over a dozen different indulgenced prayers,
- Carries weekly reminders for Friday fasts and Saturday confession
- Carries all the information for the Year of the Priest plenary indulgences!
So if you're looking for some Catholic gifts to give this Christmas, I'd recommend any of the aforementioned books (or the calendar!). And if you're looking to bring a dynamic, orthodox, well-educated and engaging speaker to your parish or conference, look no further than Mr. Steve Kellmeyer.