Join Bishop Barron and more than 22,000 evangelists from around the world

Bishop Barron has spoken about his dream of evolving Word on Fire from a ministry into a movement. The first step of that process is to form a community of evangelists who share the same mission and desire to proclaim Christ to the culture using beauty, goodness, and truth.

This was the primary motive behind the establishment of the Word on Fire Institute, an easy-to-use digital platform offering members specialized training, community discussions, live presentations, and more. The Institute launched on October 1, 2018—the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Word on Fire’s heavenly patroness.

Now, you can take courses in theology, philosophy, evangelization, and culture from Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire Institute Fellows on any of your devices.

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Rediscovering the Catholic Narrative

Rediscovering the Catholic Narrative

Why should you be Catholic, and what does the Catholic faith have to say about the ultimate value and purpose of your life? Although many of us can intellectually defend important doctrines or quickly recount the stories of great saints, it is often more difficult to situate our own everyday lives within the grand scheme of salvation history.

In this new course,
Rediscovering the Catholic Narrative, Dr. Tod Worner seeks to give viewers a clearer understanding of both the universal validity and individual uniqueness of the Catholic story. Focusing on the four key aspects of dignity, calling, suffering, and grace, he makes a case for Catholicism rooted in our everyday experiences of God.

Tod Worner is a husband, father, practicing internal medicine physician, Managing Editor of the Evangelization & Culture journal, and host of the Evangelization & Culture Podcast. His writing can be found at Word on Fire, Aleteia, Patheos, National Catholic Register, and @thinkercatholic. 

Fellow Icon Tod Worner, MD
What is Justice

What is Justice?

Human beings naturally desire to have justice administered and injustices rectified, as demonstrated by our culture’s focus on human rights and social justice. But given the modern rejection of the transcendent, such concepts are left obscured and without a definite basis or standard. How are we today to understand justice? What exactly is it, and where does it come from? Is it desirable for its own sake? How is it connected to our overall flourishing?

In this course, philosopher Thomas Hibbs answers these questions and more by drawing upon the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas. He advocates for a return to the classical understanding of virtue, which roots justice in the basic belief of human life as a gift from the Creator. In six lessons, he unpacks a Catholic view of justice that is as relevant today as it was for the ancients.

Thomas Hibbs holds a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame and teaches philosophy at Baylor University. He previously served as president of the University of Dallas* and has written widely on philosophy, education, and culture.

*Though he is currently not serving as the president of the University of Dallas, Dr. Hibbs was serving as president when this series trailer was filmed.  

Fellow Icon Thomas Hibbs, PhD
Adam Eve and Us Graphic

Adam, Eve, and Us

To many, the biblical book of Genesis seems mysterious and confusing. At best, it contains ancient stories that are irrelevant to the modern reader; at worst, it forces upon Christians irrational beliefs that have been disproven by scientific findings. What value does Genesis truly hold for us today, and how are we to properly read it so as to avoid such pitfalls?

In this Word on Fire Institute course, Dr. Christopher Kaczor argues that Genesis provides perennial wisdom for human living, urging viewers to familiarize themselves with the pivotal text. Working through its first eleven chapters—which cover creation, the fall, the flood, and more—he both demonstrates how to interpret them in a way consistent with modern knowledge and extrapolates from them sage advice of everlasting relevance. Any believer or nonbeliever who feels intimidated by these dense narratives will benefit from Dr. Kaczor’s important exegesis.

Dr. Christopher Kaczor is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and the St. Thomas Aquinas Fellow for the Renewal of Catholic Intellectual Life at the Word on Fire Institute. He has authored several books, and his research on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Today Show, and more.

Fellow Icon Christopher Kaczor, PhD
Wonder sessions

Wonder Conference 2023 Sessions

The Word on Fire Institute’s inaugural Wonder Conference on January 13 and 14, 2023 served as an opportunity to engage with theologians and other experts on important issues at the intersection of the Catholic faith and secular culture.

In this course recap, you can hear from these powerful voices—the voices of astrophysicists, educators, medical physicians, and friars, among others, on topics such as science and the Church, evolution, happiness, artificial intelligence, and many more.

Fellow Icon Word on Fire Institute
Is Philosophy Dead?

Is Philosophy Dead?

Part of every Christian’s evangelical task is being able to present a coherent argument for the faith to others. This, however, requires a knowledge of philosophy, a subject that has largely been discarded in modern-day argumentation.

In this course, Dr. Matthew Nelson endeavors to shed philosophy’s bad reputation as ‘primitive’ or ‘anti-science’ and re-establish its essential place in man’s search for truth and meaning. Drawing on wisdom from the saints and Magisterium, he both explains abstract metaphysical concepts and shows viewers how to apply them to actual arguments for and against the existence of God. Addressing topics such as the new atheism, the rise of scientism, and the relationship between faith and reason, he makes a case for using philosophy to more fully know and love God, who is as much the captivator of minds as he is the compeller of hearts.

Matthew Nelson is an apologist and practicing chiropractor. He holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is the author of Just Whatever: How to Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs That Really Matter and editor of The New Apologetics.

Fellow Icon Matthew Nelson
catholicism 101

Catholicism 101

Catholicism 101 is an instructional and engaging video series presenting the basic truths of the Catholic faith over the course of 20 videos.

Presented by a range of contemporary evangelists—including Sr. Josephine Garrett, Fr. Stephen Gadberry, actor Jonathan Roumie from the “Chosen” series, and many more—Catholicism 101 will help you catechize, evangelize, and encourage others to proclaim Christ in the culture.

Fellow Icon Word on Fire Institute
Science and Religion in Modern Astronomy

Science and Religion in Modern Astronomy

Many opponents of religion today view the Christian faith as anti-science, claiming that recent astronomical discoveries disprove its foundational claims. Even Christians themselves often struggle to reconcile modern research with the revealed truths of the Scriptures and the existence of a Creator God. In this course, Dr. Karin Öberg addresses this perceived divide, exploring the findings of contemporary cosmology through a Christian lens to demonstrate what is in fact a fundamental compatibility.

Over the course of four lessons and covering topics like the creation of the world, the size and knowability of the universe, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, she offers to viewers a thoroughly informed yet religiously orthodox approach to understanding the world around them.

Dr. Öberg is professor of astronomy at Harvard University and serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Scientists. With a speciality in astrochemistry, she researches how chemical processes affect the outcome of planet formation, especially the habitability of nascent planets.

Fellow Icon Karin Öberg
Catholicism and Comedy

Catholicism and Comedy

This course explores how humor can be a means of sanctification. Through the cardinal and theological virtues, you will discover the clear connections between comedy and Catholicism. Catholicism helps direct comedy to its proper end, while comedy sheds light on how to live a better Catholic life. And on top of that, you will learn a few practical tips for writing better jokes.

Jeremy McLellan, both a Catholic and professional standup comedian, has spent years performing for a variety of audiences. Along the way, he’s been consumed with the questions he’ll be addressing in this series. Is there a uniquely Catholic understanding of comedy? Is humor part of the Catholic life? Can humor make us better people? Can jokes be a tool for evangelism? Should comedians be political? Are some jokes too offensive or too soon? Is nothing sacred? And, most importantly, is political correctness ruining comedy?

Fellow Icon Jeremy McLellan
evangelizing protestants

Evangelizing Protestants

In this course, Andrew Petiprin takes you inside several important texts that express how the Church thinks about Protestants and explain how they belong with us in the Catholic church. You’ll look at the life and work of St. John Henry Newman, particularly his Apologia Pro Vita Sua. The other key works include Pastor Aeternus by Pope Pius IX; Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council’s document on ecumenism; Pope St. John Paul II’s landmark ecumenical document, Ut Unum Sint; and to conclude, Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution of 2009, Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Join Andrew, formerly a Protestant minister in the Episcopal church himself, as he offers a courageous way forward. Let us all pray that we may be fully equipped by Holy Spirit to welcome our Protestant brothers and sisters back to the Church.

Fellow Icon Andrew Petiprin

The Protestant Reformation

The focus of this course is a key event at the birth of the modern world, the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Barron believes it is truly important for Catholics to have a substantive understanding of this seminal event. Over the lessons, he will discuss the thought of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the two most important of the Protestant reformers. Then we will look at the Catholic Church’s official response to the Reformation at the Council of Trent—a response that was both appreciative and critical.

You will complete the course with a better understanding of the Reformation and a better sense of how to engage our Protestant brothers and sisters.

Fellow Icon Bishop Robert Barron

Catholic Social Ethics: The Antidote to Ideology

Today, much of our social and political dialogue is dominated by ideological thinking. But the many ideologies that are now considered mainstream—such as liberalism, fascism, socialism, and more—all have one thing in common: a lack of transcendence. In seeking to achieve the perfect society apart from God, they end up creating societies that lack true justice, solidarity, and pursuit of the good.

Thankfully, there is an alternative—not an alternative ideology, but an antidote to ideological thinking itself. In this course, Dr. Matthew Petrusek contrasts various ideologies with Catholic social ethics, demonstrating how only a Catholic worldview can shape our society into one where both the individual and the community flourish. Navigating various ideological approaches to relevant issues—including free speech, human dignity, and the perfection of society—Petrusek proposes Catholic solutions that avoid common ideological pitfalls while attaining real social progress. With an emphasis on grace and an eye toward heaven, these lessons offer a path forward that is as hopeful as it is realistic.

Fellow Icon Matthew Petrusek, PhD
Creative Writing and Evangelization

Creative Writing and Evangelization

We need our writing to show forth what is good, true, and beautiful in an intentional way that is artistically compelling while presenting the faith as meaningful through the power of the imagination. This involves a lot of skills that require time to learn and do well.

Dr. Holly Ordway’s course is for anyone interested in creative writing and the power of writing for evangelization. You will find insight into the way the imagination works for evangelization and explore different forms and genres as you discover how to get started and grow as an author. We’ll look at the foundations of the writer’s life, both practical and spiritual. We’ll also look at the writing process and different forms: creative non-fiction, personal testimonies, poetry, fiction, drama, and more. All of this will give you a view of the great range, diversity, and opportunity that writing provides for evangelization.

Fellow Icon Holly Ordway, PhD

The Art of Happiness

Blending social science and Catholicism, this course combines cutting-edge research and top-notch scholarship with the lives of great saints and our incredible inheritance of Church teaching. There are even surprising places to discover where secular science reinforces sacred wisdom. Plus, you’ll receive clear take-aways and action items that you can put into practice right now—to build more happiness for yourself, and to help you share more joy and peace with your family, your friends, and everyone else God puts before you!

Fellow Icon Arthur Brooks
Faith, Science, and Sin

Faith, Science, and Sin

Dr. Christopher Baglow of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute of Church Life considers the mysteries of the Catholic Faith in dialogue with scientific discoveries, allowing us avoid the shallowness that John Paul II says debases the Gospel and leaves us ashamed before history.

This course introduces us to some of the richest insights of the Catholic intellectual tradition. We confront the problem of evil amidst God’s good creation and confront fundamental questions: What makes being human so special? How might modern science become a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block to understanding what we believe?

Fellow Icon Christopher Baglow

Faith & Science Summit

Join us for a multi-day conversation on the crossroads between faith and science.

Fellow Icon Jared Zimmerer, PhD

Evangelizing the Open-Minded

In this course, Dr. Matthew Nelson explains how to engage people who are confident in their nonbelief but willing to seriously consider reasons for believing in Christianity.

Fellow Icon Matthew Nelson

Dante’s Catholic Imagination

Bishop Barron leads us on a journey through the life of Dante and his major work, The Divine Comedy, the great literary treasure dedicated to the Catholic Faith and the understanding of the dynamics of the Christian spiritual life.

Fellow Icon Bishop Robert Barron

Word on Fire Institute Orientation

Welcome to the Word on Fire Institute! This course will give you the basic knowledge necessary to navigate the site and interact with our community of evangelists. Scroll down to get started.

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Living the Liturgical Year in the Home

In her course, Haley Stewart unpacks the treasures of the Liturgical Year and explores how liturgical living can strengthen the Domestic Church or the life of faith in the family.

Fellow Icon Haley Stewart

Understanding the “Nones” and How to Reach Them

In this course, Dr. Stephen Bullivant walks through the demographics of the religiously unaffiliated and how the Church can better reach them.

Fellow Icon Stephen Bullivant, PhD
Man reading the Bible

The Five S’s of Effective Evangelization

In this course, Elizabeth Scalia walks us through the five S’s of effective evangelization: storytelling, Scripture, sacraments, saints, and small moments.

Fellow Icon Elizabeth Scalia

Prayer, Beauty, Mission: The Hidden Springs of the New Evangelization

In this course, Fr. Murray highlights and explains the spirituality of the downward path and the upward ascent to the new sacred. Each lesson develops the biblical truth that God loved us first and desires us to partake in the fullness of his divine life.

Fellow Icon Fr. Paul Murray, OP

Reading Scripture with the Early Church Fathers

In this course, Bishop Barron introduces the spiritual dynamics of Biblical exegesis in Origen and St. Augustine of Hippo.

Fellow Icon Bishop Robert Barron

From Books to Ballads: How Great Writers Form Wise Catholics

Dr. Tod Worner laments that his education was mostly lacking in reading classic literature. Only after obtaining his degree did Dr. Worner start to read the great books, and he came to realize the profound wisdom therein. In this course, Dr. Worner shares the wisdom he has learned from classic literature, and why all of us should read them.

Fellow Icon Tod Worner, MD

Science for Evangelists

The narrative that science and Christianity are enemies is false. Not only are they not enemies but Christianity helped science develop beyond the limits imposed on it by ancient cosmologies. In this course, Dr. Trasancos introduces evangelists to the basics of science and why there is no conflict between science and Christianity.

Fellow Icon Stacy Trasancos, PhD

Re-enchanting the Secular

Secularism is the predominate worldview in the West. However, it does not answer the deepest longing of the human heart. In this course, Dr. Petrusek explains how Catholics can save Secularism from itself.

Fellow Icon Matthew Petrusek, PhD

The Evangelical Spirituality of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was one of the greatest spiritual writers of the last century. Despite his personal struggles, he inspired many people to seek holiness by applying the wisdom of monasticism to life outside the monastery. In this course, Jared Zimmerer explains Merton’s evangelical spirituality and stresses its significance today.

Fellow Icon Jared Zimmerer, PhD

Happiness and the Meaning of Life

In this course, Dr. Jennifer Frey teaches us about what true happiness is and how morality and virtue play a part in achieving it. Referring to Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and modern figures like Elizabeth Anscombe, Dr. Frey demonstrates the link between morality and the meaning of life. All people seek meaning in life and as evangelists, we must be able to discuss the depth of this universal question.

Fellow Icon Jennifer Frey, PhD

The People You Will Meet

Knowing your audience is very important in effective evangelization. In this course, Fr. Stephen Gadberry distinguishes the different types of people you will likely meet, including: the religiously hostile, the fallen-away Catholic, the spiritual but not religious, and the modern-day scribe and Pharisee. His advice is based on years of experience as a Catholic priest engaging people about the faith. In this course, Fr. Gadberry illustrates how to engage the people we are bound to meet in the culture and how to effectively attract them towards Jesus Christ.

Fellow Icon Fr. Stephen Gadberry
Saint John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman: The Greatest Catholic Theologian Since Aquinas

In this course, Bishop Barron will examine Newman’s many theological contributions, which are important in understanding Vatican II and in addressing the challenge of modernity. You’ll be introduced to Newman by looking at his most significant texts: his autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua, the theologically meaningful Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, the educationally pertinent The Idea of a University, and the challenging An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.

Fellow Icon Bishop Robert Barron

Christian Community as Leaven for the World

In this course Christian Community as Leaven for the World, Leah Libresco will explore how to build up Christian community through simple acts of love and friendship, showing why community is so important to the Christian life.

Fellow Icon Leah Libresco

Seven Myths About the Catholic Church

There are many myths about the Catholic Church that are popular in today’s culture. In the following course, Dr. Christopher Kaczor highlights the big seven myths, distinguishing fact from fiction about Catholicism. This course will help you better address many controversial topics from contraception to women and the priesthood.

Fellow Icon Christopher Kaczor, PhD
Open Book with Glasses

How Nones Can Misread the Bible

Catholics believe along with St. Paul that the Bible is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). But with the growing number of religiously unaffiliated people in the world, our culture’s understanding of the Bible and its contents is more lacking and skewed than perhaps ever before.

In this course, Notre Dame professor of Sacred Scripture, Anthony Pagliarini, teaches us how to read the Bible ourselves and become better evangelists of an increasingly religiously unaffiliated culture in the process.

Fellow Icon Anthony Pagliarini, PhD
Word on Fire Digital Summit Logo

2019 Digital Summit

Fellow Icon Jared Zimmerer, PhD
Imaginative Apologetics

Imaginative Apologetics

How do we share the Faith in a culture where many people don’t understand what we mean by words like ‘sin’ or ‘salvation’ – and where the media constantly bombards us with the idea that the teachings of the Church are irrelevant, outdated, or bigoted?

All too often, people aren’t even interested in hearing about the Faith! Especially when we seek to reach young people or bring back those who have left the Church, we must find ways to communicate more effectively – in short, to make our arguments meaningful. Here, the imagination is essential but often neglected.

In this course, Dr. Holly Ordway focuses on the role of the imagination in apologetics, showing how attention to language and meaning can make the work of catechesis and evangelization much more effective.

Fellow Icon Holly Ordway, PhD
Crowd crossing the street

To the Peripheries!

In this course, Fr. Damian Ference will take us through numerous examples from the Gospels, his own life, and the philosophy of several saints on ways in which we evangelize. Each of these examples are modeled on the life of Christ. 

There might be times in which we think of the task of evangelization and feel overwhelmed. Perhaps we aren’t quite sure where to connect with people. Perhaps we’re worried that we might say or do the wrong thing. Sometimes, we might even think that the culture is too far gone for us to find a place to start. 

In the following lessons, listen in as Fr. Damian Ference covers how it is that Christ evangelizes and how many of the best moments in the Gospels apply both to our own spiritual lives, as well as our evangelical mission. 

Fellow Icon Fr. Damian Ference
People against a wall on their phones

Reaching the Indifferent

“Man no longer wishes to reflect on his relationship with God because he himself intends to become God,” assessed Robert Cardinal Sarah in his acclaimed book God or Nothing. Indeed, in this hyper-individualistic age characterized by spreading religious disaffiliation and relativism, his diagnosis seems spot on. 

How do you evangelize someone who doesn’t care to take religion seriously in the first place? The aim of this course is to provide you with intellectual ammo and practical strategies that will help you to successfully evangelize the spiritually indifferent. 

Fellow Icon Matthew Nelson
Hans Von Balthasar

Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar was one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. Henri de Lubac called him the “most cultured man in Europe.” The thought of this highly prolific intellectual was unique, profound, orthodox, and, through and through, Christocentric.

You might be wondering, why start with a course on Hans Urs von Balthasar? Balthasar has been a major influence on the way in which Bishop Barron expresses the faith, and this style of expression has been incredibly effective at reaching those outside of the Church. The way in which we express the faith can have a serious impact on the listener, and Balthasar is a fundamental theologian for our modern times. 

In this 12-lesson course, Bishop Barron introduces us to several of the fundamental themes encapsulated in the theological work of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Fellow Icon Bishop Robert Barron
Students around a table

8 Principles of Word on Fire

In this course, you will learn the animating principles of the Word on Fire movement and the guiding lights of the Word on Fire Institute. These principles stem from the years of Bishop Robert Barron’s evangelical work and have been recognized as the foundational pillars of our spirituality of evangelization.

Each of the principles reflects an integral aspect of the life of a Word on Fire evangelist.

Fellow Icon Jared Zimmerer, PhD
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The Journal

Journal Spread Journal Cover

Evangelization & Culture, the Journal of

the Word on Fire Institute, is published

quarterly and offered exclusively to Word

on Fire Institute Members. It exists to be

a tangible representation of the Word on

Fire Institute’s mission and goal: to lead

with beauty in order to bring others to the

knowledge of truth. It features academic

writing from premier theologians and

inspiring bits of literature, culture, and

daily life from fellow missionaries on the

journey to know and serve Christ.

Join Now

Professors and Fellows

Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota. He is also the host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award-winning documentary about the Catholic faith, which aired on PBS. Bishop Barron is a #1 Amazon bestselling author and has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. He is a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and EWTN. Bishop Barron's website, WordOnFire.org, reaches millions of people each year, and he is one of the world's most followed Catholics on social media. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 25 million times and he has over 1.5 million followers on Facebook.

Christopher Baglow

Christopher Baglow is the Director of the Science and Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, a Professor of the Practice of Theology in the Notre Dame Theology Department, the theological liaison of the Board of the Society of Catholic Scientists, and a Fellow of the Word on Fire Institute. The second edition of his book Faith, Science, and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge is now available.

Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford was appointed Fellow for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the beginning of 2023. For over 20 years, he has been blessed to serve in leadership positions in various church ministries, including as the founding president of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation in the U.S. Mark and his wife Denise are parents to Thomas, their 6th child (and first son), who happens to have been gifted with an extra 21st chromosome. Mark is a passionate advocate for those born with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. He especially advocates against the threat of abortion following a prenatal diagnosis at every opportunity. The Bradfords reside in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Stephen Bullivant, PhD

Stephen Bullivant is a Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion, and Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St. Mary's University, UK. He holds doctorates in Theology (Oxford, 2009) and Sociology (Warwick, 2019). He joined St. Mary’s in 2009, having previously held posts at Heythrop College, London, and Wolfson College, Oxford. Professor Bullivant has also held a visiting fellowship at the Institute for Social Change (University of Manchester), Blackfriars Hall (University of Oxford), and the Institute for Advanced Studies (University College London).

Richard DeClue, SThD

Richard DeClue is the Professor of Theology at the Word on Fire Institute. In addition to his undergraduate degree in theology (Belmont Abbey College), he earned three ecclesiastical degrees in theology at the Catholic University of America. He specializes in systematic theology with a particular interest and expertise in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. His STL thesis treated Ratzinger’s Eucharistic ecclesiology in comparison to the Eastern Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas. His doctoral dissertation expounded and evaluated Ratzinger’s theology of divine revelation. Dr. DeClue has published articles in peer-reviewed journals on Ratzinger’s theology, and he taught a college course on the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. He is also interested in the ecclesiology of Henri de Lubac, the debate over nature and grace, and developing a rapprochement between Communio (ressourcement) theology and Thomism.

Fr. Damian Ference

Fr. Damian Ference is a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland. He graduated from Borromeo Seminary/John Carroll University in 1998, and after earning his M.A. and M.Div. from Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology he was ordained for the diocese of Cleveland in 2003. He served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Hudson, Ohio from 2003-2007. In 2009 he earned his licentiate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Ference has been part of the formation faculty at Borromeo Seminary since 2009. He has served at Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio as Director of Human Formation and Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and is currently a doctoral student in philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy. Father Ference has published articles in a wide variety of periodicals and regularly preaches retreats and parish missions. He is the founder and director of {TOLLE LEGE} Summer Institute and is a lifetime member of the Flannery O’Connor Society.

Jennifer Frey, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Frey is currently an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Previously, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago. She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a wife and mother of six.

Fr. Stephen Gadberry

Fr. Stephen Gadberry is a native of Wynne, Arkansas and a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Little Rock, ordained on May 28, 2016. When not preaching at the pulpit, you can find him exercising, spending time outdoors, coaching a CrossFit class or playing with his dogs, Murph and Shorty. He was featured on Episode 1 of season 10 of America Ninja Warrior in 2018. To relax his soul, he enjoys listening to music, as well as making music on the piano, guitar and harmonica. In addition to his duties as pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Batesville, he serves as pastor of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Newport, AR. Father Stephen is also a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Thomas Hibbs, PhD

Thomas Hibbs is currently J. Newton Rayzor Sr. Professor of Philosophy at Baylor where he is also Dean Emeritus, having served 16 years as Dean of the Honors College and Distinguished Professor of Ethic and Culture. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and served as tutor at Thomas Aquinas College, Full Professor and Department Chair of Philosophy at Boston College, and President of the University of Dallas. At Baylor, Dr. Hibbs has also served as Director of Baylor in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hibbs works in the areas of medieval philosophy, especially Thomas Aquinas, contemporary virtue ethics, and aesthetics. He has taught widely in interdisciplinary core programs at Boston College and Baylor. He has published more than 100 reviews and discussion articles on film, theater, art, and higher education in a variety of venues including First Things, The Dallas Morning News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Atlantis, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review. He also has two books on film and philosophy. Called upon regularly to comment on film and popular culture, Dr. Hibbs has made more than 100 appearances on radio, including nationally syndicated NPR shows “The Connection,” “On the Media,” and “All Things Considered,” as well as local NPR stations in Boston, MA, Ann Arbor, MI, Dallas, TX, and Rochester, NY.

Christopher Kaczor, PhD

Christopher Kaczor is the Professor for the Renewal of Catholic Intellectual Life and the Dean of Professors. He is also Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He holds a Ph.D. (1996) from the University of Notre Dame and did post- doctoral work in Germany at the Universität zu Köln. He has authored several books, the latest of which is The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 2012) and Life Issues, Medical Choices (co-authored with Dr. Janet Smith, Servant, 2016). Dr. Kaczor's research on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, National Review, NPR, BBC, EWTN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, and The Today Show.

Leah Libresco

Leah Libresco has worked as a statistics professor, a data journalist, and a Bayesian probability instructor. She grew up as an atheist and converted to Catholicism while studying at Yale. Through various relationships and reading the likes of Lewis and Chesterton, Leah began to learn more and more about the Catholic faith and was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012. Her conversion unfolded through her popular blog, Unequally Yoked, and was also covered by various media outlets including CNN, NBC News, and TheBlaze. Leah is the author of two books, Arriving at Amen (Ave Maria Press, 2015) and Building the Benedict Option (Ignatius Press, 2018). She continues to write about faith, philosophy, math, and musical theatre on her blog, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, First Things, The Weekly Standard, The American Interest, The American Conservative, America, Fare Forward, and many other outlets. Leah and her husband, Alexi, live in New York City.

Fr. Paul Murray, OP

Paul Murray, OP, an Irish Dominican friar, lives in Rome where he teaches courses at the Angelicum University on the literature of the Western mystical tradition. He is a Fellow of the Word on Fire Institute and has published many books, including Scars: Essays, Poems, and Meditations on Affliction; Aquinas at Prayer: The Bible, Mysticism, and Poetry; and God's Spies: Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Other Poets of Vision.

Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelson holds a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Regina. Matt is also the author of Just Whatever: How to Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs That Really Matter (Catholic Answers Press, 2018). He has been a regular contributor to the Catholic Answers Online Magazine, Strange Notions, and the Word on Fire blog. He has appeared on Salt and Light Television, and has been interviewed on Catholic Answers Live, EWTN Radio, Relevant Radio, Redeemer Radio, Ave Maria Radio, and Breadbox Media, and a number of podcasts. Matt resides in Canada with his wife Amanda and their three children.

Holly Ordway, PhD

Holly Ordway is the Cardinal Francis George Professor of Faith and Culture at the Word on Fire Institute. She is also Visiting Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Tolkien's Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014). Dr. Ordway is also a published poet, and a Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Dr. Ordway is also Visiting Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies, and a published poet. Her academic work focuses on imaginative apologetics and the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Learn more at HollyOrdway.com

Anthony Pagliarini, PhD

Anthony Pagliarini earned Theology and Philosophy degrees from Notre Dame, the Angelicum in Rome, and the International Theological Institute in Austria. Anthony and his wife Katie live in South Bend, Indiana with their four children. They teach in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame.

Matthew Petrusek, PhD

Matthew Petrusek is the Assistant Director and Professor of Catholic Ethics at the Word on Fire Institute. He received an MA (Yale University) and PhD (University of Chicago) in religious ethics and was previously associate professor of theological ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He specializes in Christian ethics, though lectures broadly, in English and Spanish, on philosophy, theology, and the Catholic intellectual tradition. In addition to serving as a WOFI professor, Petrusek is author of Evangelization and Ideology: How to Understand and Respond to the Political Culture, co-author of Jordan Peterson, God, and Christianity: The Search for a Meaningful Life, and co-editor of Ethics and Advocacy: Bridges and Boundaries and Value and Vulnerability: An Interfaith Dialogue on Human Dignity. He has also hosted the lecture series "The Idolatry of Identity" and the bilingual show "Reasons to Believe/Razones Para Creer." He lives with his wife and children in Rochester, MN.

Elizabeth Scalia

Elizabeth Scalia is a Benedictine Oblate and author of several books, including the award-winning Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life (Ave Maria Press) and Little Sins Mean a Lot (OSV). Before her time at Word on Fire as Editor-at-Large, she served as Editor-in-Chief of the English edition of Aleteia and as Managing Editor of the Catholic section of Patheos.com. Elizabeth blogs as “The Anchoress” at http://www.theanchoress.com. She is married and living on Long Island.

Haley Stewart

Haley Stewart is a Catholic author and the managing editor of Word on Fire Spark. She is a homeschooling mother of four, wife to a whiskey maker, co-host of The Fountains of Carrots Podcast, and the author of The Grace of Enough (Ave Maria, 2018).

Stacy Trasancos, PhD

Stacy A. Trasancos is a convert to Catholicism and an internationally-recognized author, speaker, and educator on the topic of theology and science. She has a PhD in chemistry and an MA in dogmatic theology. She is a teaching fellow for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute and regularly appears on Catholic Answers Live to answer questions about faith and science. She is the author of three books: Particles of Faith, Science Was Born of Christianity, and 20 Answers: Bioethics. Her work was featured in Forbes, and she has written numerous articles for publications such as National Catholic Register, St. Austin’s Review, and Catholic World Report. She appears frequently on Catholic radio and podcasts. Dr. Trasancos teaches online theology courses for Seton Hall University’s Catholic Studies program. She and her family moved from the Adirondacks of upstate New York to East Texas last year–a coming home to her birthplace. Now she is the Executive Director for the St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization founded by Bishop Joseph Strickland in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. She is a mother of seven and wife to her dear husband, Jose. They enjoy their life together in Hideaway, Texas.

Tod Worner, MD

Tod Worner is a husband, father, Catholic convert, and a practicing internal medicine physician. He is also the Managing Editor for the Word on Fire Institute Journal Evangelization and Culture. His blog, “Catholic Thinking”, is found at Aleteia.com. He also writes for Patheos (“A Catholic Thinker”) and the National Catholic Register. Follow him on Twitter @thinkercatholic.

Jared Zimmerer, PhD

Jared Zimmerer is the former Senior Director of the Word on Fire Institute and Dean of Pastoral Fellows. He holds a Master’s Degree in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, a PhD in Humanities from Faulkner University, and a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. He has written two books, The Ten Commandments of Lifting Weights and Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man. Jared has appeared on EWTN and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows and podcasts. He and his wife Jessica live in Atchison, Kansas with their six children.

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What is the Word on Fire Institute?

Over the past few years, you may have heard Bishop Barron speaking of the need for a movement made up of both priests and laypeople who together share a common spirituality and possess the same vision of evangelizing the modern culture from within.

The first major step of realizing Bishop Barron’s idea of a movement is to establish a place of collective formation, training, and community online.

This “place” is the new Word on Fire Institute.

As such, the Word on Fire Institute (WOFI) exists to propagate the work and content of Bishop Robert Barron in an interactive, relational, digital education format, and to form missionaries in the Word on Fire ethos of evangelization, emphasizing Bishop Barron’s style and methods of evangelizing the religiously unaffiliated (or “nones”).

Can I share my Institute membership with others?

The Word on Fire Institute is designed for individual training, so you cannot share your login credentials with other people, share the videos online, or show the videos in a group setting.

Is there an app I can use on mobile for the Institute?

We do not currently have an app, however, the website is optimized for mobile phones.


Do you have scholarships/discounts for the Institute?

We are currently working on a scholarship program for consecrated and ordained religious.

Can the Institute be used within my parish?

The Word on Fire Institute is meant for individual instruction. For parishes, Word on Fire offers the Word on Fire ENGAGE program. Email [email protected] for more info!

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We currently only offer a monthly subscription.

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Your card will be charged $27/month. The charges will continue on that same date for each subsequent month of membership. There are no contracts and you may cancel at any time by simply calling or emailing customer support.

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