Clergy discuss God’s existence in new book

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

Sally Lynch, right, and her husband Chuck, have compiled a booklet called “God Exists: I have it on Good Authority.” It consists of testimonies written primarily by Archdiocese of Louisville priests who were asked to reflect upon the question, “I know God exists because...” (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)
Sally Lynch, right, and her husband Chuck, have compiled a booklet called “God Exists: I have it on Good Authority.” It consists of testimonies written primarily by Archdiocese of Louisville priests who were asked to reflect upon the question, “I know God exists because…” (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

More than four dozen local priests and two archbishops, including the late Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, offer their views on God’s existence in a newly published booklet called “God Exists: I have it on good authority!”

It was compiled and funded by Sally and Chuck Lynch, St. Barnabas Church parishioners. Sally Lynch began the project in earnest in November of 2011 after discovering, over the course of several years, that some young adults she knew had stopped going to church.

“I heard they’d fallen away or don’t go to church,” she said during an interview in her sunny Plainview kitchen recently. “And some don’t even believe in God.”

She was disappointed, she said, because some of these young adults were her Confirmandi, young Catholics she had sponsored during Confirmation.

Sally Lynch bubbles with enthusiasm as she discusses her Confirmandi. She has served as a sponsor for 33 young people. She takes great pleasure in being a sponsor and she takes the responsibility seriously, she said.

“I’m their sponsor and whether they like it or not, I’m there for life,” Lynch said of the obligation.

So, with her husband’s support, Lynch sent a letter explaining this problem to all of the priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville. And she asked them to explain why they believe God exists. She hopes their responses will help young people rediscover their faith.

She asked each of the clergy to complete the prompt, “I know God exists because …”

She received responses from 58 clergy, including Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Arch-bishop Thomas C. Kelly, who sent his response two weeks
before he died in December of 2011. Responses also came from two provincials of religious communities, Conventual Francis-
can Friar Jim Kent and Dominican Father Chris Eggleton, prior provincial of the Southern Dominicans. Father Eggleton is Sally Lynch’s brother.

Father Gerald Timmel recently skimmed the new booklet, "God Exists," to which he contributed. (Photo by Sally Lynch)
Father Gerald Timmel recently skimmed the new booklet, “God Exists,” to which he contributed. (Photo by Sally Lynch)

Their responses range from theological to heartfelt explanations. Some were signed and some were submitted anonymously.

Father Gary Davis, a former pastor of St. Barnabas, offered this response:

“I am loved and I love others,” wrote Father Davis, now pastor of St. Athanasius Church. “Love is not found in nature, it is not created by science. Love is eternal, God is love. If there is no God, where did love come from?”

Several who responded pointed to love, especially that of their parents. Several also credit their parents with instilling faith within them. Others point to the beauty and complexity of nature.

Archbishop Kelly completed the prompt, saying he knows God exists because “of the wonders of creation.”

“From the depths of the sea to the unimagined cosmos of planetary systems, a guiding power reveals itself, in the making and maintaining of these wonders,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, I know God exists because Jesus Christ, his Son, came into the world to reveal the inmost workings of God in his love for us, poor sinners that we are.”

Archbishop Kurtz writes, “I ‘know’ God exists because of the mystery of creation surrounding me, the sense of purpose planted deep within me, and my ongoing reception of God’s revelation into my heart.”

He also refers the reader to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 31, which says, “Created in God’s image and called to know and love Him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know Him.”

He also refers to papal documents and other theological works that examine the nature of faith. He concludes, “Knowing God in the deepest sense leads to a life that is free and beautiful and great. No wonder people of faith seem the most alive and fulfilled.”

Father Gerald Timmel, who said he appreciated Lynch’s effort to evangelize, likened God in his response to a football coach, one who has a plan for one’s life.

He said during a phone interview last week that this analogy was aimed at young people.

“When I wrote it, I had vocations in mind,” he said. “And I wrote it in a way for young people to read. I hope they can get an inspiration to start practicing their faith” within the pages of the book.

Father Timmel, who serves as the spiritual director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said he also hoped that parents might read it and find inspiration to help guide their children in the faith. He said he has long been concerned that he sees fewer young people at Mass than he once did.

Lynch said she hopes the book helps people of all ages develop a closer relationship to God. She intends to give it to next year’s graduates of John Paul II Academy, a regional school supported by her parish.

She is giving the books away for free, though there are a limited number. Those who are interested in receiving a copy may write to Lynch at P.O. Box 436448, Louisville, Ky., 40253, and include $2.24, which is the cost of postage.

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