An interview with Fr. Cassidy Stinson on the priesthood, the Alberione Project and #BreakTheChains
A few weeks ago, I got to chat with Fr. Cassidy Stinson, a recently ordained priest of the Diocese of Richmond. I have found that relatively young priests such as Fr. Stinson are incredibly creative when it comes to using the media to share the Gospel with a weary world. Fr. Stinson and I discussed the Alberione Project and the #BreakTheChains initiative that is intended to heal the culture from the scourge of pornographic images. I hope that you are inspired by Fr. Stinson’s remarks here.
1) Please briefly share with us your journey of faith.
Well, there is a very long version, but I’ll leave that out. I guess the most interesting thing would be to say that I am from a family of converts. I joined the Church when I was 12, when my parents and I converted. I come from a long line of Southern Baptists, and my grandfather was actually a Southern Baptist pastor. My faith really took off when I started studying at the College of William and Mary, and that was where I started thinking that I might be called to be a priest. After that, I’ve spent the last six years in seminary, studying and being formed to be a priest along with the other men there, and that confirmed my vocation up to the point of my ordination on June 1 of this year.
2) You are active on social media, and began the Alberione Project – what is that, and why is social media increasingly important within the modern era?
The Society of Saint Paul and the Daughters of Saint Paul were founded by Bl. James Alberione to promote the Gospel through the media, and the Alberione Project both takes its name and is largely inspired by his legacy. The Church teaches that priests are called to use the media as needed to support our work of evangelization, but we’ve often found that many parishes are unsure of how to do that in an effective way. To help accomplish that goal, Deacon Anthony Ferguson and I began the Alberione Project as seminarians at the Theological College at The Catholic University of America as a media literacy formation program for our fellow seminarians. This program has both exterior and interior dimensions; on the inside of the seminary, for example, we invite guest speakers who provide spiritual resources to form seminarians as a whole, suggest ways our personality or parish ministry can be expressed through the media, and so forth. On the external dimension, we also have a podcasting apostolate as a way for seminarians to have hands-on experience at actually evangelizing through the media. Our hope is that this program will ultimately help guys to think outside of the box once they’re actively involved in their future ministry. You can learn more about the Alberione Project and its implications in the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Standard article by Kelly Sankowski, “Podcasting Priests and Seminarians Seek to Use Media as Evangelization Tool” (June 6, 2019).
3) What is your favorite scriptural passage, and why?
John 12:32, which is when Christ says “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” We have to remember to keep the Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Cross at the heart of our lives, because when we do that, everything and everyone else in our lives will be drawn to him.
4) What is #BreakTheChains, and why is this message so important as far as purity and chastity in the modern era?
I can’t take credit for the hashtag – another friend came up with it, but I have tried to help spread it. Fairly early on in my priesthood, and even before becoming a priest, I was aware of how many people are struggling with pornography and its effects. So, I have been taking that intention to my Holy Hours and praying for that specific intention. I have spoken with friends from seminary, and we realize that everyone needs to pray for those who have used pornography, become addicted to it, and even for those in that industry who are caught up in it. It is all about prayer, and there has been an enormous response from those who have joined in the campaign in different ways. ... It is good to entrust this to Our Lady, since she is such a powerful intercessor for purity, and to draw us to her Son. Please join us in praying, so that we can make this prayer a part of your life. I would love to see that as a part of our social media culture, too, since there has been so much under attack there.
5) As a relatively young – and recently ordained – priest, what hopes do you have for the future of the Church?
I have a great deal of hope for the future of the Church, because when I look at my own generation, and even those who are younger than I, I see a great desire to participate in the universal call to holiness, and that is manifesting itself in a great desire for real renewal. I am constantly encouraged by the faithful witness of the other young people in my life, because they are both the present and the future of the Church. Even in times when the Church is not in the majority, and our outlook is not the most common, there is still so much goodness happening.