Radio host broadcasts national show from Holy Angels

| March 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senior Emily Ciabbatoni, center, directs a question to Father Francis Hoffman, known as “Father Rocky,” during a radio broadcast from the school gym March 22. Junior Madeline Esterl, left, and senior David Knutson await their turn. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

What’s the biggest challenge priests face?

Why do Catholics have to confess their sins to a priest?

Would it be wrong for a Catholic to vote “no” on the marriage amendment?

These are just a few of the questions students at Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield asked Father Francis Hoffman, aka “Father Rocky,” during a live broadcast of Relevant Radio’s “Go Ask Your Father” show March 22 at the school.

About once a month, the Chicago priest takes his show on the road to Catholic high schools, and sometimes even to bars, to give teens and young adults an opportunity to ask their faith-related questions.

Previous shows have been broadcast from Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria and Saint Agnes School in St. Paul.

The value of the question-and-answer program, Father Hoffman told The Catholic Spirit, is “it shows that as a church we are willing and able to engage in forthright and honest discussion.

“This is part of evangelization,” he said as his crew packed up its equipment in Holy Angels’ gymnasium after the broadcast.

Some of the questions asked during the show deal with controversial subjects, and not everyone will agree with the church’s positions, Father Hoffman acknowledged. But it’s important for the church to explain its teachings as clearly as possible and engage people in dialogue, he said.

“When Jesus taught, he answered questions — and not everybody always agreed with what he had to say,” Father Hoffman pointed out.

Father Mike Tix, chaplain at Holy Angels, agreed that asking questions in an honest attempt to understand the church’s teachings is healthy for both teens and adults.

Father Rocky answers students’ questions on the air. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

“I think it’s always good for kids to ask questions,” Father Tix said. “Some of the same questions that they’re asking are on the minds of . . . adults as well.”

From politics to chastity

Just before noon, Father Hoffman put on his headphones to begin the hour-long show.

About 150 juniors and seniors wearing navy blue uniforms sat quietly in long lines of folding chairs as students stepped up to the podium to pose their questions to the priest.

Father Hoffman bantered with several students as they took the microphone, asking them if they played sports or if they had their driver’s license yet. A few times he turned the students’ questions back to them, asking what they thought before giving his own answer.

Many of the students’ questions centered on current issues, like same-sex marriage and politics, as well as timeless topics relevant to teenagers, such as chastity.

One student asked if it would be wrong for a Catholic to vote against the proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, which will appear on the ballot in Minnesota and has received the backing of the archdiocese.

When Father Hoffman asked the girl her opinion, she said she didn’t see a problem with voting against the amendment.

After a brief explanation of the church’s teaching on marriage, Father Hoffman turned to the student and said, “You’ve got a good heart, I can see that.” Then he encouraged her to continue thinking about the church’s position on the issue.

Another student asked: “How can we follow church teachings but still live modern lives?”

Father Hoffman gave the example of an avid skier he knows who uses high-tech goggles. He also attends daily Mass, the priest pointed out.

“Don’t be afraid of technology, inventions,” Father Hoffman said, “. . . but always they have to be at the service of the human person.”

After each break in the show, Father Hoffman extolled the benefits of Catholic education. He praised Holy Angels’ average ACT score of 25, the fact that 97 percent of Holy Angels graduates go on to college, and the students’ commitment to community service.

After the show, several students approached Father Hoffman to express their gratitude and to ask additional questions.

“Go Ask Your Father” reaches an estimated 50,000 listeners daily on Relevant Radio’s affiliate stations across the country, according to Father Hoffman.

“Go Ask Your Father” airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. CST on AM 1330. The broadcast from Holy Angels is available for streaming or downloading from Relevant Radio’s website.

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