September 1, 2023 | Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than


‘The Preacher to the Popes’ film screening returns to Owensboro by popular demand


How does a professor with advanced degrees in literature and theology go from teaching Church History to arguably the (second-most) influential Christian in the world – for 43 consecutive years? There is only one answer: the Holy Spirit.

We know the pope as someone who inspires the world, but have you ever wondered “Who inspires the pope?” Did you know the pope has an official preacher? This unique position has existed since 1555, with each preacher usually serving only 3-5 years. Raniero Cardinal Cantalamessa, the current Apostolic Preacher, is an anomaly. He has held this position since 1980, making him the only person in history to have held the position for so long.

Cardinal Cantalamessa’s ministry has had a worldwide effect not only on Catholics, but Christians of many denominations. He has helped Orthodox, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Methodists, and Reformation-oriented Christians become drawn to the teachings of the Early Church apostles. His knowledge, insight, and joy in preaching captivates his listeners regardless of their Christian tradition. His engaging smile reflects the love of God, and he inspires every person he teaches to grow in spiritual maturity. He has even addressed the Anglican Church from Westminster Abbey, chatting with the Queen of England after his sermon! 

Cantalamessa’s journey is just one example the Holy Spirit’s desire to work in every baptized Christian, which leads to spiritual maturity and yearning for authentic Christian unity in the process.

In August, Sts. Jospeh and Paul Parish in Owensboro hosted two viewings of a film highlighting the unique events resulting in Cantalamessa’s appointment as Apostolic Preacher, and how God continues to work through him to this day. Parishioners from seven parishes around Owensboro participated. Based upon viewer feedback, we are showing this film again on Sept. 17 from 3-5 p.m. at 609 E. 4th St., Owensboro. All are welcome.

Laura Shoulders is the religious education minister at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro.

Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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