By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Spiritual guide and author Father Jacques Philippe will make three appearances in the Iowa City area in February.
“He has a great way of sharing the importance of prayer in our spiritual lives,” said Dan Teets, director of adult faith formation at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City. “His books are quite readable and he offers us opportunities to grow in our faith. …I am excited about Fr. Philippe coming to Iowa City.”
Fr. Philippe has sold over 500,000 copies of his writings on themes including prayer, interior freedom and peace, according to his website. Originally a mathematician and scientist, he joined the Community of the Beatitudes and followed a call to priesthood in the late 1970s. He travels throughout the world for speaking engagements; so far in 2015, the French native has spoken in Australia and New Zealand.
“I have been reading his books for five or six years,” said Mila Grady, a member of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City and coordinator for Fr. Philippe’s visit. “I think he is one of the best Catholic writers because he has a simple writing style, but (he) is also very profound. I find myself reading and rereading his books and continuing to glean something new every time I read them.”
In Iowa City, he will give a talk called “What is True Conversion?” at St. Mary Parish on Feb. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. On Feb. 20, he will offer a men’s retreat titled “Growing in Prayer and Relationship with God” at St. Wenceslaus Parish from 7-9 p.m. Admission to both events is a free-will-donation; registration is not required.
Those interested in buying Fr. Philippe’s books and receiving an autograph may attend a reception following the event at St. Mary.
He will offer a women’s retreat at St. Patrick Church from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 21. The retreat theme is “Trust and Love” in the tradition of St. Therese of Lisieux. Registration forms can be found on the three Iowa City parishes’ websites or by calling Teets at (319) 337-4314, ext. 105 or Grady at (319) 354-8162. Admission is $20; students pay $10. No charge for women religious.
Fr. Philippe’s visit is sponsored by St. Mary Parish, St. Patrick Parish, St. Wenceslaus Parish, Knights of Columbus St. Wenceslaus Council and The Mustard Seed Catholic Books and Gifts, all in Iowa City.
Grady said she heard Fr. Philippe speak in Minnesota last year. “He was fantastic. I think he’s really inspired by the Holy Spirit.” She describes his approach as loving and gentle. “I think he has an uncanny appreciation for the human psyche, and it really blends with his understanding of our faith.”
To prepare for Fr. Philippe’s visit, Iowa City parishes have been offering book studies. However, Teets said it is not necessary to be familiar with the writings in order to enjoy the talks. “Come and see! It may be just where the Holy Spirit is leading you!”