I remember one day in seminary around 1975 there being a conversation about Billy Graham. The air was a slightly superior, scoffing one, hinting that as he was neither British by birth nor Catholic in his behaviour, so, well, we didn’t need to worry too much about him. Then one student piped up that actually it was through attending a Billy Graham rally that the Lord had turned his life around in his early twenties. That shut us up!
Billy Graham, perhaps the best known evangelist of the second half of the twentieth century, died 21 February 2018, at the age of 99. An ordained Southern Baptist Minister, he was popular among Christians of all denominations as well as those of other religions. During a public ministry spanning more than half a century, he reached more than 180 countries and preached before more than 200 million people. He was a spiritual advisor to several American presidents and numerous civic and political leaders. Graham met several times with Saint Pope John Paul II and the two were frequent correspondents.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York released the following statement on Graham’s passing: “As anyone growing up in the 1950s and 1960s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham. There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Saviour, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.”
Fr Matthew (with acknowledgements to zenit.org)