In this episode of Open Door Policy, Dr. Marlon De La Torre, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, shares his story – one that, at times, might sound like the words from a great audiobook. Listen as he describes his journey from a culturally Catholic youth, to an adventurous and faithful disciple, following wherever God leads him, all the way from California to Ohio, and, most recently, to right here in Detroit.
In this episode of Open Door Policy, Dr. Marlon De La Torre, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, shares his story – one that, at times, might sound like the words from a great audio book. Listen as he describes his journey from a culturally Catholic youth, to an adventurous and faithful disciple, following wherever God leads him, all the way from California to Ohio, and, most recently, to right here in Detroit.
(0:18) Emily and Fr. Patrick opens by talking about their plans for Lent. Emily reflects on Archbishop Vigneron’s Guideposts for Lent her desire to live the Lent that God is calling her to have, and Fr. Patrick shares his intention to pray a holy hour to determine a plan for his Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
(2:22) Emily introduces guest, Dr. Marlon De La Torre, an avid reader, family man, and experienced boxer, who joined the Archdiocese of Detroit as the Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship last fall.
(3:55) Fr. Patrick asks Dr. De La Torre to share his story. Born in a border town, Calexico, CA, he grew up in a culturally Catholic Hispanic family, not regularly attending Mass, where most reverence was directed to Our Lady of Guadalupe, over the Lord. He describes life growing up in a border town on a farm as his first exposition to God, as he recognized the abundance found in nature as something that could only be attributed to God.
(7:26) When he was in fifth grade, Dr. De La Torre’s mother decided that he should receive his First Holy Communion and, shortly after, his grandmother determined that he should go to Catholic School. He describes his first day of Catholic school as beginning with a religion class, where, having never opened a Bible in his life, he was instructed to open his Bible to John 6:37. Out of fear of being disciplined for not turning to the right page, he prayed in a panic, to find the right passage before his teacher arrived at his desk. When he did, in fact, arrive at the right passage, Dr. De La Torre recognized that God was in fact alive and had a plan for his life, because He responded even to this brief, but urgent prayer.
(11:43) Dr. De La Torre discusses how, during this time, he began to dive into literature in a way that cultivated his great love for reading, which persists to this day; and, being in Catholic school, he began to see the Catholic context around many of the classic texts read, which spurred him on in his faith.
(16:13) Dr. De La Torre describes his next step as deciding to pursue a degree with the Franciscan University of Steubenville, carrying the intention to do something with God. He shares about his journey from California to Ohio, noting how when the Lord asks us to do something, we have to leave something behind. Thinking Dr. De La Torre chose God over family, his father didn’t speak to him for many years following his departure. He considers this bitter challenge very much part of the journey that God had carved out for his journey as a joyful, missionary disciple.
(22:06) Prompted by Fr. Patrick, Dr. De La Torre shares a brief anecdote involving Fr. Michael Scanlan, former president of Franciscan University of Steubenville. During a brief exchange, shortly after arriving on campus, when Dr. De La Torre was questioning his decision to leave his family and attend the university, Fr. Scanlan reminded him that God brought him there, would never leave him, and prayed over him. He identifies this moment, the third of various “surges” – the first on his first day of Catholic school, the second on the Kairos retreat, and the third at Franciscan University.
(26:22) Emily asks how these past experiences and “surges” direct his efforts as the Archdiocese’s Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship. Dr. De La Torre describes his role now as to represent Jesus and His love clearly. He claims his role as one of many instruments in the beautiful symphony of God.
(29:47) Fr. Patrick highlights the beauty of the way in which Dr. De La Torre views his role, and how his pure desire to represent Jesus well has the power to affect how other people will encounter Him. Emily comments on how inspiring it is to hear that Dr. De La Torre sees his role as a simple one – to be Jesus.
(36:02) Dr. De La Torre shares a story in which he challenged men at a conference to be faithful caretakers of their children, first and foremost, by praying for them, highlighting how this work is not complex, but is simple.
(38:49) Fr. Patrick asks Dr. De La Torre has been captivating his heart in the Unleash the Gospel movement, since arriving here in the Archdiocese. In response, Dr. De La Torre shares a story about theologian Frank Sheed, who would speak with his arms open and proclaim the glory of God in a way that captivated people. This image of Sheed, arms wide open, boldly sharing the Gospel is the image Dr. De La Torre holds in his mind for the movement here in Detroit. Fr. Patrick suggests that if we pray for the apostolic boldness described in the letter, we are empowered to do things to share the faith that we wouldn’t do otherwise. Emily notes the power of openness and vulnerability in the image for Unleash the Gospel that Dr. De La Torre described.
(43:41) Dr. De La Torre leads a closing prayer.