The Catholic Church has had a rough couple of decades. Can a 51-year-old layman from Westminster help turn things around? The pope thinks so.
On a recent summer morning, Curtis Martin prepares to spread the Word. He has driven from his Westminster home to the Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby, where he’ll speak to a few dozen college kids, who are there for a weeklong summit on Catholicism. A husky 6-foot-3 with neatly cropped dark hair, graying temples, and a warm smile, Martin waits patiently while a worker helps connect Martin’s computer to the projector. The first slide of his PowerPoint presentation is a photograph of Earth taken from space, but the projector isn’t working as his audience begins to enter the room.
A woman introduces Martin by asking how many have heard of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Half the youngsters raise their hands and a few clap. She yields the pulpit to Martin, the group’s president and founder, who greets them by saying, somewhat jokingly, “I’m sure I’ll say a number of things that will confuse you wildly.”
Dressed in jeans and a navy sport coat, Martin begins. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in your lifetime it has gone from relatively respectable and even honorable to be a committed Catholic, to actually being a little bit questionable,” he says. “Some of the Catholic positions are perceived as bigoted; they run the risk of being declared illegal. And so we have to recognize that there’s been a real shift in the culture.” A few moments later, the projector is fixed; now these students, Martin hopes, will be able to more clearly comprehend his picture of the world.