Picture this …
You’re walking down the streets of Hollywood, shopping bags from Rodeo Drive on your left arm and fresh Starbucks in your right hand.
You’re taking in the sights and variety of personalities walking past as you have that classic thought, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
You reach the end of the street and gasp. There, in the middle of a city so saturated by the secular world, is a huge statue of Christ the King. Jesus is holding the world in his hand and standing tall with a crown a top his head.
You are not only mesmerized by this statue and the beautiful church behind it, you are now puzzled by the number of people that are in a seemingly rush to the church.
You wonder if you’ve hit that sweet spot of a random mass about to begin. You follow the hurried crowds … but they are all bypassing the church entrance.
You follow them into the church parking lot and see a tent, chairs and banner — “Catholic Laughs” — curious, you walk up to a table with people selling tickets and ask them to fill you in on what this church party in the middle of Hollywood is all about …
Catholic Laughs is a clean comedy show for the whole family. They feature not only real comedians, but stand-up comedians from “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien’s “Conan,” and “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. They have been officially endorsed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and – bonus! — travel around the country for “fun-raisers,” conferences, and other events.
I had the opportunity to talk with Carl Kozlowski, co-founder and CEO of Catholic Laughs. I was amazed when he said they’ve been averaging 300 tickets or more per show.
Their events have become a hot-ticket because of the guilt-free, quality comedy. An exciting outcome from this ministry to laughter has been the souls whose faith has been affected by the events.
Kozlowski said that at his own parish there have been 3 new additions to RCIA because of the comedy shows. People are coming for the fun and staying for Truth. They are being won over with hospitality and that fun factor the event holds.
Kozlowski shared a story about one of his friends who was raised Hindu but had begun to attend Mass after having gone to the comedy show. At the show, he was impressed by the priest and wanted to begin checking out the Catholic faith. When Kozlowski took his friend to Mass for the first time, at the moment of consecration, he was taken aback by the “glowing gold light” coming down from above the altar. At the time, his friend was not aware of the significance of that moment.
Catholic Laughs is a perfect of example of the New Evangelization. The group gives parishes an opportunity to shake up the people in the pews through laughter, with the hope of bringing them closer to their faith.
Fr. Don Woznicki, New Ethos, helped Catholic Laughs get started. Fr. Woznicki has a passion for promoting what is true, good and beautiful through the varying talents God bestows upon His children.
Fr. Darrin Merlino is Catholic Laugh’s spiritual advisor and aides the group in connecting with priests.
Copyright 2019 Stephanie Stovall