GREEN BAY — Bishop David Ricken was honored by Relevant Radio for “bringing the hope of Christ” to others. During a banquet at the Legends Club Room in the Lambeau Field Atrium on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Ricken was presented with the inaugural “Christ Brings Hope” Award.
According to the Catholic talk radio network based in Green Bay, the award is presented “to an American Catholic who has worked with extraordinary dedication to bring the good news and hope of Christ to all souls.”
Presenting the award to Bishop Ricken was Thomas Vorpahl, chairman of the board of directors of Starboard Media Foundation, Inc., parent company of Relevant Radio. In presenting the award, Vorpahl credited Bishop Ricken with helping the radio network gain solid financial footing. He did so, Vorpahl explained, by encouraging the network’s leaders to turn to St. Joseph.
“When I first met Bishop Ricken (in 2008), we weren’t completely filled with hope as a missionary, evangelizing apostolate,” said Vorpahl. While the spiritual side of the radio apostolate was in good shape, the financial side was not.
“We shared with him how things were going financially and he introduced us to St. Joseph that day,” Vorpahl said. “He said, ‘When you have a financial need, you need to get yourself a statue of St. Joseph. Have it blessed and put it by the front door and pray a devotion to him every day.”
The following year, Vorpahl said network executives met again with Bishop Ricken and told him they continued to struggle. “We had some serious challenges,” he said. The bishop’s response was for the group to visit St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, Canada. The minor basilica and national shrine dedicated to St. Joseph was founded by St. André Bessette.
St. André “will take you to St. Joseph and Joseph will get you the miracle you need,” Vorpahl recalled Bishop Ricken telling the group. “Fifteen seconds later he said, ‘You know what? I will take you there.”
In February 2010, while the network was conducting its annual fund drive, Bishop Ricken led a pilgrimage to the basilica with board members Vorpahl, Fr. Rocky Hoffman and John Cavil. “We prayed for three days,” said Vorpahl. The first day back, “we raised $525,000 in one day. We haven’t gotten close to that since on any pledge drive.”
He said the group has been back to Montreal on several other occasions. “We’ve gone from a very dark situation to being in a growth mode,” he said. “This is an example of how bishop gives us hope. … From our experience, he has become a real role model on how to be a witness to hope. He’s become that because he believes it, he teaches it and he lives it by his example.”
Bishop Ricken, who is a member of Relevant Radio’s board of directors, told the crowd of about 325 people that he was honored to receive the inaugural award. (Relevant Radio also sponsors the Christ Brings Hope Award in other cities in its network, but it was the first time it was given in Green Bay.)
“I want to say to all people at Relevant Radio, thank you very much for your presence here in our diocese. I also want to thank the founders, those who took a huge risk and decided to do this after intense prayer,” said Bishop Ricken. “I would also like to thank Bishop (Robert) Banks for giving them permission” to establish the network in the Green Bay Diocese.
Bishop Ricken said that radio and social media are “powerful mechanisms to put the good news forward.” While they can be agents of evil, the church has “a great opportunity to use (them) in a very positive way and that’s what Relevant Radio is doing.”
He said he has witnessed how the Gospel message is delivered on Relevant Radio and thanked the network leaders for making it happen. “You are touching minds and hearts every day.