Gloria Purvis, an author, commentator, host and executive producer of her self-titled podcast from America Media, told a capacity crowd of students at Campus Ministry’s CUA on Tap, held Feb. 16, that Catholics have a critical role in defending life, religious liberty, and racial justice.
Purvis saw possibilities for America’s future in the students crowding the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center’s Great Room.
“It’s a sign of hope to me, too, when we have events like this,” said Purvis. “You all are the future.… And you need to decide what kind of future you want to have in this country and how you’re invested in it.”
Father Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., director of Campus Ministry, introduced Purvis, whom he met several years ago while she was co-hosting EWTN’s former radio show “Morning Glory.”
“Grace, but also marriage and family life, led Gloria Purvis to be a public witness to the truth and love of Jesus Christ,” said Father Guilbeau.
Purvis drew in the audience with stories of her becoming Catholic at age 12, her faith journey, and the successful finance career she left behind to become a stay-at-home wife and mother and a prominent Catholic voice for life issues, religious liberty and, more recently, racial justice.
Purvis encountered many opportunities to witness while working for corporate America.
“People would be talking terribly about the Catholic Church because nobody was expecting this Black girl to be a Catholic,” she said. “They were saying all kinds of trash about the Church in front of me and I’d be like ‘actually we don’t believe that.’”
Purvis was always an advocate for the Church’s teaching on the dignity and protection of human life, but began speaking out more about racial justice in 2020 in light of issues happening in the country.
Purvis said learning the United States’ history is important since the effects of slavery, now illegal for over 150 years, still live on through racism. Purvis said that while U.S. Catholics historically have not always been the best witnesses of racial justice, they are well-equipped to lead the country away from intolerance.
“I firmly believe that we as Catholics, with what we believe, with the power of the sacraments, are rightly disposed to be able to address this scourge,” said Purvis. “We’re starting to have the conversations that really matter. We’re starting to see that maybe the way we conceive things needs to change.”
Junior biology major Larissa York said when she looked around the room, she saw Purvis’ words were touching hearts.
“It was incredibly impactful,” said York. “I loved her wit and wisdom. I found myself, like many others, wishing Gloria would have been able to go on for hours. She was an inspiring witness of how we should live out our faith as Catholics.”
Following the talk, students lined up with questions, many asking Purvis how to fight racism in day-to-day life. Purvis said personal spiritual development, learning what the Church teaches, and having honest discussions are the keys to defending human dignity and racial justice.
“Do not ignore going to Mass and receiving (Jesus) in the Eucharist,” said Purvis. “The bread of life, the very energy that we need to be able to do these good works, that comes first.…We need to be more discerning about how we speak and more discerning about the things we speak about.”
Junior nursing major Olivia Meyers, a campus ministry resident minister who helped host the event, said Purvis surpassed her expectations.
“We want to welcome everything that honors human dignity,” said Meyers. “I think that’s an important message for anyone to have and I think she nailed it. She is true to her faith but also super unique and cool.”