It was a special kind of home coming for Sydney-born Matt Fradd, as his anticipated appearance at the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Summer Series attracted sellout crowds and drew rave reviews from the thousands that gathered to hear him speak.
For Matt, the chance to evangelise in the place of his birth, still makes him emotional.
“I’ll remember this forever,” he said. “I mean, being from Australia and coming back, it’s like a comfy pair of slippers. I miss the humour, I miss the people. It’s been wonderful!”
Born in Eastwood in Sydney, Fradd made a whirlwind visit in early December to Australia where he addressed nearly 2000 young Catholics at the sold-out Purpose conference on 9 and 10 December.
And on 6 December, he sharpened the minds of 450 Catholic men at the Men’s Ministry talk and delivered an inspirational keynote address to 400 women for the Catholic Women’s Network.
As Fradd reflected on his time in Australia as a guest of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, he couldn’t help but smile.
“My goodness! I have been so gratified. I’ve seen amazing things!” he said.
For the thousands of Catholic men, women and youth who gathered from around the world to attend events throughout Sydney, all the talk emerging from the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s festival of faith has been about nourishment and transformation.
For Matt, seeing his hometown so energised with their faith has also been a transformative experience.
“I have only heard great things about your archdiocese,” he told The Catholic Weekly.
“These good, solid, masculine men praying on their knees. The Holy Rosary at the cathedral. I’ve met so many good priests.
“And they seem like they take the priesthood seriously, wearing the cassock, which I love.”
But for the popular podcaster and host of Pints with Aquinas who spoke at events for men, women and young people as a guest of the SCE’s Life Marriage Family Team and Sydney Catholic Youth teams, it’s also been an emotional experience.
“What has been moving is to be able to evangelise in the city that I was born” Fradd said.
“And I got to go to the cathedral today and ask for the intercession of the good and brave George Cardinal Pell and that meant a lot to me as well. So, it’s been a real gift.”
As nearly 2000 young people welcomed him to Sydney, Fradd acknowledged the huge attendance numbers that have made Purpose Conference and Summer Series such a huge success across Sydney.
“You know, we can give a moving talk, we can make people laugh, we can make them cry,” Fradd said.
“But Christ gives the growth, the Holy Spirit brings about conversion.”
“So, if any conversion is happening or will happen, it’s all glory to Jesus Christ, you know. I’ve been so inspired.”
Fradd is still shocked that his hit podcast, Pints with Aquinas—which enjoys nearly half a million subscribers in the United States—has gained such a following here.
“Well, I am shocked that so many people have been helped and gratified or I’m gratified that they’ve been so blessed by Pints with Aquinas,” he said.
“When you sit behind the camera, you don’t really know the impact that is happening. But having people come and tell me that they’ve come back to the faith because of the show, that’s what they’re saying or have converted.
“It’s very gratifying and it’s really a boost for me to go back and try to do the best I can with the show.”
Matt is now eagerly anticipating and planning for his return in 2024, but with one difference.
“I’m going to bring back my wife because everybody I meet says you’re fine, but I really love your wife!” he joked.
“And I say, ‘Well, we have that in common.’ I like her more than me as well!
“So if she can come back, I think we’ll probably both come back together.”
Asked if he had anything else to add, Matt did have this one offering:
“Glory to Jesus Christ. And may the Blessed Mother cover this city and the diocese in her immaculate mantle and protect us from the attacks of the enemy.
“So, yes, there is something I’d like to add. And it’s that.”