30 Under 30: Intellectuals

This post continues our 30 Under 30 series. We are spotlighting 30 young Catholics under the age of 30 who are making a difference in our Church and in our world.

We received hundreds of nominations for this series. There were so many amazing nominations, and I have so much hope for our Church! In the end, we can only spotlight 30 folks. We don’t claim that these are the best 30 young Catholics in the world, but 30 people who are doing awesome things and who we wanted to highlight.

We will release the 30 under 30 series in 5 different posts, each featuring a different category of honorees.

Marc Barnes

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Websites: BadCatholic, Harmonium Project, and 1flesh.org

Organization Facebook Page: BadCatholic and Harmonium Project

Personal Twitter Account: @BadCatholicBlog

Want to know who our youngest 30 under 30 honoree is? Marc Barnes, better known as Bad Catholic, takes that honor. An English major at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Barnes has perhaps the most popular Catholic blog today, hosted on the Catholic channel on Patheos.com. Through his edgy, humor filled, philosophically driven rants, Barnes reaches atheists, agnostics, young secularist, and Catholics of all stripes.

Barnes works goes beyond just his blog. He has also written for Crisis Magazine, LiveAction.org, StrangeNotions and his work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal. He started 1flesh.org, a grassroots movement in opposition to artificial contraception, promoting natural methods of family planning. The site provides a much needed re-articulation and rebranding of National Family Planning for the mainstream.

Most recently, Marc and a group of his friends started the Harmonium Project. The mission of the Harmonium Project is to create an up-and-coming music center in the heart of Steubenville to restore and revitalize the now impoverished downtown. The project hopes to host weekly concerts to bring students (and their money) to downtown Steubenville. It also hopes to create after-school music programs to provide free help to the city’s youth. You can donate here to this very worthy project

Mitch Boersma

Age: 27

Occupation: Chief Operating Officer of the Catholic Information Center (CIC)

Website: Catholic Information Center

Organization Social Media: Catholic Information Center (Facebook) and @CICDC (Twitter)

Personal Twitter Account: @MitchBoersma

How can the Catholic Church be a voice in politics today? Mitch Boersma is doing just that in our nation’s capital as the Chief Operating Officer of the Catholic Information Center (CIC) in Washington, DC and co-founder of The Leonine Forum. Originally from Colorado, Mitch holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Dallas and a Master’s degree in Moral Theology and Ethics from the Catholic University of America.

As COO of the Catholic Information Center, Boersma helps them accomplish their mission of making the Catholic Church alive in the hearts and minds of men and women living and working in our nation’s capital. Specifically, the CIC does this through a variety of spiritual, intellectual, and professional program that give DC professionals the tools to live an integrated life and to engage in all areas of human endeavors. As co-founder of the Leonine Forum, Boersma uses the year-long program to give young professionals in Washington a renewed understanding and love for the social teachings of the Church, and supplying them with the spiritual and professional resources necessary to integrate those truths into their personal, professional and civic lives.

Prior to joining the CIC, Mitch held several research positions at the American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC) and worked as an independent writer and researcher on several book-length projects. He is a member of Catholic Voices (2013), a Washington Fellow of the National Review Institute (2012), a Tertio Millenio Seminar Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (2011), and a graduate of the Summer Seminar on Catholic Social Teaching from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (2010)

Joe Heschmeyer

Age: 28

Occupation: Seminarian

Website: Shameless Popery

Personal Facebook page: Joe Heschmeyer

Want a blogger who practices what he preaches? Joe Heschmeyer’s story proves he does just this. A cradle Catholic and a native of Kansas City, Heschmeyer had a reversion to the faith occurred when his friend continually answered his questions about Catholicism. This love of truth led Joe to continue his education at the Georgetown University Law School.

During this time, his love of the faith and apologetics grew. He began his widely popular apologetics blog, Shameless Popery. His work in law school led him to a degree and a job as a litigator with a law firm while his work online led him to be featured by Catholic Herald, StrangeNotions, NewAdvent.org, and various other outlets.

Despite all of this and a long-term romantic relationship, Heschmeyer entered seminary with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in 2012. He is currently in his second year of Pre-Theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary as a first-year Pre-Theologian. He continues to blog while also taking part in the seminary’s evangelization team

Trent Horn

Age: 29

Occupation: Catholic Apologist

Websites: Trent Horn and Catholic Answers

Personal Facebook page: Trent Horn

Personal Twitter Account: @Trent_Horn

Looking for the next great Catholic apologist? Check out Trent Horn. A convert to the Catholic faith at the sage of 17, Horn is a graduate of Arizona State University and Franciscan University of Steubenville where he received his Master’s degree.

Since his conversion, Horn has had a passion for explaining and defending the Catholic faith. His professional career in apologetics began as he traveled the country training pro-life advocates on college campuses to engage opponents in compassionate and persuasive dialogue. He also served as the Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Phoenix.

Trent currently serves as a Staff Apologist for Catholic Answers. He is a dynamic and experienced public speaker who has made more than 200 presentations, from high school assemblies to keynote conference talks. He is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live where he specializes in dialogue with pro-choice and atheist callers. He is also the author of Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity published by Catholic Answers Press.

Leah Libresco

Age: 24

Occupation: Blogger and Editorial Assistant at American Conservative

Website: Unequally Yoked

Personal Twitter Account: @leahlibresco

How can Catholics respond to atheists? Leah Libresco used to be one so she probably has a few ideas for you. Raised an atheist, Leah attended Yale University as a Political Science major. (Fun side note: she also was a Jeopardy Semifinalist in the College Championship in 2010).

At Yale, Leah was surprised to meet smart, creative Christians. Through various relationships and reading the likes of Lewis and Chesterton, Leah began to learn more and more about the Catholic faith. She found that the Catholic worldview and metaphysics matched her understanding of the world better than the cobbled together virtue ethics/neo-platonism she believed in. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012. Her conversion unfolded through her incredibly popular blog, Unequally Yoked.

Libresco continues to write about faith, philosophy, math, and musical theatre on her blog while working as an Editorial Assistant for the American Conservative. Her work has been has appeared in First Things, The Huffington Post, and Strange Notions.

Meg McDonnell

Age: 29

Occupation: Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Institute

Organization Facebook pages: Women Speak for Themselves and I Believe in Love

Personal Twitter Account: @MegTMcDonnell

What is the Catholic Church doing for women and children in crisis? Meg McDonnell’s work is a great witness. An alumna of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, Meg is the Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Institute. This Washington DC non-profit’s mission is to assist especially lower middle-income Americans to re-connect sex, marriage, and childbearing for the sake of reducing a host of social ills including entrenched poverty, non-marital pregnancies, abortion, single-parenting, and the deinstitutionalization of marriage.

McDonnell plays instrumental roles in the Chiaroscuro Institute’s programs—Women Speak For Themselves and I Believe in Love. Women Speak for Themselves is an initiative to create awareness of women’s religious freedom, especially in light of the recent HHS mandate. The initiative has an open letter with 42,000 women signers from all 50 states and various political and religious persuasions and professions. I Believe in Love is an online web magazine which allows young Americans to tell their stories about love, relationships, marriage, and parenting.

In 2011, Meg was one of two recipients of a full-time Robert Novak Journalism fellowship. During her fellowship, Meg researched marriage trends among young Americans and interviewed hundreds of young Americans and leading experts in the area. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Public Discourse, and other secular and religious news outlets.

Check out other 30 under 30 posts by category:

Kevin Cotter
Kevin Cotter
Kevin Cotter is the Executive Director of Programming at Amazing Parish. He previously served with FOCUS for 11 years as a missionary and Sr. Director of Curriculum. Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Benedictine College and a master’s degree in Sacred Scripture from the Augustine Institute. He is the author of numerous FOCUS resources and Bible studies and several books, including Dating Detox with his wife Lisa and Called: Becoming a Disciple in a Post-Christian World. Kevin currently resides in Denver, CO with his wife, Lisa, and their children.

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