Scott Warden
January 30, 2024 // Bishop

Deacon to Bring ‘Hope and Purpose’ to Servus Omnium Lecture

Scott Warden

Because of the dedication and mission of three Catholic organizations, members of the Fort Wayne community will have the opportunity to be formed and inspired as they begin their Lenten journeys, as Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the University of Saint Francis, and the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana have teamed up to host the Servus Omnium Lecture on Tuesday, February 13 (Fat Tuesday), at 7 a.m. at the Saint Francis Performing Arts Center in downtown Fort Wayne.

Founded in 2013 by former Saint Francis colleagues Matt Smith and Lance Richey, the event was canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19, but Smith, now the Chief Development Officer for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said he and Richey, the Interim President of Saint Francis, saw a desire to resume the annual Mardi Gras breakfast event.

“We’d had some folks in the community ask if we were planning on brining the event back,” Smith told Today’s Catholic. “It’s such a great way to kick off Lent and provides attendees with an inspiring message. So we got together and invited the Catholic Community Foundation to be part of it, too. We thought, what a great partnership among three of the leading Catholic apostolates in the diocese to show a bit of thought leadership.”

DCNS file photo
Deacon Larry Oney, founder of Hope and Purpose Ministries, will offer the keynote address on Tuesday, February 13, at the Servus Omnium Lecture at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center in Fort Wayne.

Smith added: “We see it as a way to help people, especially leaders of businesses and nonprofits to see how they can integrate their faith life with their professional life. Oftentimes, we’ve sort of siloed those two things, especially in the business world, but that doesn’t need to be the case, regardless of what faith tradition someone practices.”

Smith and the other organizers of the event invited internationally renowned speaker and author Deacon Larry Oney to give the lecture. Deacon Oney is the co-founder of Hope and Purpose Ministries, which aims to be a missionary-centered apostolate with the goal of expanding the Kingdom of God on earth through dynamic preaching and teaching.

Seeing a desperate need for the culture to have a deeper engagement with faith, Deacon Oney and his wife, Andi, founded Hope and Purpose Ministries six years ago.

“We thought, what do people really need?” Deacon Oney   told Today’s Catholic. “Where are we with people, even people of faith, and how do we encounter people who don’t have any faith?” They key thing people today are lacking, they discovered, is hope. And then “once you get your hope in the person of Jesus Christ,” Deacon Oney said, “then you need to be asking the next question: What is my purpose? What is my divine mission upon the earth?”

Rooted in Scripture, the focus of Hope and Purpose Ministries is threefold, Deacon Oney shared: First, to expand the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 10:7); second, to remind those he serves that God wants us to have an abundant life (Jn 10:10); and third, that God desires our good – that He has “plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jer 29:11). The last one, Deacon Oney explained, “is really the essence of our ministry.” He paraphrases what God is saying in Jeremiah: “I plan to bless you, not to curse you. I plan to build you up, not to tear you down, but I plan to give you a future full of hope,” Deacon Oney said. “And He says this: When you call on to me, I’ll hear you. When you look for me with all of your heart, I’ll let you find me, and I will change your life, and I will change your situation, says the Lord.”

At the Servus Omnium Lecture, Deacon Oney will challenge those in attendance with his presentation, “Called and Sent for Such a Time as This,” during which he will speak about “going into the breach with excellence.” 

He said, “the spirit of excellence is waning now, but business people, and all of us, we have to do whatever it is that God is calling us to do in an excellent way, and I believe there’s power there, because when people see excellence, they realize something. Now you can give your witness to your faith in Jesus Christ. But do the work that God has called you to do. You’re satiated in life in an excellent way, so now go into the breach in an excellent way.”


February 13, from 7-9 a.m.

USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St., Fort Wayne

$20 in advance, $25 at the door, or $150 for a table


7 a.m., Blessing by Bishop Rhoades and Opening Prayer 

7:10 a.m., Mardi Gras Breakfast

7:45-8:45 a.m., Deacon Larry Oney, “Called and Sent for Such a Time as This”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.