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When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary - Interview with Cristina Barba on the Petrus Development Show

In this episode, Andrew visits with Cristina Barba, President of The Culture Project International. Andrew and Cristina discuss her personal and professional background and how The Culture Project came to be. They also discuss the struggles and hopes of starting The Culture Project and the issues they are seeing in schools as they strive to restore culture through the experience of virtue.


Show Notes:

Cristina Barba is the President of The Culture Project International

Personal

Cristina is the oldest of four, grew up near Philadelphia and was introduced to the Pro-Life movement at an early age. As she gained knowledge of the truth and horror of abortion, her activism in the pro-life movement grew which in turn meant her faith was deepened and grew as well.

If we lived out our sexuality according to Christ’s plan, we wouldn’t have the problem of abortion. We not only have an abortion problem; we have a sexuality problem and an identity problem.

During high school she attended Steubenville conferences and then in college at Penn State she helped renew the pro-life group on campus. Both of these continued to form her and grow her faith and passion.

She grew up outside of Philadelphia. While she felt different from other families around hers, she thought her beliefs were ordinary. Her family sought out community of like-minded, faith filled families. The ordinary is now the extraordinary. How do we teach that to our kids and family? What felt ordinary growing up, now in today’s culture feels extraordinary.

The Culture Project

The Culture Project tries to get to the root of the issues of today.

Starting The Culture Project, life is definitely an adventure. The call to mission was easy. The struggle was everything else in learning how to create and run a Catholic non-profit. All the legal jargon and finding the right people for the right roles was definitely a struggle. The passion was not lacking, the knowledge of running it was been challenging. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

The Culture Project is a movement of Young Adult Catholic Lay People who love their faith and want to share it. They want to speak the truth into life. Speaking to high school and middle schools across the country.

It starts with me deepening my faith and then inviting other in.

While doing this work, one of the most shocking discoveries was and is talking about sexting in middle schools. It doesn’t matter the demographics of the school to find that it’s prevalent all over the country.

It’s so hopeful how open these kids are to The Culture Project message that you don’t have to exploit yourselves.

The Missionaries

The missionaries are recent college graduates that make a year-long commitment to the ministry. They go through boot camp like training on how to eloquently and lovingly articulate the truth. Across the board, they would say the highlight and challenge is the community life, the daily grind. They are receiving formation so that they can go out and do.

It’s amazing to see what they are doing post-service, how it has impacted them and where they want to go and what they want to do and how they can keep serving.

The grand goal is for culture reformation. And it starts with ourselves. The Culture Project asks for a moment in their lives so that we can pour into their lives and faith.

Funding Model for The Culture Project

It’s important that everyone understands it takes money. The Culture Project gets funding from:

  • Contracts with the Diocese
  • Local community and local church
  • The missionaries themselves
  • And The Culture Project headquarters fund raises to match

During the early fundraising days we were running on faith. Angel donors come, but you have to learn that you can’t rely on them.

They created regional development councils that have taken ownership of the mission and the passion. They local councils are getting the community involved and, in Toledo, have started running their fundraising event.

The Culture Project is currently in LA, San Francisco, Cleveland, Toledo and Philadelphia.

Cristina had the honor of meeting Pope Francis through a Christ-led encounter with Bishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, whom they met while on retreat. He then brought The Culture Project to Pope Francis’ attention and added them to his prayer list.

Personal

Cristina likes to travel. One of her big fear in being called to The Culture Project was not making enough income to be able to travel. She was reminded of a quote from Pope Benedict, “Young people, do not be afraid of Christ, He takes away nothing, and gives everything.” She has been able to travel and see the world through her work with The Culture Project. She is able to immerse herself in the local community when she travels and it allows her experience to feel more authentic.

Book Recommendations:

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Clan of the Cave Bear, Earth’s Children Series by Jean M. Auel

Lightning Round:

If you could raise money for anyone, who and at what time?: The Culture Project. It needs to be soul transforming work to motivate me into fundraising.

If you could have a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be: Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus

Is there enough money for all the non-profits out there?: Absolutely. If its hard to be funded, we need to look if there are better ways. Look at the reasons its hard and being reasonable and responsible.

If you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be: Be not afraid. Trust your gut. If God want it to succeed, it will.

Who are three people who have most influenced you in your professional life: Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, John Stanton

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again?: Yes

Andrew’s Takeaways:

  • Cristina did not receive a call to start a nonprofit, but a call to mission. That call turned into a plan to build an organization with a team. 
  • Everyone has some skin in the game. The Diocese, missionaries, staff, and local residents are all investing in the organization and building it up. 
  • God equips the called. Cristina had to learn sound business practices and build a competent team to make the organization successful.

How to contact Cristina, www.thecultureproject.org or [email protected]

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