Skip to content

Episode 2 – The Cultivation of Purpose with Leah Darrow: Faith, Farming and Vocation

We’re in the phase of renewal with Leah, Ricky and the family in episode two of Cultivation of Purpose. We get a little deeper into why they are doing the particular tasks they have picked as farmers and how their kids fit into the mix. Darnell shares his perspective of Big Family Farm and why what they are doing matters. We see family life overlap with the grind of chores each day.

This is a raw look at what it’s like when someone genuinely follows their dream - as difficult or confusing as it may seem. The hard parts of being on mission with God show themselves in unexpected ways for Leah and Ricky. You’ll see moments of beauty with their children and success on the farm, but then also immense sadness with the miscarriage of their baby. Leah helps us ponder and sift through the intricacies of renewal while living your dream in episode 2.

Episode 1 – The Cultivation of Purpose with Leah Darrow: Faith, Farming and Vocation

Episode One of the three-part series, produced by University of St. Thomas Houston’s MAX Studios, featuring Leah Darrow, her husband Ricky Soldinie and their family becoming new farmers on Big Family Farm in Fordland, Missouri.

In episode one, you get to know Leah, Ricky, their kids and the 80-acre property they now call home. They left the suburbs of St. Louis for a simpler, albeit more challenging, life as farmers. You’ll see a day in the life of this family - feeding chickens and pigs, getting food on the table, and prepping for their main source of income in agri-tourism - four Saturdays in October called Pumpkin Days.

MAX Studios’ Bridget Richardson and Darnell Miller join them on the farm and ponder their own questions about this new exploration for this family on Big Family Farm.

Throughout the episode, Leah and Ricky continue to call you to take stock of your own life and be aware of what may be missing for you. Ask yourself the challenging question, “Are you happy?”

Trailer: Upcoming Series on Big Family Farm

God has a plan for your life, but sometimes His path takes you on twists and turns you didn’t see coming. Check out the trailer for the three-part series, produced by University of St. Thomas Houston’s MAX Studios, featuring Leah Darrow sharing about the immensely different changes she’s made in her life and why.

Leah and her husband Ricky decided to radically change everything - moving from the suburbs of St. Louis to create “Big Family Farm,” an 80-acre property near Fordland, Missouri - pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

The powerful film series is a raw look at life that is intended to be both refreshing and empowering. Leah and Ricky hope that by sharing their own story, the triumphs, failures and unforeseen suffering, they might inspire others to dedicate their lives to be aware of what God may be calling them to in their lives.

The Great BIG Christmas Show

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! We are so excited to share this incredible show with you!

This half-hour special is brimming with traditions and on-location vignettes that offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how these influencers celebrate Advent and Christmas. We hope this video fills you with the warmth of family, faith, and joy for a more intentional celebration of the season. We feel blessed to be able to share these beautiful Advent/Christmas messages as we prepare for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

The show will be a joyful performance of both original and classic music, poetic compositions, and recipes from Catholic artists, friends, and family. Decorate cookies with the kids in the rustic farm kitchen of former model Leah Darrow and her family. Reflect on the beauty of the Incarnation with James Matthew Wilson, an influential Catholic philosopher and poet who has been featured in countless publications. Make a joyful noise with Fr. Rob Galea and Fr. David Michael as they sing songs to get you into the Christmas spirit. Also, see some Houstonians share their traditions and help you ponder the true meaning of these seasons.

Experience all this and much more while learning the beauty of living the rhythm of the liturgical Year during this heartfelt special.

Meet the Host - Fr. David Michael Moses

Fr. David Michael Moses is a priest in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. A quick and avid learner, Fr. David Michael graduated with his Bachelor’s degree at 18, an age when most students graduate from high school. After being accepted into several law schools, Fr. David Michael ultimately felt called to the priesthood and was ordained in 2019 at the young age of 25. He currently serves as the parochial vicar at Christ the Good Shepherd in Spring, TX. He enjoys writing music, and his “Concerts for Life” have collectively raised over $640,000 to assist women in crisis pregnancies. He is also active on social media, with a collective following of over 140,000, where he shares stories from priestly life.

Other Guests

Leah Darrow is the founder of Power Made Perfect, an acclaimed personal development program, where she uses her decades of mindset coaching and experience in creating lasting change to help others find the time and courage to lead lives of true freedom, contribution, and mission with God. A former model on reality TV, Leah experienced a life-changing conversion back to the Catholic faith in 2005. An entrepreneur at heart, Leah has a driving passion to lead and inspire others to embrace Christ’s mercy and has created a beautiful sisterhood of women striving to be a light in the world. A sought-after speaker, Leah has been featured on numerous top podcasts, as well as appearances on Fox News, Yahoo Finance, Daily Wire, The Blaze, EWTN, and The Christian Post.

James Matthew Wilson is the Cullen Foundation Chair of English Literature and the Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Saint Thomas Houston. The author of eleven books, including his most recent collection of poems, "The Strangeness of the Good" (Angelico, 2020), Wilson is the recipient of numerous awards for his writings on art and culture, including the Hiett Prize and the Parnassus Prize. Wilson serves also as the poet-in-residence of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, the editor of Colosseum Books, and the poetry editor of Modern Age magazine.

Deacon Phillip Jackson is the Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. His office is responsible for all aspects associated with the formation of deacon candidates and the ongoing formation and coordination of the Archdiocese's permanent diaconate community, which is the largest in the United States. He is also a deacon at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston.

Steffani Aquila is the Director of Liturgical Life at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston. A former youth minister, she is the founder and creator of His Girl Sunday, a popular blog about liturgical living. Her desire is to share how we live the Catholic faith and tradition in our home and with our community. She is an alumna of University of St. Thomas-Houston and has her undergraduate degree in Education and Theology, and a Master's Degree in theology. Over the span of about 12 years I was given unique experiences to teach or minister to every age group between 1st and 12th grade.

Fr. Rob Galea is an ordained Catholic Priest and is currently serving in Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria after moving to Australia from Malta, his home country. He is a singer and songwriter with an international fan base, has written songs for World Youth Day 2016 and 2019, and has performed for Pope Francis. Apart from a series of recordings and CD releases, Fr. Rob has 73,000 subscribers on YouTube where he features many of his songs and homilies. He was a contestant in Australia's 2015 The X Factor and is the the founder and serving director of FRG Ministry.

Jonathan Blevins is a Catholic husband and father of three. He began live streaming his favorite video game, Fortnite, in 2018. He is the founder of the Bearded Blevins Stream Team to take his Twitch channel full time with the mission to build a positive community. He is also the founder and CEO of Little Flower Media Company. He is the first partnered streamer to be sponsored by a university (University of St. Thomas-Houston) and he is in the top 1 percent of streamers with 57,000+ followers on Twitch.

Dr. Richard L. Ludwick is the 9th president of the University of St. Thomas Houston. He received his BA in history from the University of Evansville, an MA in higher education administration from Teachers College of Columbia University (New York), a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney Law School, and a Doctor of Education in policy management and organization of higher education administration from the University of Oregon (Eugene). He and his wife reside in Houston and are the proud parents of two adult children and four grandchildren.

Darnell Miller is the Creative Director of MAX Studios and is an alumnus (undergraduate and graduate) of University of St. Thomas-Houston.

Video Games as a Vehicle for Community

Videos games affect all of us - whether we play or we interact with someone who plays regularly. They are a big part of our culture from playing Fortnite on a PC to Candy Crush on your phone. Taking time to think about how video games can be a vehicle for community and then, in a bigger way, a way to minister to others, can literally change the world.

MAX Studios Creative Director Darnell Miller sits down with Jonathan Blevins, @BeardedBlevins , a popular Catholic Twitch streamer and CEO of Little Flower Media, and Joseph Bionat, formerly Marketing Coordinator with Word on Fire Institute and now Director of Marketing with St. Ann Parish in Dallas, Texas, to talk about video games and how they affect the culture.

They discuss how gaming affects young people, the real stats about who is actually playing video games, the difference between people being non-playable characters and a real life person, anonymity versus authenticity online, and how Christians are called to be who God called them to be while interacting in digital spaces. They also shout out Catholic creative organizations like Flocknote, Hallow and Word on Fire's "God and Gaming" YouTube series.

Extras:
The Bearded Blevins Stream Team

Building Online Community - God and Gaming Episode Five featuring Jonathan Blevins | Word on Fire Institute

Flocknote

Hallow App

TRAILER: The Great Big Christmas Show

It's the Advent season and with Christmas right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to get together with some of our favorite people to share their traditions and the holiday spirit! Fr. David Michael Moses hosts the show sharing holiday stories, songs and traditions. We are also joined by special guests including Leah Darrow, Fr. Rob Galea, Jonathan "Bearded" Blevins and others!

The show is set to go live on YouTube on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12 at 7pm CT. Join us for a fun celebration of Advent leading into the Christmas Season as we prepare our hearts for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ!

Around the Halo – Season 2: Episode 6

THIS episode! It's Around the Halo episode six and, although we're missing Jonathan "Bearded Blevins," we've got some great guests for you tonight!

Inspired by the popular show on ESPN, Around the Horn, Around the Halo features four guests who weigh in on topics about sports, pop culture and the news.

Hosted by Little Flower Media COO Matt McClure, guests include Joel Stepanek, father, Vice President of Parish Services for Life Teen International, author and speaker; Darnell Miller, Creative Director of MAX Studios at University of St. Thomas-Houston; Bobby Angel, father, Catholic writer, speaker and podcaster; and Dr. Alex Gotay, father of three, national teen and young adult speaker, author and youth minister at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Houston, Texas.

Here are the chapters:
2:05 Introductions
6:33 Bonus Chat: Daylight Savings Time
10:18 Rules of ATH
11:02 The Most Wonderful Time of Year
20:23 Unfriended
27:51 Wrong Place, Wrong Time
38:20 Wolves
50:46 I Want to be a Billionaire
56:25 A Winner is Named

Broken People, Holy People

Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

 

This is an episode about Saints. Men and Women who lived ordinary and extraordinary lives filled with heroic virtue.

First we hear from Darnell, who tells the story of an altogether uneventful car accident and the one moment that he can't seem to shake.

Then we talk to Meg Hunter-Kilmer, an itinerant missionary who travels the world, living out of her car, talking about her love for Christ. She has also written the book on saints, two of them actually, and loves to connect people to those in heaven who are already praying for them.

She tells us about her life as a missionary and how she came to know and love the saints she does.

Then in Who’s That Saint, we are doing something a bit different, we let Meg tell the story of a saint whose story has been pulling on her heart, Venerable Alfonse Gallegos.

 

Links:
Meg Hunter Kilmer Website

Meg Hunter Kilmer Instagram
@mhunterkilmer

 

Protagonists of Change is a podcast that tells real stories from everyday people working to become Saints. Using music and sound effects to create vibrant soundscapes, this podcast is an immersive experience that draws the listener deeply into stories of joy, mercy and hope. 

Marriage and Dads: In Studio w/ Fr. Ken Geraci

Desiring a fruitful marriage is something many young adults yearn for in life. So how do you start planning for that - as a single college student or a young professional?

In this in studio conversation, Fr. Ken Geraci, CPM, with the Fathers of Mercy, talks with MAX Studios' Bridget Richardson and Darnell Miller about examples of God-centered marriages and how you can strive for that when you're young. Fr. Ken also encourages young men to start thinking about what kind of husband and father they want to be. He encourages single young men to embody the principles of a good man today, so they can be a well-founded husbands and fathers in the future. He also shares a meaningful story about his friend Travis caring for his wife.

Fr. Ken Geraci, CPM

Blessings, Parties and the Reality of Turning 15

Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Today's stories are about coming of age, that wonderful and awkward time in life when you think you know everything but you really know nothing.

Darnell opens up with a story about manhood, or rather, the transition into manhood, and all the insecurity that comes with it until one is rooted in their faith.

Then we hear from Alejandra Herrera, the founder and director of Bendecida XV, an apostolate that walks with young Latinas as they prepare for their Quinceneras, shares the beauty of the Catholic faith and liturgy, the richness of Latino culture and tradition, and uncovers the symbolic meaning of the Quincenera celebration. She shares the story of her 15th birthday and how she came to recognize her call to service and ministry.

Then in Who's That Saint, we look in to the life of Santa Maria de Jesus Sacramentado, a woman who lived a life of service to the poor and sick, who also happens to be Mexico's first canonized female Saint!

Bendecida XV Website 

Learn more about Santa Maria de Jesus Sacramentado

 

Protagonists of Change is a podcast that tells real stories from everyday people working to become Saints. Using music and sound effects to create vibrant soundscapes, this podcast is an immersive experience that draws the listener deeply into stories of joy, mercy and hope. 

Logo - University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas

maxstudios@stthom.edu
Copyright © 2023 University of St. Thomas.
3800 Montrose | Houston, TX 77006
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Clery Act | Title IX | Consumer Information