Pre-order Ascend at Amazon

What Reviewers Are Saying

From the judges of the Catholic Press Awards in honoring Ascend with first prize in the category of popular presentation of the Catholic Faith

June 2010

Everything about this book—the design, structure, content, style—is geared to an audience nurtured on visual appeal, technology and rapid assimilation. The content succeeds extremely well in the premise of its subtitle: The Catholic Faith for a New Generation. Anyone who picks it up will find it hard to resist, given its broad scope and lively writing coupled with solid grounding in Scripture.

From Catholic News Service: “stunning graphic design, creative use of typography, evocative profiles, and beautiful photographs”

February 19, 2010

In Ascend, Deacons Eric Stoltz and Vince Tomkovicz of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles present “the Catholic story” for a new generation. Ascend is an invitation to “come and see” the way Christian salvation history has unfolded in the Catholic Church, written by two authors who are unapologetically liberal and committed to both the substance and style of the Second Vatican Council reforms.

From its inclusive, ecumenical language to its stunning graphic design, creative use of typography, evocative profiles, and beautiful photographs, Ascend is clearly intended to communicate with a contemporary audience. It has an excellent glossary, a thematic annotated bibliography, and thoughtful discussion questions.

The authors’ tone is clear, direct, conversational, decidedly nondogmatic, and sometimes breezy. In discussing the primacy of love, for example, they write that “some people–Christians and non-Christians alike–make it seem like Christianity’s nothing but a lot of stupid rules.” That sentence has a footnote: “This isn’t to say we don’t have our share of stupid rules. But these rules are changeable, while the essence of our faith is not. Who will change these rules? You will!”

—Rachelle Linner

From The Evangelist, the newspaper of the Diocese of Albany: “Invite, challenge and transform a generation”

November 19, 2009

Try “Ascend” to rise in faith

“Love, grace and peace to you.”

These words open the introduction of “Ascend.” This invitation by authors Eric Stoltz and Vince Tomkovicz leads readers into a creative, new book about Catholicism, written with flair. For anyone involved in young adult catechetical efforts or evangelizing ministry, “Ascend” is a must-have item.

This is no heavy theological tome filled with cerebral concepts and words. Ascend is written primarily for young people who want to learn more about the faith and who may need to be stimulated to retain what they read.

“Ascend” is made to be carried around, thumbed through and used as a guide. It is a small but hefty volume with eye-catching graphic design. The cover alone is stunning, with the word “Ascend” floating in a blue sky over office towers in Los Angeles.

The slick look is no gimmick: Even the well-informed will learn something from reading this book. The authors, both permanent deacons from Los Angeles, write in clear, concise language meant for a time-challenged and technology-oriented generation.

“Ascend” opens with some basic information, including a “how to read this book” section. Each chapter topic is complemented by Scripture references, art and graphics. There is liberal use of visual material, such as the Hebrew for many of the words used in our faith practices.

Each chapter also has some sidebar elements such as “profile” and “backstory” that either pose a question or by give essential information.

One profile about Joseph, the husband of Mary, begins by positing that we don’t really know all that much about this man. The profile ends with a challenge to consider other “men on the move,” trying to provide for their families, urging readers to “think of Joseph the next time you pass that group of men looking for work in the parking lot of the Home Depot.” Such spiritual challenges and invitations are all over this book, popping up in clever, creative and meaningful ways.

Numerous questions are also posed throughout the book, along with answers on many topics ranging from evolution to annulment. Featured are familiar Catholics like Ss. Ignatius of Loyola and Catherine of Siena, as well as less familiar ones like Takashi Nagai and Rev. Mychal Judge.

One interesting element were the sections called “In the Media.” These address topics such as evolution, annulment, atheism and clerical abuse. Each is discussed in clear terms that are both Catholic and catholic — meaning universal — in every way.

“Ascend” has the potential to invite, challenge and transform a generation of new Catholics and to invigorate existing but inactive ones. It will also stir those who are a bit older but still hungry for ways to enkindle their communities and themselves. Catholics of all stripes should consider making it a part of their personal or parish libraries.

—Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

From the America Magazine blog: “Catechists and Teachers: Buy This New Book!”

October 13, 2009

Catechists and Teachers: Buy This New Book!

I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed paging through this amazing new book, written by two deacons of the LA archdiocese, called Ascend. Essentially it’s an introduction to the Catholic faith for young adults and (full disclosure: I blurbed it, but only because I loved it) it’s written in their lingo….

…bright, bold graphic designs; lots of stories about inspiring Catholics; easy-to-understand catechesis. The glossy new book, published by Paulist, is really quite extraordinary and wonderful. Here’s a sample chapter in PDF form. And here’s the book’s website. Trust me, it’s beautiful: unlike any other catechetical book you’ve ever seen. (One of the authors is a talented web designer, which explains some of the book’s look). One of our editors, who runs an adult initiation program, flipped through it and said, “Gee, after you’re done with it….” And no I’m not paid to say any of this, but I am paid (well not really, but you know what I mean) to tell you about great new ways to evangelize.

—James Martin, SJ

From Publishers Weekly: “This book will work best for those who know lots about culture and little about Catholicism.”

September 14, 2009

This laudable effort to make the Catholic faith understandable and appealing to young adults labors mightily to sound hip and cool, but it suffers from an oversimplified style that could alienate more thoughtful young seekers. In their attempt to take the Catholic faith down to the basics, Stoltz and Tomkovicz, both deacons in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, write in a way that may strike some readers as rudimentary. For example, in the introduction, they use a footnote to explain their subsequent use of footnotes. The authors also seem uncertain about the age group they are addressing. While “young adult” typically refers to collegians and recent college graduates, the introduction at one point suggests the audience may be raising children and thus would be slightly older. The book’s positive features include its organization into short chapters with sidebars, the inclusion of a glossary of terms and treatment of questions like “I read The Da Vinci Code. Don’t the facts in this book show Christianity is a lie?” The authors also effectively use cultural references to convey some points. This book will work best for those who know lots about culture and little about Catholicism. (Nov.)

Make a Comment