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Jonathan Roumie of ‘The Chosen’ to be Catholic University’s 2024 commencement speaker

March 20, 2024 Catholic News Agency 0
Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie during a visit to Unbound’s headquarters in Nov. 2023. / Danika Wolf/Unbound

CNA Staff, Mar 20, 2024 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus in the popular television series “The Chosen,” will speak at the spring 2024 commencement at the Catholic University of America (CUA), the school announced Wednesday. 

“Countless numbers of people have had their lives changed for the better by Jonathan Roumie through his portrayal of Jesus Christ,” CUA president Peter Kilpatrick said in a March 20 press release

“Jonathan’s work is a testament to how Catholics can use their God-given talents to deliver messages of hope and to bring people closer to God,” Kilpatrick continued. “I look forward to welcoming him to The Catholic University of America.”

Besides playing Jesus Christ in “The Chosen,” which is now in its fourth season, Roumie has been featured on the Hallow prayer and meditation app, and has served as a ministry leader. He was also a keynote speaker at the annual March for Life in 2023 in Washington, D.C., and has more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram. 

“Speaking at The Catholic University of America’s commencement is such an honor because I will be among those who not only value a quality education but a college experience formed by the Catholic faith,” Roumie said in the press release. 

“I so look forward to celebrating with these graduates and sharing some insights into how one can live an inspired, fulfilling, and faithful life using the skills, talents, and intellect given to them by God,” he continued. 

Roumie will speak at commencement on May 11 and receive an honorary doctoral degree, along with four others.

Rabbi Jack Bemporad, an interfaith leader, will also receive an honorary doctorate. Having fled the fascist takeover of Italy when he was 5 years old, Bemporad has since dedicated himself to improving relations among Christians, Muslims, and Jews across the world. He has authored several books about Christian and Jewish relations and is the founding director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding. 

John Finnis, professor emeritus of University of Oxford and University of Notre Dame Law School and a Catholic legal and political thinker and renowned philosopher, will be receiving an honorary doctorate, along with speaker and writer Teresa Pitt Green, advocate, speaker, and co-founder of The Healing Voices magazine. 

Father Piotr Nawrot, a Roman Catholic priest of the Divine World Ministries known for rediscovering and reconstructing 13,000 pages of music held by members of the Moxo and Chiquito tribes, among others, will also receive an honorary doctorate. 

The commencement ceremony will take place on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with about 1,300 graduating students.  

CUA, established in 1887, just announced the launch of its “Lead with Light” brand platform, which Kilpatrick said “encapsulates who we are as an institution.” 

The platform, he said, highlights “our dedication to academic excellence” as well as the “warm and welcoming community” at CUA, “where Christ is at the center of everything we do.”


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Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie partners with child sponsorship charity for special milestone 

November 28, 2023 Catholic News Agency 0
Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie during a visit to Unbound’s headquarters in November 2023. / Credit: Danika Wolf/Unbound

CNA Staff, Nov 28, 2023 / 15:25 pm (CNA).

The Catholic child sponsorship charity Unbound announced Tuesday that Jonathan Roumie, the actor who portrays Jesus in “The Chosen” TV series, has partnered with them to sponsor their 1 millionth child currently living in poverty. 

Roumie, a devout Catholic, was cast as Jesus in the Christian-produced hit TV series “The Chosen” in 2019. He has since gone on to headline the 2023 March for Life and has partnered with the popular Catholic prayer app Hallow on numerous occasions, among other projects. 

During a November visit to Unbound’s headquarters, Roumie had a virtual visit with a 6-year-old girl from Rwanda who Unbound says is the 1 millionth child to enter their program. Roumie first began sponsoring with Unbound in 2019, financially supporting and writing letters to a child in Tanzania. 

Jonathan Roumie virtually meets his new sponsored friend, a 6-year-old girl from Rwanda, during his visit to the Unbound global headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. Credit: Danika Wolf/Unbound
Jonathan Roumie virtually meets his new sponsored friend, a 6-year-old girl from Rwanda, during his visit to the Unbound global headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. Credit: Danika Wolf/Unbound

“Sponsoring a child is a direct expression of faith,” Roumie said.

“When you have the chance to participate in their life and, to an extent, be able to alleviate some of their suffering, it answers the call to bear one another’s burdens and serve each other through love. I’m excited to spread the word about the good work Unbound is doing and encourage more people to participate in a program that helps so many people around the world.”

"The Chosen" actor Jonathan Roumie meets Pope Francis (right) at the Vatican on Aug. 11, 2021. Vatican Media/CNA
“The Chosen” actor Jonathan Roumie meets Pope Francis (right) at the Vatican on Aug. 11, 2021. Vatican Media/CNA

Based in Kansas, Unbound was founded in 1981 by Catholics as an agency focused on putting resources directly in the hands of the world’s poor. Formerly the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA), the agency today uses a network of thousands of sponsors to deliver personalized support to children, elders, and their families living in poverty in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. 

Dan Pearson, Unbound’s chief international program officer, told CNA in an interview that Unbound’s work is rooted in the Gospel call to view each person living in poverty as “infinitely important,” with inherent dignity and worth, and connecting them with people willing to help, many of whom are people of faith. He said he has seen the connections that Unbound fosters make real changes in the lives of the poor but also in the lives of their sponsors. 

People who sign up with Unbound commit to supporting their “sponsored friend” — a child or elderly person living in poverty — with a donation of roughly $40 a month. More than 90% of the money donated goes directly into a bank account that is in the name of the sponsored child and, usually, his or her mother.

The funds can then be variously used to improve the child’s living conditions — such as providing better food and nutrition or enabling the child to attend school — with the goal of ultimately lifting the child out of poverty entirely.

“What you’re doing is you’re investing in the goals that that family has set for themselves. When a family enters the program, they identify their short-term and long-term goals. And as they check off those short-term goals, they set new ones to walk out of poverty,” Pearson explained. 

“You’re accompanying them, and you’re investing in the plan that [the] mother has for her children,” he continued. 

“The mother, she knows what her family needs and she can use that money effectively. She’s already nurturing and growing her family on just a few dollars a day, so she knows how to use a small amount of money very effectively for the betterment of that family.”

Unbound also facilitates letter writing and the exchange of photographs between sponsors and their sponsored friends in an effort to build personal connection. 

Pearson said when Unbound discovered recently that Roumie was already a sponsor and was passionate about their mission, “it seemed like just a natural partnership to explore.” He said he hopes that more Catholics will consider sponsoring with Unbound, as the organization says it currently has 20,000 children and elderly people awaiting sponsorship.

“We’re just very excited about working with Jonathan, and at this time of year, it is the giving season when people tend to give to organizations that are here to serve,” Pearson continued.

“And we feel like Unbound has something special to offer because it’s not just helping someone who’s in need but also connecting on a human level. And we often miss that.”