All posts by Biff Rocha

Dr. Biff Rocha is Director of Evangelization and Missions for the Diocese of Toledo. He received his Ph.D in Theology from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, where, in the program on the U.S. Catholic Experience, he specialized in the history of catechesis in the U.S., particularly in the nineteenth century. His doctoral dissertation focused on an Italian American priest and scholar Januarius De Concilio and the authorship, history and theology of the Baltimore Catechism. In addition to his Ph.D, Biff earned an M.A. (2002) in Theological Studies at the University of Dayton, an M.A. (1998) in Communication, with an emphasis on Rhetoric at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a B.A. (1988) at Miami University, where he double majored in English and Political Science, and had a special focus on Geology. Biff is a popular speaker who has presented at parishes and schools across the country. He has also published in popular periodicals including New Oxford Review and Hands On Apologetics. He has also presented scholarly paper before such learned societies as the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, the National Communication Association and the Central States Communication Association. He has also published scholarly articles in professional journals and proceedings including the Global Media Journal and the Proceedings of the Nineteenth Century Theology Group of the American Academy of Religion. Biff was raised nominally Catholic, and then at college he became an evangelical Protestant and became heavily involved with Protestant para-church ministry, eventually becoming a full-time staff member with one of these organizations, and serving on mission trips to Italy and Japan. He eventually re-entered the Catholic Church, and has been instrumental in helping many others find their home in Rome.

Presidential Dollar: Mirror of the Times


The United States Mint recently unveiled the new designs for the Presidential $1 coins that will enter into circulation this year. It has frequently been said that a nation’s coins are a mirror of its values. In the United States we have an incredible mix of people and motivations which shape our culture. As a result our coins reflect both good and embarassing elements. The first coin of 2010 will honor former Presidents Millard Fillmore. The obverse design on the Millard Fillmore dollar is by United States Mint Sculptor, Engraver Don Everhart. The common reverse design of all the Presidential coins is also by Everhart and features a dramatic rendition of the Statue of Liberty. Inscriptions on the reverse are $1, and United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, 2010, and the mint mark with 13 stars appearing on the edge of the coin. Translated from Latin, the motto “E Pluribus Unum” means “Out of Many, One.” This motto first appeared on U.S. coinage in 1795 and became a mandatory inscription in 1873. The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on US coinage in 1864. Since 1938, all US coins have carried the inscription.

There And Back Again

Biff 1Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I always considered myself Catholic. For my family being Catholic consisted in being baptized and attending Mass on Christmas and Easter, but most of all, we were Catholic because we were Italian. I took the typical Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes and was confirmed. In high school, nearly all of my friends were Catholic, but again this had more to do with the fact that they were Italian, Czech, German, Polish, etc, than anything else. Few of the people at Mass could explain Church doctrine, and fewer still knew the reasons why we believed as we did.

La Befana the Christmas Witch

befana_epifaniaThe Christmas Witch has always been very dear to me. Doubly blest, she would visit me twice during each Christmas season: once at home to fill my shoes, and once by way of a friend. One of my best friends in high school was Lucia Travaglini, and after the Christmas Mass on January 6th, we’d walk home observing all the dolls on the windowsills. After spying to find the witch’s broom, Lucy and I would eventually exchange gifts left for the other by La Befana, the giver of gifts. The Christmas Witch never forgot me nor failed to bring just the right present. So you can imagine my surprise and sadness freshman year of college at Miami University, when my new friends had never heard of La Befana.