Taking the Catholic Faith to the Streets!
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious…What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man…he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything…In him we live and move and have our being.” St. Paul preaches to the Athenians (Acts 17:22-28)
St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) is a grassroots, non-profit organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the streets. Christ’s call to evangelize was made to every Catholic Christian, and the Second Vatican Council reiterated this need, urging each of the baptized to bring the Gospel, found fully in the Catholic Church, to a culture that has largely reverted to paganism. As an on-the-street Catholic evangelization organization, St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for people to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture.
Founded in May 2012, St. Paul Street Evangelization provides the tools and resources for Catholics to engage the culture in a simple, non-confrontational method of evangelization which involves making themselves available to the public to answer questions about the faith and to pray with those who request it. SPSE has had tremendous growth and now has teams throughout the United States and even internationally, such as in the Philippines and Australia.
But a person might ask, “How can lay people evangelize the Catholic faith so publicly? Isn’t that the job of priests and bishops?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, ‘that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life.’ For lay people, ‘this evangelization acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world’” (CCC 905). As a lay apostolate, St. Paul Street Evangelization works in fidelity and obedience to the Catholic Church and her Magisterium.
Armed with a simple sign, pamphlets and Rosaries, SPSE evangelists take to the streets, going wherever people are gathered – on a street corner, at a festival, or even at a football game. Our teams always begin in prayer. Unlike some forms of street evangelism which seek to forcibly proselytize those passing by (for example, by yelling, displaying confrontational signs, or preaching loudly at no one in particular), SPSE employs a non-confrontational method, maintaining a peaceful presence and allowing people to approach if they choose. Initial contact is limited to a friendly greeting and an offer of a free Rosary, but the evangelist never tries to force anyone to stop and talk.
St. Paul Street Evangelization has found this non-confrontational approach to be very effective at strengthening the faith of practicing Catholics, bringing back into the Faith fallen away Catholics, and clearing up misconceptions about the Faith held by non-Catholics. While it is the mission of SPSE to work with God for the conversion of the whole world to the Catholic Faith, SPSE evangelists recognize that it is only their job to plant seeds, and in the end, it is up to God to make those seeds grow.
The goal of St. Paul Street Evangelization is not to win arguments but to share the love of Jesus Christ with a hurting culture that is seeking truth. SPSE recognizes that to be an effective witness for Christ and His Church, one must seek to live a holy life. As Pope Paul VI wrote in Evangeli Nuntiandi, “For the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life … ‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’” (41). To this end, SPSE seeks a membership of evangelists who take their Catholic Faith seriously and are striving for personal sanctity.
When out on the streets, the evangelists of SPSE share the hope that is in them so that the world sees the salvation of God through the Church that He founded. They do not evangelize because they have done any great thing, but because God has done a great work in them, and for that, they are humbled. A person does not need to be a theologian or professional apologist to be an effective evangelist. He only needs to have a heart for Jesus Christ and His Church and be willing to share that with others.
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The St. Paul Street Evangelization national office offers:
- Team Development and Coordination – Visit the Locations page to find a team near you. If there is not a team in your area, or if you would prefer to start a new one of your own, SPSE will help you coordinate your efforts with other local evangelists and provide all of the resources and information that you need to get started.
- Online Evangelist Training and Certification – SPSE offers a training course in catechesis and evangelization to help you learn the language of the Church and what she expects of her evangelists. SPSE certifies its evangelists who have completed the training and have experience out on the street. SPSE encourages all Catholics to take these catechetical courses, even if they do not intend to become a street evangelist. SPSE also offers live training for groups that are interested.
- Materials for local teams – SPSE provides signs, Rosaries, CDs, business card templates, and other materials to local teams for a minimal suggested donation.
- Free printable pamphlets – Teams have access to more than 20 pamphlets on the Catholic faith that will help them with their evangelization efforts.
- Website – Every local team is provided with a free website to help the members to coordinate their efforts.
- Media – Local teams can access press releases, public service announcements, television and radio interviews, archived news stories, and other media related resources at the national website.
- Evangelization and Catechetical Blog – A team of evangelists writes on timely topics addressing issues related to evangelization, catechesis, apologetics, and the Church.
- Information about SPSE – Visit the website, watch the YouTube videos, read stories of street evangelists in action, find out more about the organization, and join the Facebook page.
- Prayer Warrior Group – Evangelists can rely on the support of our prayer group of hundreds of Catholics who intercede for their intentions and their work on the streets.
- Apologetics Group – Evangelists can sharpen their apologetics skills by joining thousands of other Catholics in the SPSE apologetics group on Facebook.
Get Involved Today!
If you would like to get involved with a SPSE in your area, or would like to learn more about starting a team of your own, visit the the Get-Involved page and fill out the form. St. Paul Street Evangelization also encourages every Catholic to join the conversation by following them on Facebook and Twitter, and by joining thousands of other Catholics in their Prayer Warrior and Apologetics Groups on Facebook where you can learn more about the Holy Catholic Faith and pray for the conversion of the culture.
Written By: Adam Janke