“SPEI at SFRC”: Partnering with St. Francesca Resource Center Food and Clothing Pantry

It was about one year ago when Matt from St. Francesca Resource Center in Chippewa Falls (SFRC) said he’d been meaning to ask me about something. He knew about our fledgling prayer and evangelization ministry, and he knew that the guests at his food and clothing pantry needed more than just material nourishment.

Since about April 2018, our team has partnered with SFRC, and we have been blessed with Matt as a team member. Pam H. has been a tried and true leader in this effort, with several other team members filling in as well. The center is open every Tuesday, and we try to be there at least twice each month. We greet guests, talk with them about whatever is going on in their lives, pray with them and/or take written prayer requests. We’ve invited many guests to our churches or ministry groups, like Catholic Connect.

“It is precisely because he is ‘sent’ that the missionary experiences the consoling presence of Christ, who is with him every moment of his life – ‘Do not be afraid…for I am with you’ (Acts 18:9-10) – and who awaits him in the heart of every person.” Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio.

Pray. Love. Repeat. Praise God for this beautiful partnership! We are so thankful.

Christmas in July? (Finally posting about SPSE at OneFest)

Last July, the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds hosted the first ever One Fest, a Christian music festival dedicated to Christian unity. Cf. Ephesians 4:1-6.

The budding festival came across my radar as a fairgrounds Board member. I was hoping our venue would host some Christian musicians and that’s when Heather and her dream entered the picture. Fortunately, she liked our venue, the fairgrounds Board was in support, and we forged ahead.

SPSE teamed up with Holy Ghost Parish to promote a Catholic presence at the event. Holy Ghost has a food stand on the grounds and took the leap of faith to open its stand for the event. We arranged for a SPSE prayer station to be open next to the food stand. The Deanery parishes promoted the event and the childcare director for McDonell Area Catholic Schools co-chaired the youth activities. Both Fr. Kizewski from Holy Ghost and Fr. Burish from Notre Dame, along with their seminarian interns, attended the event to help with our evangelization efforts. Several SPSE team members and my family members contributed their efforts and enthusiasm, as well.

As the event drew nearer, I began to waver as to whether it was a good idea for SPSE to participate. “Catholics don’t even like Christian pop music,” I thought, “And Protestant or non-denominational Christians don’t like Catholics. What am I trying to prove?” Praise God, Our Lady set me straight with the trump card: “If you are not there, who will be my advocate?” The answer, of course, would be no one. We couldn’t have that. In the end, Our Blessed Mother “made me do it” and I am so glad she did. (Now you see that even your “fearless” leader can have unreasonable doubts at times.)

We had a fairly steady stream of folks stop by our prayer station throughout the day. We prayed with several of them and handed out dozens of rosaries, medals, prayer cards, and stickers. The Holy Ghost food stand even had a long line and sold out of food! One of my favorite moments of the day was when a woman agreed that I could pray over her about a number of problems in her personal life involving health and family relationships. I was inspired to pray for the intercession of Mary, Undoer of Knots. After the prayer, she said she had never heard of such a thing. She was not Catholic, but she gladly accepted a Miraculous Medal, prayer card, and pamphlet about Catholic devotion to Mary.

We closed down the stand in the early evening and we were able to stay and enjoy some of the music, including Mandisa and Tenth Avenue North.

Thank you to all of the pastors, team members, and supporters who made our participation in the event a success! Thank you to Heather Flashinski, the event organizer and now a friend. A special thank you to Our Blessed Mother without whom I may have chickened out! She always has my back (and yours). The kicker? The Catholic Lectionary New Testament reading for the Sunday of fest weekend was Ephesians 4:1-6, the verse that inspired the event in the first place:

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Evangelization Retreat – St. Mary’s and St. Raymond’s

On September 25, Fr. Derek Sakowski and his team welcomed us to participate and help present at an Evangelization Retreat at St. Mary’s in Altoona. The evening included prayer, team building, the “10 Great Ways to Share Your Faith” talk given by our Regional Director Dr. Deb McManimon, and practicing our personal testimonies. We concluded the evening with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, including a meditation and discernment exercise and intercessory prayer. It was a beautiful evening which we hope will encourage many good fruits in our community. Many thanks to Dr. McManimon, Fr. Sakowski, Marianne Callaghan, and Jacqueline Van Hemert, and to those team members who attended.

Grace Upon Grace

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever!” Ps. 118:1

As St. Paul Street Evangelization national transitions to St. Paul Evangelization Institute, our local team has continued its street evangelization efforts and worked to spread the message of the Church’s mission of evangelization. We have also been blessed with several new team members. Praise God!

According to recent statistics, only 3% of Catholics believe that evangelization is important (contrasting dismally with our Protestant and Evangelical counterparts). Yet, we affirm with Pope St. Paul VI that evangelization is the Church’s “deepest identity” and “she exists in order to evangelize.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14) Therefore, educating our Catholic brethren on this mission is rather daunting and slow going at times. Yet “nothing shall be impossible for God” and so we persist with endurance, trusting that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Luke 1:37, Rom 5:5.

Yet, we affirm with Pope St. Paul VI that evangelization is the Church’s “deepest identity” and “she exists in order to evangelize.”

While we were disappointed by the cancellation of one of our planned outings in October, we have continued our evangelization work at St. Francesca Resource Center. We also have a presence at Sojourner House once every 3 months and hope to build on that. Coming up will be Advent efforts in connection with the Bridge to Wonderland Parade and Irvine Park Christmas Village. We hope to include carolers as we did last year. We also plan to be present on a more casual basis at the weekly Goldsmith Catholic Connect group.

The Lord has blessed us with local pastors willing to partner with us to help plant and water the seeds of evangelization in their parishes. In the past month or so, we’ve been welcomed at St. Mary’s Parish in Altoona, Notre Dame Church in Chippewa Falls, and St. Paul’s Parish in Bloomer. In the coming months we have outreach planned at Holy Ghost Parish as well as two Confirmation classes this spring. Many thanks to Fr. Sakowski, Fr. Burish, Fr. Feltes, Fr. Kizewski, and their religious education/family faith coordinators.




Summer Updates!

Updates: We have staffed a table at St. Francesca’s the past three Tuesdays! Many thanks to Tim, Sean, Michael, and Isaac for stepping up. I was there with Isaac yesterday morning; we prayed with a woman named Sherry, provided some sacramentals, information, and prayer books to a few others, and took several prayer requests to the Goldsmith Chapel.Also, shout out to Pam for coming out to the park and praying with me last weekend, and to Pamela Ann for continuing her mobile street evangelization with great success.

Praise God!

Continuing at St. Francesca’s: We are filling the roster for any Tuesday in July or August. The 9 a.m. shift is definitely busier than the 4 p.m. shift.

Irvine Park weekends; limited dates available: We will look to have our Irvine Park stand open at least 2 more Saturdays this summer.

One-Fest on Saturday, July 28! Holy Ghost Parish will have its food stand open and we will have an opportunity to have an evangelization table next to the stand. We will be staffing this table to share the Catholic Christian faith at a fun event!

Mobile Evangelization: You never know when the Holy Spirit will place you in a situation where you feel moved to share a rosary, holy medal, or prayer card. These might come in handy at summer events, festivals, with family and friends, or just walking down the street.

Holy Hour for Conversion. This continues every Thursday during Adoration at Holy Ghost Church 5:15 – 6:15 p.m. (rosary at 6). Prayer is powerful.

Watch for updates, including another training coming in September. Please pray for the mission of evangelization, pray for the Church and the ongoing conversion of our community and our own hearts. St. Paul, pray for us!

Workshop! “10 Great Ways to Share Your Faith”

Deb McManimon and Denise Hirl from SPSE national, hosted by our local team, will present a workshop and training on “10 Great Ways to Share Your Faith.” This workshop will begin to provide you the skills and confidence needed to be a joyful witness to the Gospel. This event is open to any Catholic ages 15+, as well as those who may be interested in joining our team to visit with us. Free admission.

Where: Notre Dame Parish Life Center, 22 S. Prairie St., Chippewa Falls

When: Saturday, April 14th, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Each Sunday we are told “Go Forth, the Mass is ended”. What are we to go forth and do? We are to share the Good News with others. This is evangelization. How often do we follow this call from Jesus to spread the Good News? We usually don’t because we are not sure how to do it. Now you can learn the basics of evangelization and use these tips in your daily life. Come and learn 10 practical ways that you can begin to live out your part of God’s amazing plan for your life and His people.



Sharing the Mission with Youth: Upcoming Talks

Through collaborations with Religious Education (CCD) sacramental programs and McDonell Central Catholic High School, we will be giving 15-20 minute talks to both the Confirmation class and the high school student body in the coming weeks. SPSE permits Confirmed Catholics ages 16+ to participate as street evangelists, with a parent or guardian. Whether or not the Holy Spirit moves any of our youth to join the team, we look forward to sharing the Church’s evangelization mission – The Great Commission (Mt. 28:19) – with our youth. Your Mission (SPSE Youth Presentation)

Holy Hour for Conversion Starts January 25th (Feast of Conversion of St. Paul)

Holy Ghost Parish will host a “Holy Hour for Conversion” each Thursday, 5:15-6:15 p.m., during weekly Eucharistic Adoration (4:30 – 7:30), starting Jan. 25th, which is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. We offer this time for conversion of loved ones, our culture, and our own hearts to a renewed faith. After gathering for silent prayer, we will recite the Holy Rosary at 6:00 p.m. Open to all. Please see attached flyer.

Holy Hour for Conversion 515

Recap: Advent Kickoff a Success

Praise the Lord! This update is quite late (seeing as how the Christmas season concluded yesterday). Our Advent Kickoff and Caroling in the Park was a success! On December 2, the Holy Ghost Parish music ministry and guests partnered with our SPSE team to celebrate the joyful anticipation of Christmas in our local Irvine Park. While the choristers sang, SPSE handed out hot chocolate, candy canes, and Advent devotionals to interested park-goers. Some stopped to discuss difficulties in their lives and to fill out prayer requests. All in all, the outing was a lovely collaboration and a beautiful sign of the joy of the Gospel in our community. Something to build on! In fact, members of the Holy Ghost music ministry carried the momentum forward and went caroling at the Chippewa Manor (local nursing home and senior apartments) during the Christmas season, as well. Faith, hope, and love are contagious. 

Advent Kick-Off in Irvine Park

We are kicking off Advent with an SPSE outing at Irvine Park on Saturday, December 2nd from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. We will have hot chocolate and Advent devotional booklets on hand, along with our other literature. Joining us will be a group of carolers, helping us to evangelize through the beauty of music. They will be singing Advent hymns such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” as well as some favorite (Advent-appropriate) secular songs, like “White Christmas”.

Irvine Park’s “Christmas Village” opens the previous weekend and, while enjoying this fun community tradition, we hope to be a visible sign of the expectant hope of Advent preparing the way for the joy of Christ’s birth.

The commercial “Christmas season” seems to begin earlier each year. The Church’s desire to worship God in the rhythm of her liturgical seasons may be counter-cultural, yet He answers the true desires of every human heart. We hope to help our neighbors “prepare Him room” in their hearts this Advent by meeting them in the park on December 2nd. St. Nicholas, pray for us!