Caroling Flash Mob in Preparation for Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s obviously been a while since the blog here has been updated, and quite a bit has happened since that first event in Wheaton. We had a number of other events throughout the year, including in Downers Grove, Romeoville, Naperville, and other areas. 2019 is looking to be an even bigger year for the Joliet Chapter of SPSE, as we try to get into more large scale events. So stay tuned!

For now, I wanted to take the opportunity to recap our most recent outing from last week, December 22nd, just before Christmas. An awesome idea came from on of our Station Leaders, Chris. He’ll tell you that all the credit goes to our Lord Jesus (which, yes, ultimately it does go to Him!), but without Chris’ action and organization, the even would not have been possible. Thank you Chris, and thank you to everyone that came out to make the event great!

So if you’re unfamiliar with a flash mob, what it consists of is a group of people coming together in a public place, and then surprising all there with something unexpected. In our case, we descended upon one of the biggest malls in the Chicago suburbs, in Oak Brook, and started singing Christmas carols for the glory of our Lord Jesus. However, there was one snag we hit…

Apparently, security was made aware of our plans, and even though we were outside, we were still on what was considered private property. Originally, they were not going to allow us to pass out any literature or sacramentals, nor were they going to let us sing. After some negotiation, we were still unable to send out our prayer teams with resources for the public, but we were allowed to sing about half of the songs we had planned to sing.

In order to make us stand out, Christ brought some Santa hats for us to wear. About 35 of us or so all lined up and started off with a secular song (Frosty the Snowman), before we ramped it up to glorifying our Lord through such hymns as Silent Night. Take a look at the video below to see a little bit of how everything went down:

Caroling Flash Mob

As we were right in the middle of the main square outside the mall, many people gathered to watch us sing praises to our Lord, taking their own videos and cheering us on as well. When all was said and done, the head of security, who had not wanted us there originally, came up and told us that it was really nice what we did. We hope to change hearts one step at a time! Although we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do that night, we hope that we were one step on the road to conversion for some of the people there. Perhaps someone there realized they haven’t been to Mass for a while, and that maybe they should this year. We won’t know this side of Heaven. But if it takes someone 1,392 steps to come into union with our Lord, and we can be step 847, then we will gladly be step 847!

Below is one anecdote from one of our team members as she was leaving the main square:

We had an opportunity to evangelize a young man working as a valet at Roku.

As we were walking by I asked him how business was going for the night. He said “good” then said “hey I like your hat. “ I told him about our caroling and asked him if he wanted to wear my hat to make better tips. He asked if it was free and I said “yes”. After he put the hat on I asked to take his picture. He allowed it but covered his face because he was working.

Then I asked him if he was going to church on Christmas. He is a member of St James and will be attending Mass. I asked if he owed a rosary and he reached for his pocket then looked up and said it was in his car. Then I asked if he was familiar with the story of the young French nun, visionary of the miraculous medal. He was not. When offered him a medal, he hesitated. I said “ it’s free!” “Sure”he said and took the medal and the pamphlet.

I asked him to please read the story to his family on Christmas Day because the story is so beautiful. He said he would. We left then because technically he was working and I did not want to get him in trouble. I attached his picture. Thank you for the Santa hat! Turned out to be a great talking point.

Merry Christmas

Thanks again to all that came out, and thank you all for the prayers, even if you were not able to make it. Prayer is the most important part about what we do. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’re hoping to do a lot more outings, big and small in 2019. We’re actually planning on doing another flash mob in the spring, in partnership with the SPSE Chapter at St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago. But this time, it’ll be a Eucharistic Flash Mob! Stay tuend for more on that. If you want to join us for any of our events, feel free to contact me at any time. Or alternatively, if you want to get out there for something smaller, all we need is two people. Contact me so we can go out together, or I can set you up with one of our team members. And of course, please keep the entire apostolate in your prayers. Happy New Year!

Taste of Wheaton: Maiden Voyage Complete!

One down in the books, and it seems to have been a great success! This past Saturday, the Joliet Chapter of St. Paul’s Street Evangelization went out for the first time to the Taste of Wheaton festival in Wheaton, IL. We were out evangelizing on the streets for a little over 7 hours during this very well attended festival and many people were happy to see us! Of course, some people walked right by us and rejected our offers of prayers or rosaries, but no one was belligerent and we were able talk with a wide array of people during our time there. We had 8 people come out and evangelize with us, so a big thanks to our station leaders, certified evangelists, and friends who came out to volunteer their time for this great apostolate!

We were able to pass out quite a bit of literature on a variety of topics from Petrine primacy to the divinity of Christ and from examination of consciences to copies of Trent Horn’s new book “Why We’re Catholic”. I think we probably gave away 7 or 8 copies of Horn’s new book, and we only did that for people that we were most engaged with. I honestly didn’t think we’d give that many away, but people were happy to learn more about a faith they weren’t too familiar with, or simply wanted to learn more! One young girl, Brooklynn, was out with her father and had just received the Sacrament of Confirmation the week prior. We congratulated her and told her we’d pray for her. But I relayed to her my own story of moving on to high school, and how, often, I wasn’t able to give a good explanation for my faith. I couldn’t tell others why I believed what I believed. I told her that I didn’t want her to be in the same situation, so I offered her a copy of Horn’s book which she gladly accepted. Her dad was overjoyed and thanked us for the gift.

She wasn’t the only one, though, who received the book. We also gave some to a few lapsed Catholics, and an inquiring young man who will soon be baptized in an Evangelical church. This young man, a sophomore who is being homeschooled, approached our booth as his mom talked to another volunteer. He took one of the “Why Be Catholic” pamphlets and stood a ways off, but actually reading it! I wondered if it would be prudent to reach out to him again as he and another friend discussed and read the tract. After a few minutes, and his mother still talking, I asked the young man if he had any friends who were Catholic. He said that he did. I told him to feel free in asking me any questions, and he actually had some really good ones!

His first question was, “Do Catholics believe that they are saved by grace alone?” I could tell this was a smart kid! I told him that yes, as the Church has always taught, we are saved by God’s grace, but we must work with Him through our faith and good works, so that He may say to us at our judgement, “You have done well, good and faithful servant”. I gave him one of the “Salvation” pamphlets as well and we talked a little bit more about how faith and good works work into our salvation, and we got into a little exposition of St. James’ Letter. He also mentioned that his father reads quite a bit from Catholic authors, particularly on philosophical issues because, as his dad says, “Catholic know what they’re talking about here”. To my absolute shock, he mentioned that he (the teenager) has been reading Peter Kreeft and Dr. Edward Feser’s new book “Five Proofs for the Existence of God” for his home school! How awesome is that?!

I told him that I also had just gotten that book for Christmas and was starting to read it too, while also mentioning Peter Kreeft’s deep love for our Lord in the Eucharist, which led to a brief discussion of how our churches both understand our Lord’s words to “Take eat, and do this in remembrance of Me.” We talked more about this and about the differences between us, but we also focused on our commonalities. He told me that he was being baptized in a month, to which I told him that we are already brothers in Christ! While there are legitimate differences between us that cannot be swept under the rug by any means, I rejoiced with him in that he will be reborn in this great sacrament soon. We then prayed together, and I thanked him for his witness. He also took a copy of “Why We’re Catholic”, and soon after, following a visit to our website, he reached out to me again via e-mail, thanking me for the prayers and for answering his questions, telling me he’d let me know if he had more. Praise God for his willingness to learn more about the Catholic Church!

Throughout the day, we handed out many rosaries. At least 150! Many people were more than happy to take one, and we were able to give them instructions (from SPSE) on how to pray the rosary. Miraculous medals were in hot demand too, as were some million dollar bills featuring Pope Francis. The kids especially liked getting some extra “money” for their piggy banks!

One of our station leaders, John, was also able to have some meaningful conversations with the passerby, particularly with a military veteran, Thomas, who had served our country in Afghanistan. It was clear he had a heavy heart, and John encouraged Thomas to return to the sacraments. Thomas asked for prayers and we were able to pray with him right there, on the spot. Another one of our station leaders, Edgar, also was able to pray on the spot with a woman who had been suffering from some ailments. People were very glad to have the opportunity to pray with others.

I myself was also able to pray with quite a few people, including Sandy for the conversion of her daughter (and we also pray for her reversion to the Catholic faith for her as well). I also spent some time talking with Karen, who has been hurt and scandalized by a number of things that have taken place within the Church. These scandals have led her to question the Church, but she knows that she needs Christ, and that she wants to find a good parish to go to. We prayed right there, especially in thanksgiving for a recovery from illness, and we’re hoping to find her a great spiritual home and that she will return to the sacraments.

Needless to say, please keep all of these people (and those that I didn’t mention!) in your prayers. We don’t know what effect our witness will have this side of heaven, but we can only hope that we planted some seeds, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully some of these people we met will return to the Church. We could also use your continued support with prayers as well for the success of our apostolate. We hope to go out again soon, and will keep everyone posted here, and on the e-mail list. To sign up, send me an e-mail and we’ll let you know when we’ll be going out next!

Wheaton… We’ll See You Soon!

Well folks, our little band of volunteers has been quite proactive in the short time we’ve had this Joliet Chapter running. Even before our first meeting (which is at 7 PM on May 30th at the Blanchette Catholic Center), we’ve already been discussing and sharing ideas and how to spread the Good News of our Lord Jesus to the masses. And in addition to sharing these ideas, we’ve managed to secure our first evangelization event!

The Joliet Chapter of SPSE will have its first outing on June 2nd at the “Taste of Wheaton” festival! We’ll have a booth on the main drag and will be reaching a lot of people, as this event has gotten very popular! More info will be forthcoming!

We’ve also gotten some more help from other generous members. We recently obtained an A-Frame sign for when we go out to evangelize, as can be seen below.

We also obtained 100 more rosaries from Our Lady’s Rosary makers in Louisville, KY, courtesy of the Hobart SPSE Chapter. A big thank you to their chapter coordinator, Maria!

So as we prepare to go out for the first time as a team, I’ve been realizing how necessary prayer is to this operation. As Scripture tells us, “Pray unceasingly” (cf. 1 Thess. 5:16-18). I’ve been taking some courses online through the University of Notre Dame recently, and we just finished a unit on the sacraments of healing, which also covered the beautiful gift the Church has given us in indulgences.

I was looking at the Enchiridion of Indulgences and was curious if there was a specific indulgence for going out “into the streets”. While those exact words weren’t mentioned, there actually IS a partial indulgence attached to the good work that we do in reaching people through our ministry of street evangelization! Check out page 13 of the Enchiridion from the link above to see what I mean. I’ll quote the relevant portions, from pages 11 and 13 below, emphases mine:

Presented in the first place are three grants of indulgences, intended to serve as a reminder to the faithful to infuse with the Christian spirit the actions that go to make up their daily lives and to strive in the ordering of their lives toward the perfection of charity.

The first and second grants are a resume of many given in times past…

Second General Grant

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who in a spirit of faith and mercy give of themselves or of their goods to serve their brothers in need. This second grant is intended to serve as an incentive to the faithful to perform more frequent acts of charity and mercy, thus following the example and obeying the command of Christ Jesus. 

However, not all works of charity are thus indulgenced, but only those which “serve their 
brothers in need,” in need, for example, of food or clothing for the body or of instruction or comfort for the soul.

II Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, n. 8: Wherever there are people in need of food and drink, clothing, housing, medicine, employment, education; wherever men lack the facilities necessary for living a truly human life or are afflicted with serious distress or illness or suffer exile or imprisonment, there Christian charity should seek them out and find them, console them with great solicitude and help them with appropriate relief…. In order that the exercise of charity on this scale may be unexceptionable in appearance as well as in fact, it is altogether necessary to consider in one’s neighbor the image of God in which he has been created, and also Christ the Lord to whom is really offered whatever is given to a needy person.

Jesus Christ, and His Bride the Church, are necessary for living a truly human life. While we may easily acknowledge that people are materially destitute, we often forget that many people around us are also spiritually destitute. They truly need Jesus in their lives and they truly need the sacraments! “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).

We will be not only telling people about Jesus and educating them about His deep love for us, but we will also be consoling and comforting people in prayer. Just look at all the testimonials on SPSE’s main website or newsletter, and you’ll see how the power of prayer with those individuals that walk up to us affects everyone. So each and every time we go out, we should remember that through our loving Mother Church, we can receive an indulgence which can be applied to our own soul or the souls of our loved ones in purgatory. How awesome is that?!

Keep in mind, that the indulgence offered is partial and not a plenary, or full, indulgence. Therefore there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, partial indulgences are easier to obtain than plenary indulgences. For instance, one isn’t required to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (it’s always good to though!) or go to Confession. Here’s what is necessary. To gain a partial indulgence one must:

  • be in a state of grace (free of mortal sin). A good Confession isn’t otherwise necessary, but a contrite heart for even venial sin is.
  • intend to receive the indulgence
  • perform the prescribed action of the indulgence

The graces that will come forth from this ministry will be numerous, I’m confident of that. Please continue to keep praying for our apostolate’s success and join us at our meeting if you’re able to. If you’d like to be added to the chapter’s e-mail list, please contact me so that I can add you!

Getting the Stamp of Approval

Things are going great as we get closer and closer to the summertime, which is prime time for getting out and evangelizing! I recently had some great conversation regarding our Joliet chapter of SPSE, and got a “stamp of approval” from someone who is very important!

First, on Ascension Thursday, I went out to get my mail when I noticed that there was a package on my doorstep. The box said it came from SPSE headquarters, but I knew I hadn’t ordered anything. When I opened the box (much like last time!) I was surprised to find quite a few things inside! The first was a bill for the materials, but that bill had already been paid, and not by me! Next, I found inside exactly what we needed: 100 rosaries, 100 miraculous medals, and several pamphlets of SPSE’s “How to Pray the Rosary”. This is a great start, as I’ve been told by other team leaders that the sacramentals are very popular with the people that they engage.

But this leaves the question: who sent me the package? I had a talk with Brian Lee at SPSE headquarters, and when I asked about it, he told me that someone had anonymously donated the materials to our chapter. How cool is that?! This was very providential, and I’m thankful to our Lord that we have someone looking out for us and helping us as our apostolate grows.

Our Lady of the Rosary with Saints

Second, today was the Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting in the Diocese of Joliet. I was appointed to this council after submitting an application less than a year ago. It’s a great opportunity to meet with others in the diocese in order to discuss a variety of topics. It’s also a great opportunity for us to dialogue with our shepherd, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon. At the end of the meeting during our round table, I shared with everyone what’s been going on, and how we’ve officially started our chapter. His Excellency seemed very receptive to this and was glad to see the initiative move forward.

After the meeting, Bishop Conlon stopped me in the hall and mentioned again how glad he was to see this occurring in our area. I had gotten his “blessing” before on this initiative, but I asked again if he approved of what’s been happening lately to which he said, “Yes!” He was curious to know where we’d be going, and I explained to him our initial plans. He mentioned we may have to get permits for certain areas, especially fairs where we may have to register as vendors. He jokingly told me he doesn’t want to bail me out of jail! So it goes without saying that we have to cooperate with local officials in conducting any outreach, especially if it’s not on public property.

So on that note, if you’re not already aware, we’ll be meeting at the Blanchette Catholic Center in Crest Hill on Wednesday, May 30th at 7 PM to make our plan of attack. We’ll all get introduced to each other and figure out what events we should be hitting first. If you’d like to get on the e-mail list for the Joliet Chapter, please send me an email so I can add you!

And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Please keep us in your prayers as we get underway!

We Hit the Mother Load!

Well it looks like we’ve already started off on the right foot! I received a package this morning, and it was bursting with Street Evangelization tracts, literature and material! So how’d this happen exactly?

Once we were made official, I started reaching out to nearby chapters in the area. I got in contact with a couple of them, and I recently just talked with Maria, the chapter coordinator for the Hobart, IN chapter. She had some extra material she wanted to send our way, and I was more than happy to accept her offer. But I had no idea we’d get so much great material. Take a look!

The tracts from SPSE are wonderfully written and edited. They contain material from some of the greatest Catholic authors, apologists, and theologians out there, including Dave Armstrong, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, and John Martignoni. We also received some DVD and CDs, including audio talks by Dr. Scott Hahn and Fr. Mike Schmitz! This will be great material for us to pass out when we start to hit the street!

Of course, I’ve been told by other seasoned veterans that the most well received “gifts” by people that walk by are the Miraculous Medals and rosaries, but these will be great siupplements. In due time, we’ll get a supply of these as well. In addition, I also have some copies of Trent Horn’s new book “Why We’re Catholic”, which was written at about an 8th grade level, so it’s easy enough for all types of people to get into and read. But in any case, I’d like to give a big thanks to Maria for helping us out with the literature and materials!

Stay tuned for more news coming soon!

Our First Post and an Introduction!

Hello to all that may be reading this! My name is Nick, and I’m excited to finally announce that the SPSE Chapter for the greater Joliet area is now live! A quick introduction: I’m a millennial husband and father of two. Also a cradle Catholic, I try to get involved as much as I can on a parish and diocesan level, from teaching catechesis to junior high students, to promoting the benefits of Natural Family Planning for the Couple to Couple League. You can check out my podcast “Ask a Catholic Dude” over on Anchor.FM. I also write for a variety of Catholic publications, and you can see some of my work over at Ascension Press.

Ever since I heard about St. Paul Street Evangelization, I felt drawn to what the great members of this apostolate were trying to accomplish: to preach Jesus Christ, and to be unashamed in doing so. As Catholic Christians, it is our duty to spread the faith to all those that will listen. Our Lord Jesus commanded all of us to preach the Gospel, and to lead all those that are not Catholic into the bosom of Holy Mother Church. That’s what we were equipped to do when we received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation! Now’s the time to utilize those gifts that were given to us by the Holy Spirit! I am excited to start this apostolate in Joliet and the surrounding suburbs, and I hope that if you are reading this, you will also feel inspired to come out and evangelize with us. Please, keep us in your prayers as we get underway! Ask for the intercession of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and for the intercession of St. Paul. We truly wish to do God’s will, and we could definitely use your prayers and support in trying to realize this.

Feel free to contact me at the e-mail address found on the side of this page at any time. We hope to mobilize in the summer, so stay tuned for more updates on meeting times as we coordinate a calendar. Also stay tuned for random blog entries as we ramp up and get ready to go. Hope to see some of you out on the streets with us! God bless!

St. Paul Preaching in Athens

Welcome!

Welcome to your local chapter of St. Paul Street Evangelization.

St. Paul Street Evangelization is a grassroots, non-profit organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking our Catholic Faith to the streets. We do this in a non-confrontational way, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those who witness our public Catholic presence.

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 you to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture. Click Get Involved on the menu to find out how you can help.

To learn more about St. Paul Street Evangelization at the national level, click here.