Some of our team members have been busy visiting parishioner homes as part of their evangelization efforts in recent weeks. Nancy joined the evangelization team at her home parish of Assumption for their bi-annual home visit mission and then last weekend, Deacon Mark and Nancy started parish home visit efforts at the Deacon’s new parish assignment of St. Joseph’s in Ambler.
Both parishes ran information in their parish bulletins about the evangelists coming around town. All parishioners who answered their doors were welcoming. When a parishioner did not answer, a parish bulletin along with a note explaining that we stopped to say hi and to please contact us or the pastor if they would like to speak about anything related to the Church, the parish, or ask for prayers, etc.
For the Assumption parish visits a few weeks ago, about ten teams of two prayed first and then went out with planned routes to knock and try to visit with any parishioners, active or inactive, who lived on their assigned route. The team members wore tags that identified them as members of Assumption parish. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the joy of the team members was palpable. We met some people in their driveways, we knocked on a few homes without answer, and then we were invited into homes as well. When we had the opportunity to speak with folks we explained that we were from their parish and were volunteers coming out to visit parishioners. We asked them how they felt about their parish,how they were doing, we asked how going to Mass was working for them. We witnessed to our own experiences of faith at work in our lives. We asked how the parish can support them and to see if we could pray with them. We were blessed to be allowed to pray with many of the parishioners we met.
On the St. Joseph’s parish visits that began last week, just our single team of two went out, to begin an effort that Deacon Mark has looked forward to for a long time :). The plan is for our St. Paul Street Evangelization team members to support Deacon Mark in his parish visits as needed, and to hopefully get other St. Joseph’s parishioners interested, trained, and on fire for the Holy Spirit to join the effort for their parish as well.
The day prior to going out at St. Joe’s was All Soul’s day and we had no idea of the delight that was in store for us in the homes of Hispanic parishioners. Upon invitation into a parishioner’s home, we were greeted with what appeared to be a party. There were flowers, balloons, food items, pictures, sacramentals and all sorts of colorful celebratory items everywhere! The homeowner, speaking in Spanish to Deacon Mark, told us that the decorations were for the day of the dead that was yesterday. The entire living room was setup as a shrine to remember this family’s faith in God and His mercy for their recently passed loved ones. The beautiful blending of hospitality, fellowship, joy, faith, and prayer was like a beautiful work of art with the Holy Spirit as the artist. It was a privilege to experience it! We were invited into another home of a Hispanic family and were invited to see their beautiful shrine as well. This next family spoke of the difficulties of working long hours and being unable to get to the Sunday Mass as a family. Deacon Mark told them about all of the different parish celebrations and gatherings during the whole week, in the hope of some of them fitting into busy schedules to help bring the family into the parish to a greater degree.
Finally the team was fortunate to sit and enjoy a coffee at the table of a parishioner who confided that she was battling breast cancer. Her twenty-something daughter sat with us as well, and we cannot help but think that our outreach effort also had a positive effect on the young adult daughter’s thoughts on her Church and her parish. We spoke of how the Lord is with us so in our times of trials. Our parishioner told us that she is confident that God will heal her completely. We gave them miraculous medals and we prayed greatly for mom’s healing and recovery from the cancer, as a beautiful blessing to her and her daughter. Please also offer prayers for this mom and all who we visited.
See picture of Deacon Mark at a home decorated for dia de los muertos: