Greetings, fellow Catholic Evangelists!
Happy Feast of St. James the Apostle! Here is an update of our grace-filled encounters this summer. We will be heading out this Saturday, July 28, to Thomas Beach, Lake Calhoun, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Come join us!
The Twin Cities St. Paul Street Evangelization Team has been out several times this summer, at Thomas Beach at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, and at Como Park in St. Paul. Each time we’ve been able to listen and befriend approximately 10-20 people, offering them a free rosary or blessed medal, and most importantly, prayer. Here are some of the stories from our encounters:
At Thomas Beach, even before Marjorie and I had set up, a man saw our sign offering prayer, stopped on his bike, and asked for prayer for his brother who was dying. He was so grateful we were there, and seemed noticeably relieved after we prayed for his brother’s healing, peace and strength. When he mentioned he used to be Catholic but hadn’t been to church in a while, we encouraged him to find more of the peace he just received by getting back to Mass and confession. We met a Muslim man who is in the process of becoming sober, and he accepted prayer and a rosary, saying he had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. We also prayed with a Pentecostal woman and her niece, finding common ground in our love of the Lord, and praying for healing of her family relationships. They both took rosaries and pamphlets on how to pray them. We met several Catholics who were surprised to see us, but very supportive, including Jamie and his dad, who we prayed with, for healing of all Jamie’s pain and suffering from being in a wheel chair. Another young man stopped by on his bike, and Scott, Daryl and Marjorie prayed quite a while for his many intentions, and answered his questions. They are all fantastic evangelists!
A week and a half later, we were outside Como Town, the free amusement park in Como Park, St. Paul. It was a great place to be on a hot day; I only wish we could have handed out water to all the families and young people we met. Again, we met several young Catholics who were surprised and excited to see us, accepting rosaries and prayer, and an invitation to join us! I spoke with one mom and her daughter who declined the rosary and medals I offered, because they were non-denominational Christians and did not pray to icons. After asking a few questions, I understood that they meant praying to idols, and I was able to explain that rosaries, medals, statues and all other sacramentals are not idols we pray to, but similar to the T-shirt she was wearing that had a Bible quote on it. We use these physical things to help us keep our minds, hearts and souls focused on God, and ask the saints to pray for us, just like she and her daughter pray for each other. They still wouldn’t take anything, but they accepted a prayer of thanksgiving for our belief in Jesus and his salvation. Another young mom and three girls stopped by, very intrigued by what we were doing. They attend a non-denominational church regularly, but had never seen Catholics out sharing the faith. After visiting several minutes, we learned that one of the girls, Kylie, was a foster daughter, and wanted prayers for her dad, Calvin, who was in jail. She looked so old when we had started talking, carrying the weight of the world on her 10 year old shoulders. After we prayed, her smile returned, and she was eager to send the rosary, pamphlet and St. Michael medal to her dad. Her foster mom and sisters were amazing witnesses of what God’s love can do in a tragic situation such as Kylie and her dad are living. The mom said they would read the holy cards and pamphlets while they had their ice cream later, and pray for Kylie’s dad. God is so good!
The highlight of that week was returning to Como Park, again outside the amusement park, to evangelize with Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Blessed Mother came through on the weather just in time; it stopped storming 20 minutes before we were scheduled to start. We had enough evangelists to cover three of the four corners of the intersection outside the park. We prayed with about 25 Mennonites from Sauk Centre, MN and they were very gracious and supportive. A youth group from an Evangelical church in North Minneapolis stopped by several times, eager to take all we were giving away. When I asked them if they needed any prayers, they pointed to their friend, Christy, who got caught shoplifting. Christy did not want to join us, and sat on a bench away from the crowd. We prayed for healing of Christy’s heart, for her to know that God loves her and forgives her, and that she can make better choices in the future. Later on in the day, one of her friends came back, and asked for more medals and a rosary for Christy. We had a wonderful talk, in which I found out she is Catholic, but goes to the youth events with her friend at the Evangelical church. Her mom takes her to Mass every Sunday and she was very excited to see the Archbishop across the street, but too shy to get her picture taken with him. I asked her if she would be a special friend to Christy, and pray for her change of heart every day and help her to change her life. She promised to do so. A young woman and her sister, Samantha and Amelia, passed by and declined a rosary or medal. Then I saw the Christian “ichthys” (fish) symbol tattooed on her arm and aske if she was Christian and if she needed prayers for anything. Her eyes filled with tears, and she shared with me that she and her sister were at the park trying to forget that their brother had committed suicide 3 years ago, at the age of 13 on that very date. I offered again to pray for Ethan, and for Samantha and Amelia, and we prayed a long time for healing of their sorrow, and that they could trust in our loving and merciful God. When we had finished, I assured them I would keep praying for all three of them, and their family. Samantha then said, “I saw you earlier but didn’t want to come over. I now know God put you here today just for us, for me. I can’t thank you enough.” If I never evangelize another person, I know God is still blessing our apostolate, because of my meeting these two sisters.
The Archbishop was able to share his faith and prayers with several people, including a Burundi family of 12 on vacation from their home in Fargo, ND. They all wanted rosaries, and then asked the Archbishop to pray the Hail Mary with their family. The smiles on their faces says it all.
Deb and I were in Duluth this month presenting a Basic Evangelization Training to 33 enthusiastic Catholics from 4 different parishes, including one priest and 2 permanent deacons. They ranged in age from 12 to 85, and worked hard to absorb all the information we presented. Afterwards, we took several of them out to two locations in Duluth, the Rose Garden and Canal Park. Even though a few of them went along “just to watch”, by the end of the day, they all were joyful handing out rosaries, encountering people and praying with them. When we returned to the parish for a debrief, I felt like I was at the campfire after Jesus sent out his disciples for the first time. The stories were astounding, hope-filled and joyful. One man even wondered if we had “planted” a person at the Rose Garden so they would be encouraged by a positive encounter. We ensured him we did not; it was all God’s doing. He was even more amazed.
God has been so full of graces for our team this summer. Please help us pray for all the people we encountered and will encounter. And consider joining us! God bless you all. Denise