Pensacola, FL. The mission of the priest is to be a witness of the Gospel, a minister of reconciliation, in the person of Christ the Head of the Church. Though priests do this in their parishes and other venues all the time, it is great to have them out on the streets with our lay evangelists. Here is an account from Father Kevin of the Pensacola, Florida team, on doing evangelization in public for the first time in years:
“I haven’t shared the Good News on the street for over a decade like I did last night, and it was great to get back in the saddle when it comes to public evangelization. That word alone, ‘evangelization,’ can be so loaded for people due to sour experiences of the past of street preachers who start with words of judgment. That is not what we did, and it was refreshing not only for us but for the people who encountered us. Last night, we simply offered people smiles, greetings, and rosaries or informational handouts. The responses were overwhelmingly positive. We made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I saw families of children I baptized (but had not kept in touch); I saw family members of deceased loved ones whose funeral I celebrated; I reconnected with parishioners from around Pensacola and pleasantly surprised them to be out in public to encounter them outside the parish. I offered Catholics and non-Catholics alike free copies of Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel and we gave out over a dozen of them.”
“The most meaningful interaction for me was with a homeless man who had sincere questions about Catholicism. He had visited many churches, none of them Catholic, and had very basic questions about our belief in Jesus and the Scripture. He was genuinely interested in whatever church could offer him a deeper encounter with the Lord. We talked for about 10-15 minutes before he headed back to his camp for the night, and I trust we’ll run into each other again in God’s timing.”
“There can be a lot of self-induced hype when we try to bring our faith to others out of our comfort zones, but last night was a confirmation of just how simple it is. We pray beforehand, trust that the Spirit will lead the way and bless our encounters and then we just offer a joyful invitation to share in the encounter with Jesus Christ that has filled us with joy. We are merely the stewards who scatter the seeds of truth and love. God does the rest.”
Thank you for your ministry, Fr. Kevin, and for your servant’s heart in reaching out to others!
Let’s encourage our priests to join us in street evangelization – but first, if you haven’t yet joined us, why not contact us today?