Bloomington, IN. “Jesus said to [the Apostles], ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20: 22-23).
Having a priest with you while street evangelizing is great on a number of levels. They, in a special way,
by the very office they hold, are “sent” by Christ on the mission of the Gospel. But even if offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation was all that they did, simply having them there to hear confessions and absolve from sin would be an amazing blessing. The Indiana University St. Paul Street Evangelization team enjoys this blessing almost every time they make their weekly evangelization outing on campus.
You may remember Fr. Ignatius of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from an earlier “Story from the Street.” After having joined the team and enjoyed himself so much during his first outing, he’s been out with the group a few times, and, of course, has been ready and willing to hear confessions. This past outing, he was able to do so for the first time. It happened like this: A student approached the team as they gave out rosaries and pamphlets to passersby.
“It’s great that you’re out here!” he said.
Our evangelist replied, “Thanks! … Are you Catholic?”
“Yes, I am!”
“Have you been getting to Mass since you’ve been in school?”
“Well, I actually need to get to confession, because I missed recently.”
“We can handle that right now for you.”
“We got a priest right here.”
“Do you want to confess now?”
“Yeah, yeah, let’s do it!”
Praised be Jesus Christ! Fr. Ignatius heard the student’s confession under a nearby tree, and the young man walked away reconciled and restored, with his sins forgiven. Have you considered becoming a member and evangelist of St. Paul Street Evangelization? Are you an ordained priest? SPSE is a great way to exercise your ministry in the way the Holy Father, Pope Francis asks us to – by reaching out to the peripheries and going to where the people are. Perhaps asking local priests to hear confessions on the street or at the local college campus would be a great way to reach out during the upcoming Year of Mercy, beginning December 8th!