Syracuse, NY. Caleb sent us his account of the Cortland team’s outing to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Syracuse. Here is his report:
We had a blessed day out this March 12th. The weather was sunny and warm all day. Those who met me in Cortland, carpooled with me to Syracuse. On the way we prayed the Rosary. We started our day in Syracuse at a special St. Patrick’s Mass at the Cathedral. We were reminded of the faith and history of the Irish in Syracuse, but through the prayers were also reminded of St. Patrick’s apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. St. Patrick pray for us! I could think of no better way to honor him by going out to proclaim the Good news and call his people back to conversion.
We then went out to the parade and set up the table of free resources. In addition to all the normal literature, we handed out green Rosaries with Celtic crosses and St. Patrick/St. Bridget holy medals with the St. Patrick holy card and the Rosary album card. We also had SU colored (orange beads and blue cord) Rosaries with St. Marianne Cope holy cards and the Rosary album card. All Rosaries were graciously hand made by Lynn Hewitt and family, and those who helped them.
One gentleman named Don who had participated with me doing SPSE in Cortland last year stopped by and was glad to see us. He had made his own trifold explaining the life of St. Patrick with the question, “Do You Know who St. Patrick Was?”, and was handing these out. We also had another participant show up who had heard about our efforts in the Diocesan Formation for Ministry program and she helped us evangelize. She is interested in bringing SPSE to her area as well.
Our other evangelists had many interactions at the table, which seemed to attract the most people. I myself met several passersby. One man named Donald was clearly intoxicated but was able to spend some time with me to take some literature and a Rosary. He stopped by several times and I was able to find out more about him. He is a young veteran and was very moved by our witness.
I met one young couple from Central Square. The woman identified herself as Catholic, and the man as Christian. I was able to explain the importance of praying the Rosary and the Rosary as a Gospel prayer centered on Jesus. She said she had not been to Mass for some time because of many personal struggles. I told her that God wanted to give her the graces to make it through her struggles, and, as St. John Vianney once said, “Not going to communion is like dying of thirst beside a stream.” I encouraged her that healing can be found by going back to confession and attending Mass regularly. She said she wanted to get back. I also told her partner that anyone could pray the Rosary. They took more literature and expressed their thankfulness for our witness.
I would say the majority of people we met identified themselves as Catholic, some practicing and others not. Many not practicing expressed a sense of guilt in not getting to Mass more often. Their excuse? They were “bad Catholics.” I encouraged them, saying that God wanted to bless and not condemn them, that forgiveness was possible, and that God wanted to give them the graces they needed in difficulties, especially through coming back to the Church. There was so much commotion it was difficult to have more meaningful conversations so I resorted to just encouraging them that God wanted to pour out His blessings on them, especially in the Mass. I explained that the Rosary was a powerful life changing prayer (not a piece of jewelry), and a good one to pray when times were difficult.
After walking around and greeting many in the crowds with, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Would you care for a free St. Patrick’s day Rosary?”, I would then explain the prayer card and access to the online streaming Rosary album. I could only pray that those who were drunk would realize their need for salvation and reach out to God when they sober up. There were so many who were drunk.
I met one woman who said she would take the Rosary, but then asked what it was. I asked her if she was Christian and she was. I asked her if she read the Bible and she did. I asked if she read the Gospels, and Who was at the center of the Gospels. She could answer “yes,” and “Jesus.” I explained to her that the Rosary is a Gospel prayer, a meditation on the life of Christ through the eyes of His Mother Mary, who was very close to Him. She asked if it was intercessory prayer and I was able to explain the intercession of the saints, that Catholics believe our brothers and sisters in heaven can and do pray for us and with us to God. She was thankful for the explanation.
I remember a woman who asked for Rosaries and literature for her children who were attending Catholic school as she herself did at one time, though she was not a practicing Catholic. Another woman wanted a Rosary for her son, Andrew, who was in juvenile detention. There were so many other interactions; I’m already having a difficult time remembering them!
I want to say thanks to Penny, April, Mary Kay, and Lou who were all able to help.
Praised be Jesus Christ! Thank you, Caleb!