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Chippewa Falls - Our Lady of the Falls

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State or province: Wisconsin

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John Shakal
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"How I wish it were already blazing!" - Welcoming John Shakal as New Team Leader

August 8, 2022


Peace, friends! Our prayers are answered as we welcome a new team leader! Following is my post on the Our Lady of the Falls social media this week:

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Luke 12:49

In this passage from St. Luke’s Gospel, one can almost hear the longing in Jesus’ voice. This begs a question: do you and I share His longing? Do we understand His desire for us to set a fire on this earth? Sharing the Gospel - lighting this spiritual “fire” - is evangelization. Evangelization is essential to Our Lady of the Falls’ mission to invite all people to encounter Christ and inspire them to become saints. However, many of you may not be aware that there is a Catholic evangelization team right here in Chippewa Falls! 

I am happy to share that John Shakal, parish Outreach and Evangelization Coordinator, will be stepping up as leader of our local St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) team. In 2017, I founded the team through Holy Ghost parish, with activities such as evangelizing at Irvine Park, OneFest, the Bridge to Wonderland Parade, and through prayer ministry at St. Francesca Resource Center. The team includes members from all of the city parishes and, thus, is a great example of the increased collaboration we all hope for. However, after beginning my work at MACS in 2019, I have not been able to devote very much time and energy to the team. Thus, I am so very grateful to John for stepping up to the call to team leadership, and excited to see what the Lord has in store.

You may be asking, what exactly is SPSE? Founded in 2012, SPSE’s mission is to train, equip, and mobilize Catholics for the urgent work of evangelization. Nationally, SPSE provides the tools and resources for Catholics to engage the culture in a simple, non-confrontational method of evangelization which involves making themselves available to the public to answer questions about the faith and to pray with those who request it. True evangelization begins with listening and authentic friendship, continuing with proclamation of the message of salvation (kerygma) and invitation to follow Jesus in His Church. Often this involves sharing sacramentals such as rosaries or Miraculous medals and praying with others. Believe it or not, in five years of evangelizing, not one person has refused me an offer to pray with them! 

Joining our evangelization team is one way to live out the call to become a missionary disciple. As people in the pews, it is normal for each of us to be in a different place in our relationship with God. A beginning disciple has committed their life to Jesus and is just beginning to grow in habits of discipleship like prayer, fellowship, etc. An intentional disciple consciously lives the habits of discipleship and has a close relationship with God through His Church. Finally, missionary disciples are both inward and outward-focused in their faith, having embraced the mission to “set the earth on fire” with Jesus’ love. They have a strong desire to use their gifts to build up the Body of Christ.

I invite you to ask the Lord in prayer whether He might be calling you to missionary discipleship through involvement in our parishes’ SPSE apostolate. If you would like to learn more, please check out the team website at www.streetevangelization.com/chippewafalls or email our new team leader, John Shakal, at jshakal@ourladyofthefalls.org 

No matter what “level” of discipleship you might find yourself, know that God sees you as you are, loves you as you are, and in that love is always calling you to more.

In Christ our hope,

Molly