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Detroit - Eastern Market

Country: United States
State or province: Michigan

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Mark Nemecek
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Fruitful Conversations - 8/6/22

August 9, 2022


We had about a dozen conversations that were fruitful in our outing at Eastern Market today.  We talked with Chris about the reality of the devil and about why he chose to reject God. Chris is one of our regulars and often has interesting theological questions and we're always willing to answer them. He's been in many religions before including Islam but we think he's moving closer to the true Faith. We talked to a family for quite a while about reasons to consider the Catholic Church and they were very open. We talked to another man who is struggling with alcohol addiction and asked us to pray that he might someday want to actually give up his addiction. He doesn't want to quit yet even though he knows it's causing damage to his life and his relationships. We let him know that God could help but it's going to take work.

We gave out dozens of Miraculous Medals and rosaries, each of which was received with great joy. Amy also taught several people how to pray the rosary, very patiently talking them through the different prayers and the benefits to praying it. Steve gave an interesting example of his own personal testimony relating why he chooses to be Catholic among all the different Christian options. Please pray for all the people who we spoke with today and all the people that our evangelists all around the country speak to.
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Fruitful Conversations - 8/6/22

August 9, 2022


We had about a dozen conversations that were fruitful in our outing at Eastern Market today.  We talked with Chris about the reality of the devil and about why he chose to reject God. Chris is one of our regulars and often has interesting theological questions and we're always willing to answer them. He's been in many religions before including Islam but we think he's moving closer to the true Faith. We talked to a family for quite a while about reasons to consider the Catholic Church and they were very open. We talked to another man who is struggling with alcohol addiction and asked us to pray that he might someday want to actually give up his addiction. He doesn't want to quit yet even though he knows it's causing damage to his life and his relationships. We let him know that God could help but it's going to take work.

We gave out dozens of Miraculous Medals and rosaries, each of which was received with great joy. Amy also taught several people how to pray the rosary, very patiently talking them through the different prayers and the benefits to praying it. Steve gave an interesting example of his own personal testimony relating why he chooses to be Catholic among all the different Christian options. Please pray for all the people who we spoke with today and all the people that our evangelists all around the country speak to.
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Immersion at the Farmer's Market

July 19, 2022


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Over thirty evangelists went to Eastern Market during the recent Immersion conference. We split into eight teams of four evangelists and covered nearly every block surrounding the huge market. I spent most of the time with Stephen, a student from the University of Illinois.

We offered a Miraculous Medal to a man who approached our table. I asked if he is Christian and if he goes to church. He explained that his father was Muslim and his mother a Christian. Because of this pluralism, he didn't believe that any one religion is right or wrong. I tried to explain that it is a logical fallacy, that there's no way that they can all be true when they have fundamental differences. He didn't want to talk any further but he did put the medal around his neck as he walked away. Mother Mary, lead him to salvation in your Divine Son!

Dan, a team leader from Alabama, spoke to two young Catholic women, including one who recently graduated from Ave Maria University. Dan challenged them to evangelize and invited them to join our team that meets there at the market. Stephen later approached them and also encouraged them evangelize.

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The other side of the market

April 28, 2022


Br. Andre, Steve, and Mark returned to the farmer's market this past Saturday. Historically, we have focused our attention near the northern edge of the market but moved down to the other end last week. We visited a busy pedestrian overpass that goes over the highway and there are always a lot of shoppers and vendors. Mark noticed a bunch of t-shirts hanging on the fence and they all had some kind of Christian message. Mark and Br. Andre talked to the young man, Jordan, and it turns out that he went to school at Br. Andre's parish and went to church there for a few years. Br. Andre gave Jordan a card for the parish as well as a Miraculous Medal and a couple of holy cards. We then invited him to come to a prayer meeting the following Tuesday and join either the men's group or the young adult group. While we talked to Jordan, Steve went ahead and talked to another vendor. Dante was very passionate and happy to talk to us. He wore a shirt that read "your angel upsets their demons" and definitely believes in the battle of good vs. evil. Dante was so excited about the conversation that he openly neglected customers at his booth. We talked for ten minutes on a variety of subjects including prayer, proper worship, and morality. We gave him a Miraculous Medal, two holy cards, and a few different pamphlets. In the end, Steve gave him his business card to follow up.
Steve approached a vendor selling African jewelry and we noticed that he was selling decorative rosaries. Steve then pointed out how there were necklaces with skulls and pagan imagery next to the rosaries. The vendor, Abdou, said that he is Lutheran but he definitely accepts a lot of non-Christian ideas. Steve offered to pray for Abdou, for his family overseas, and for his own relationship with God. As we continued talking with Abdou, a young woman walked by with a cross tattoo on her elbow. Br. Andre excused himself and hurried to catch up to her. Br. Andre talked about the unconditional love of God and our response to His love. Br. Andre offered to pray over her, which she gratefully accepted. The young woman, Sandra, was incredibly thankful and said that was the nicest gesture anyone has ever offered her. Br. Andre then gave her a Miraculous Medal, a holy card, and a business card for his parish.
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Church Community - 4/23/22

April 28, 2022


Br. Andre, Steve, and Mark returned to the farmer's market on a warm and sunny Saturday. We thought about setting up a table at one of the busiest corners but Steve wanted to check in with a vendor that he talked to a couple of weeks ago. We walked through the entire market trying to find one particular vendor and never found him but we did speak to a dozen other people along the way.
Not far down the road, Steve approached Damon, a police officer standing alone. Steve started the conversation talking about mundane things but soon changed the subject to faith. Damon and his family moved around the region a lot when he was young so they were always changing churches; he went to several churches as a child, including at least four Catholic parishes. Damon went to a Catholic high school but didn't like it so he transferred to a public high school. He said that he's Christian and goes to church on occasion but doesn't have a home church. We gave Damon a Miraculous Medal, saying that it would give him many graces from God. Mark gave him two pamphlets, "Why Be Catholic" and "Reasons to Return". We then prayed over Damon, asking God to protect him every day, and restore broken relationships. Steve gave his business card to Damon and offered to have a longer conversation with him. Damon gladly accepted and said that he would call Steve on Monday night. We look forward to talking to Damon again!
We ran into Norma, whom we talked to a few weeks ago. She was there with Kate, her thirty-something daughter. Br. Andre talked to Norma while Mark talked to Kate. The mother-daughter pair rarely receives the sacraments but they pray often and are active with the Daughters of Isabella, a Catholic women's group. Kate still identifies as Christian though she hasn't been to church in a few years. While Kate says that she prays at home, she didn't see the benefit of in-person worship. Mark talked about the importance of face-to-face interaction and the irreplaceable value of the sacraments. Kate often visits her mother, and rightfully so. She was there at the market to collect signatures for a ballot proposal. She agreed that some things are best done in person and some things cannot be done virtually. Why not worship in person with a group if you do so many other activities in person? Mark continued and said Jesus often prayed alone in nature, so it's great to pray at home. However, Jesus also prayed and worshipped in synagogues and at the temple. It's not an either/or choice, it's both. We need to pray privately at home and worship as a community at church.
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Twelve Step Program

April 27, 2022


Br. Andre, Steve, and Mark returned to the farmer's market after taking off Holy Week. We had two lengthy conversations before we even got into the market. Br. Andre and Mark were walking out of the parking lot when we heard a voice call out to us. Then we saw Greg sitting on a bench in front of us and we've spoken to him a few times in the past. We patiently listened as he talked about his daily struggles living on the street. Having worked with soup kitchens and homeless ministry, Mark was able to sympathize and recommend some resources, including a free clinic where Greg could get a much-needed checkup. Greg was still wearing the Miraculous Medal that he received last year so we gave him a rosary and pamphlet. Greg said that he needed two dollars to ride the bus later in the day but he didn't have any money. Br. Andre and Mark both had one dollar available to give him some material assistance. Br. Andre then admonished Greg and encouraged him to take small but consistent steps to get his life together.
Steve then caught up with us and he led a prayer that Greg would trust in the Lord and take the necessary steps to secure housing and make a living, but more than anything, that Greg would pursue a life of virtue and faith. Chris saw us praying from across the street and he approached. Like many people, Chris said that he is spiritual but won't commit to any particular religion. Chris had questions of the holiness of angels, including the fallen angels. Mark and the other evangelists answered his questions but Chris wasn't satisfied with our answers. Br. Andre recommended that if he wanted more substantial answers, then he should read St. Thomas Aquinas and there are parts of the Summa Theologica that would provide specific and detailed answers.
Chris continued and gave credit to God for helping him overcome substance abuse. Steve talked about the Twelve Step Program draws a lot from Catholic spirituality and Catholic disciplines. The process of overcoming addiction is very similar to the approach of overcoming sin and avoiding temptation. Chris refused the offer of a Miraculous Medal but was happy to accept a rosary.
Praised be Jesus Christ!


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4/2/22

April 8, 2022


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Brother Andre, Steve, and I evangelized at the farmer's market last Saturday. Like the previous week, it was fairly cold, so we walked around the covered sheds rather than stand on the corner outside.

Steve offered Miraculous Medals to two different Muslim men. The first, a father and son selling shawarma, accepted the medal and crucifix. Steve explained the medal as an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it has led to many miracles. The second man, selling fruit, bluntly declined. Steve said "Jesus loves you" and kept on walking.

Mark approached Norma, an elderly woman asking people to sign petitions. Norma grew up in Southern California and attended one of the Spanish, Franciscan mission churches. She had fond memories of the San Luis Rey and that community. Mark offered to pray for Norma and she asked us to pray for a relative who was recently diagnosed with a serious illness. We prayed for Norma, her family, and complete healing for her relative. We also gave her a Miraculous Medal, which she put on immediately. Norma shared her testimony of her healing from breast cancer, which has been in remission for nearly 20 years, and she gave all of the credit to God. She shared how she firmly believes in a loving God and she is thankful for all of her blessings.

As you might expect, a Franciscan habit really stands out in a secular marketplace. Several Catholics approached Brother Andre and asked what religious order he was from — Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit. In a few instances, we explained that evangelization is a responsibility for all Catholics, especially the laity. We talked to a FOCUS missionary and he expressed interest in joining us sometime soon. A group of four young women visiting from Chicago stopped and talked to Brother. We encouraged the women to join one of two SPSE teams near them and gave contact info to follow up.



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Spiritually Seeking - 3/26/22

April 5, 2022


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Br. Andre and I were walking through one of the large sheds at the farmer's market when I saw a young woman quickly walk down an aisle. She was wearing a hoodie with an upside-down pentagram, horns, and the number 666. I wanted to talk to her about the Satanic symbolism but she was too far away and quickly walked away. About two minutes later, she turned around and walked right by us. Br. Andre stopped her and said that he wanted to pray for her. The young woman, Carrie, was excited to receive prayer and said that she is spiritually seeking right now.

Br. Andre made the sign of the cross over Carrie's forehead and prayed over her. In prayer, he asked that Carrie would receive childlike faith, among other things. Afterward, Carrie said that part really stood out to her because she's a nanny for a young family and has a special interest in young children. She was overwhelmed with joy and hugged both of us.

Carrie grew up in a devout, Protestant family. However, in college, she felt a need to explore and make her faith her own, not just following what her parents believe. She briefly joined a Quaker community, saying that she enjoyed the simplicity of the religion. Carrie admitted that the pentagram and goat horns were bad but she believes in numerology and didn't question triple six. She has also adopted some Buddhist and New Age beliefs.

Br. Andre then gave her a third-class relic of Blessed Solanus Casey. Carrie had never heard of Blessed Solanus, even though she lives very close to his burial place. We briefly explained the story of Blessed Solanus and Carrie said that she would visit the Solanus Casey Center the next day.

We talked for about 45 minutes on a variety of subjects including the Divinity of Christ, sacramental grace, Christian community, and more. In the end, we invited Carrie to visit St. Mary of Redford. Br. Andre encouraged her to join the Thursday night women's group and invited her to Sunday Mass, especially the evening Mass, which draws a lot of young adults. Carrie thanked us for our time and our gifts and then promised to visit the church soon.



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Rainy Day at the Market

October 22, 2021


Anne, Michael, and Mark evangelized at Eastern Market on a cool and breezy morning. It rained off and on so we set up a table underneath a long overhang, just a step away from the sidewalk.

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Anne had a lengthy conversation with a young man named Antonio. Anne often explains Marian devotion by talking about the love of a mother. Antonio said that he is one of eight children in his family and his mother would do anything for him and his siblings. Anne said that it is the same way with the Mother of God, that she is faithful to Christ and leads Christians to her Son. Antonio accepted a rosary for himself and a few for his family, as well as a couple of pamphlets. Before he left, we prayed with Antonio for wisdom, discernment, strength, and health.

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Lisa slowly passed by our table and Mark offered to pray for her. She stopped and came under the overhang to talk with us. Lisa spoke openly about her problems with uncontrolled diabetes and a recent hospitalization. We prayed with Lisa, asking God to give her the strength to handle all of her daily challenges. We offered Lisa a rosary and she was shocked to learn that they were free. She gladly accepted a rosary, Miraculous Medal, several holy cards, and pamphlets.

 



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9/11/21 - Prayer Ministry at the Farmer's Market

October 15, 2021


Bob, Br. Andre, Steve and I evangelized at Eastern Market last Saturday morning. Br. Andre and Steve grabbed a handful of supplies and walked around the market while Bob and I stayed at our table across the market. Bob and Steve had to leave but Br. Andre and I stayed for another hour. We packed up and went back into the market to evangelize inside. We prayed with a dozen people throughout the market. Some were skeptical and some were apprehensive but everyone that we approached was happy to receive prayer.

There were four different people who saw us praying with others and they later approached us and asked us to pray for them. We met a middle-aged woman selling pumpkins; she's agnostic but was open to our prayers. Br. Andre squatted down, put his hand on her foot, and prayed. A family of three watched us and were curious, after we finished our prayer with the vendor, we went and prayed with the family. After we prayed with the family, a young woman approached us and asked if we were praying with people. We confirmed and she asked us to pray for healing for her sore hip. Br. Andre asked her to put her hand on top of where it hurt, then he put his hand on top of her hand. We prayed and the woman said that she felt a warm sensation. Her pain went from a level 8 to a level 5. We prayed again and her pain went down to a 3. After prayer, we talked about her faith life and she admitted that she goes to a non-denomination church. We talked about our Catholic faith, gave a Miraculous Medal, holy card, and invited her to join us at St. Mary Church.

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9/18/21 - "One True Church"

October 14, 2021


Mark, Michael and Steve returned to Eastern Market on a sunny but breezy Saturday morning.

An elderly woman, Natalia, was walking down the sidewalk and paused in front of our table. Mark offered her a rosary but she didn't respond. Mark offered to pray for Natalia then she approached the table. She began to cry and asked us to pray for her son who is struggling with many addictions. Michael led a prayer for her son, asking that God would break the addictions, Natalia began to cry. We tried to console Natalia and she began to share her Orthodox faith and its similarities compared to Catholicism. Mark emphasized the importance of the sacraments and apostolic succession. Natalia accepted a rosary, several pamphlets, and a Miraculous Medal.

Michael offered a rosary to Wendy as she passed by us. She paused, looked at our table, silently looked at us and smiled. Mark then noticed that Wendy was already wearing a Miraculous Medal and crucifix around her neck. Mark asked if Wendy had any prayer intentions and she asked us to pray for her son — his wedding is in a couple of weeks. Mark led a prayer that the couple would be prepared for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and have a holy marriage. Mark prayed for Wendy's health, that she would live to see her grandchildren and would eventually enter Heaven. Wendy thanked us immensely and left a $20 bill on our table. We declined the donation but she insisted and walked away. Michael took the money and divided it among the poor.

We prayed with Shannon a few months ago. She was passing by when she recognized us and approached our table again. Shannon talked about how she is taking her faith more seriously and has returned to her Presbyterian church. Shannon and Steve had a lengthy conversation about apostolic succession and the necessity of the sacraments. Steve said that Christ established only one church, the Catholic Church. While it is good for her to go to church, it would certainly be best for her to go to the one true church. Shannon didn't object and accepted a green scapular, several pamphlets, medals, as well as Steve's contact info.

 

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9/4/21 - "Jesus loves you and He wants to heal you"

September 13, 2021


Br. Andre, Michael, and I evangelized at Eastern Market on Labor Day weekend.

We set up a table at our usual spot on the corner and had a few short conversations in the beginning. Most of the early conversations were brief but several people accepted Miraculous Medals and a few were happy to receive intercessory prayer. Michael had to leave after an hour so Br. Andre and I took down the table and walked around the market. Br. Andre often receives a "word of knowledge" when he evangelizes — as we walked, he abruptly stopped, turned around, and approached a young woman selling flowers. Brother asked if she was experiencing neck pain. She was surprised to hear that he knew about her pain and was intrigued with what he had to say. Brother told her that "Jesus loves you and He wants to heal you" then she became defensive. We offered to pray for her, which she declined multiple times. We then offered her a blessed Miraculous Medal, which she also declined. Then we simply said "God bless" and kept on walking.

I noticed a woman wearing a large rosary around her neck. I thought that she would be somewhat open to Catholicism so we approached her. Candace described herself as "spiritual but not religious". She accepted a Miraculous Medal and we prayed for her health. Immediately after that conversation ended, a man in his late thirties approached us. He and his wife saw Brother's habit and overheard our conversation so they became curious. The husband, Ryan, asked Brother about his lifestyle and vocation. Br. Andre briefly explained the life of St. Francis and the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience — Ryan was particularly surprised about the vow of poverty.

He also asked why we go to Confession to a priest rather than "directly to God." I responded by quoting John 20:23 ("Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.") as well as James 5:16 ("confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.") I continued and that, yes, of course, God CAN forgive sins on His own power, but it is His will that we repent and confess our sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The couple thanked us for our time but refused any sacramentals. Pray that their curiosity will lead them home to the Catholic Church!

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7/31/21 - "You set the tone for my whole day!"

August 3, 2021


A total of 4 evangelists went to Eastern Market this past Saturday and we worked in 2-hour shifts. Anne and Mark were there 8:00am-10:00am while Steve and Beth were there 10:00am-Noon.

Anne approached a police officer on a bicycle and offered him a St. Michael medal. He accepted the medal and said that he knew that St. Michael is patron of law enforcement. Anne offered to pray with him and listened as he talked about his concerns with his work and his family. Anne lifted all of his concerns to the Lord and prayed that he would experience a renewal of strength and the peace of Christ.

Two men approached our table and asked for a couple of Miraculous Medals. Mark also gave them the associated holy cards and asked if they wanted prayer for anything. One of them said, "Yes, pray for my dad, Charles, he has late-stage cancer and is in a lot of pain." Mark prayed out loud for Charles, for his health and resilience. Mark also asked for peace in the family and that they come to know and love God more. One man thanked Mark and, with a big smile on his face, said "You set the tone for my whole day! Thank you so much!"

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07/17/21 - three teams collaborate

July 23, 2021


SPSE Team Phote

Sean, the team leader from Tempe, Arizona, recently visited Detroit and evangelized with the Eastern Market team last Saturday. Timothy, team leader from Alma/St. Louis in central Michigan, made the 140-mile trek to Detroit. Timothy previously evangelized with Sean when he was visiting Arizona. Mark and Steve from the national office as well as two evangelization students also joined. We split up into three stations since we had six evangelists. We each covered a different corner of the same, busy intersection.

Sean spoke to several devout Catholics and invited them to evangelize with us. We spoke about the responsibility to share our faith, especially since so many people are so far away from God. Sean and Mark had a lengthy conversation with a young couple in their early-mid twenties. The young woman is practicing Catholic and knows a fair amount about the Faith. Her boyfriend is not Catholic and not particularly religious, however, he has attended Mass in the past. Sean talked about the importance of faith in a serious relationship, especially if they decide to marry and have children. They both agreed and listened intently. Sean explained that if a couple has differing viewpoints on important issues it will inevitably cause strain on their relationship. Sean gave his testimony about his own marriage and how a shared religion has produced great results in his marriage. We prayed with the couple, for their discernment and spiritual growth, then both accepted rosaries and pamphlets. The boyfriend accepted a "Why Be Catholic?" pamphlet, promised to read it and follow up with her priest.

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