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Country: United States
State or province: Illinois

Team Leader
Nick LaBanca

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Report From Outing at Lockport Canal Days 2022

June 25, 2022

Hey everyone, Nick here, and I serve as the Team Leader for our Joliet chapter. Below is my testimony from a couple of weeks ago, when we went out to our city's annual festival, and the bulk of my experiences took place on Saturday, while the team was out there as a whole both Saturday and Sunday, all day. We set up our booth on the main drag, close to the carnival where people were walking by throughout the day. We gave away many rosaries and prayed with many, many people. Some were Catholic and thanked us for being out there. Others appreciated our presence and call to prayer. Most people did not know what the Rosary was, so it was a great opportunity to help others walk through Scripture and give them the pamphlet on how to pray it.

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A couple of lengthy encounters took place, the first of which was with a young mom, "Anne". Her son had run off to a ride, and left her holding his corn on the cob! She said she wanted to take one of each of our prayer cards and was very open to prayer and glad to see us there. We asked her where she went to church and she said she used to go to a non-denominational church but hasn't really been back lately and said she needs to go back. I asked her if she's ever thought about Catholicism. She said she just couldn't believe in a church that has priests, doesn't like Confession, etc. I asked her to expound on this a little bit and she recycled some major talking points from the media on how priests are abusers, should be allowed to get married and said that with her personality she just wouldn't be able to sit through a Mass as she said she tried it before. We talked an I allayed her fears and told her that there's a lot of division in the world right now, and while our Station Leader, Rachel, acknowledged that there are some bad priests out there, there are some very good and holy ones as well. She willingly took a "Why Be Catholic?" pamphlet after that.

We asked if she had any prayer intentions and she asked for blessings upon her and her son, help finding a new house, and help getting past old addictions. We prayed together and she commented that she has always believed in a higher power, but she said she was always confused on how she should address her prayers. She says she knows Jesus is God's Son, so she ends her prayers saying something like "thank you God, through your Son Jesus". She then said she knows "God created Jesus" but doesn't understand the relationship sometimes. I paused, realizing what she said. I asked her if she believed Jesus was her Savior. She said, "yes", and I asked her if she'd been baptized. She again replied in the affirmative and said she wished she could be baptized again since it was such a profound experience for her! I assured her that she only needed to be baptized once, and that God had washed away all her sins right there! She then rightly stated, "Yea I know, but I've messed up so many times since then! That's why I want to be baptized again!" I smiled and told her that's why we have the sacrament of Confession, that Jesus instituted this and gave the apostles, His priests, the ability to forgive sins through His Name. My brother, evangelizing with us for the first time, told her he just went today, and he felt great afterward! He gave her a Confession pamphlet with the examination of conscience, which she willingly took.

I then used this opportunity to return back to her statement on Jesus Christ. As I look back now, I see how fitting this was on the day before Trinity Sunday! I told her that since Jesus is God's Son, this means that Jesus and God the Father have a very special relationship. I asked her if we could read some Scripture together and she said, "Of course." I opened up to the beginning of the first chapter of the Gospel of John. I read her the first verse: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I stopped and asked her what she thought was meant by the Word. She thought about it for a moment, and answered that the Word must be God's voice. I told her she's right, but that there's even more to it. The Word isn't just a voice, but a Person. We read that verse again, and I told her that when we say "the Word" this is a name for Jesus Christ, God the Son. I asked her if she was baptized with the Trinitarian Formula, naming the three Divine Persons. She said that she was. I told her that this means Jesus is fully God, just as God the Father is and the Holy Spirit. We then read the next two verses: "He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him.." I repeated again the truth that Jesus is God, and it's right here in Scripture. She then said, "Whoa! No way! I never knew that!" It was definitely a palpable moment, to tell someone for the first time that Jesus was God! Whoever had taught her before had not done a very good job, obviously, and she's surely not the only one to think this way. But we kept talking and I told her that God loved her so much, that He became man to save her from her sins, as we couldn't pay that debt back. After preaching the kerygma to her, I gave her the Holy Trinity pamphlet which she happily took. After that, I told her it might be worthwhile to look more into the Catholic Church, and since the parish in Lockport had a subscription to, I gave her a business card from the parish with the instructions to sign up for Formed. I told her it was like a Catholic Christian Netflix, and she happily took it and said she'd check it out! Please pray for her continued conversion and for her son's!

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Another gentleman we encountered shortly after, "Pete", had a very specific question for us. He asked us if we know of Captain Myles Keogh, an Irish soldier fighting for the US who died during General Custer's last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn. He said Captain Keogh was the only man whose corpse was not mutilated, and it was because he was found wearing a Lamb of God medal. He wanted to know what this medal was and why it had such an effect. My brother and I said we had never heard this story, and we would look into it, and Pete revealed he was writing a book on different religions and the miracle therein. We started talking a bit more and were just about to ask him if he'd ever considered Catholicism when he was called away by a relative. My brother and I hoped he would return, which he eventually did an hour later.

I asked him what kind of religions he had explored. He said everything from Christianity to Judaism to beyond. I asked where he sat with things now, and he said he has an old Bible he reads every day, but he said it's not the King James Bible because that has missing books. I asked him if he meant books like Wisdom and Tobit, to which he answered affirmatively. He wanted a Bible that kept Scripture whole and entire with the "Deuterocanon". I then asked him if he professed Jesus to be God and if he professed Jesus to be his Savior. He said he most certainly did, and I then asked him if he had ever thought about Catholicism. He said he had in the past, but he said now he reads his Bible and is content with that and believes everyone should "have their own interpretation". I asked him if I could give my testimony as to why I was Catholic. He said that would be fine.

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Typically, I bring up the Eucharist, but I found myself going on a different tangent, and it wasn't until after our conversation that I realized I was addressing his error on private interpretation. Surely, might this have been the Holy Spirit giving the right words?! I told him that when I read Scripture, I see that God wants all of us to be one, just as the Father and the Son are. He agreed with that, and I said it's a scandal that the different Christian creeds cannot agree on basic teachings, leading people who don't know Jesus to be turned off by this. I then said that we need a guide, and that Jesus founded a Church and that His Apostles have their office of teaching continuing to our very day! He said he appreciated my testimony, and shortly after a brief tangent, he said he had to run to get back to his preteen daughter. He closed by saying he knew that God had healed him of a major injury 3 years ago, and he's still around now so he can be with his daughter. He's thankful for that, and I asked if I could give him a "Why Be Catholic" pamphlet as he was clearly discerning God's will with the writing of his book. He accepted, and I told him we'd stay in touch so I could get back to him on Captain Keogh. He wrote down his email, I gave him my card, and we parted amicably. I plan on emailing him back very soon after doing some research, so please pray that I find the right words to say to him to bring him closer to the one, true Church! And please pray for all those our team encountered over the weekend!