Report From Morris Corn Fest 2023
October 7, 2023
Our last big outing of the summer just took place on the last day of September, and we had fantastic weather! This was our second year at Corn Fest and we met many people who needed prayer, and also many others who accepted the literature and sacramentals offered to them. One of our Station Leader's Mary Beth, saved the day when we started running out of supplies midway through! Below is a report from another one of our Station Leader, Rachel, who organized and led this event:
The morning started out slow with a lot of polite "no, thank you's" to our offers of free rosaries and medals. Even though we had our table banner that read "FREE ITEMS," many people were in the shopping mindset and were shocked that we were offering these things free. After the first couple hours (and some prayer), the foot-traffic picked up. Rachel, Tim, and Michael gave away several rosaries, St. Benedict medals, and Holy Face of Jesus medals, and they took many prayer requests. After the supplies started to get low, Mary Beth arrived with Miraculous medals and St. Michael/Guardian Angel medals.
Some of the more noteworthy conversations:
- a man who said he was a Unitarian in a Presbyterian denomination but appreciated the consistent pro-life ethic of the Catholic Faith
- a mom who said she was Lutheran but encouraged her two children to pick out rosaries and said she wanted one of all the pamphlets we had
- a woman who said she was Lutheran but was interested in knowing more about the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus
- a deaf couple who took several pamphlets and showed us pictures of a time they got to meet Pope Francis — although we couldn't understand everything they said, they were clearly emotionally moved with joy by our interaction
Please pray for all those we reached, and we'd love to have any of you reading this join us in our mission of inviting people to enter into (or return to) our Lord Jesus Christ's Catholic Church!
Report from Winfield's Good Old Days
September 20, 2023
I shared a post on Instagram recently about how an ordinary life is something to aspire to. Celebrities may get attention, but it is the common person that should get respect. Everyone we meet has a complex story, but sometimes we forget when we get caught up in our own messes and joys. I think that’s one of the reasons I evangelize. I love hearing people’s stories, and helping them if I can. The Winfield fair I attended recently helped me reach souls and get to know some strangers!The day started off a bit slow. But when it picked up, we were busy! If I had to estimate, between 60-70 people came to our booth. Me and the other leader, Bill, had so many good conversations! A man came up saying he was about to enter RCIA, but his family didn't understand why he wanted to. I empathized with him, because most of my family aren't religious. Some non Catholic Christians, like Protestants and non denominational Christians, came up. We showed charity towards them and answered the questions they had.Moments of evangelization come in unexpected places too. The booth next to us was selling organic dog food. However, the employees were Catholic. In between people coming up, I would talk to the employees. One of them asked for prayers for an important meeting she had, as well as for her mom. You never know who you'll meet at public events.
Next, my report from the same day:
It was a blast being at the "Good Old Days" Festival, and since the whole street that the local parish was on was blocked off, we had our booth just yards away from the church where our Lord Jesus was reserved in the tabernacle. Our Station Leader , Bill, was able to secure us a spot for the weekend, and with his help we had some fantastic conversations!A young couple and their one year old son walked up to our booth. The mother was a bit more talkative, saying she wanted to take a rosary. I asked her if she knew how to pray the Rosary and she said she had prayed it once or twice with her aunt and grandmother, and I gave her a "How to Pray the Rosary" pamphlet which she happily took. She appreciated knowing that this was a walkthrough Scripture. She then continued speaking more in depth with one of our other Certified Evangelists, Trish. They had a fantastic conversation where Trish exhorted her to return back to a full practice of the Catholic faith. Hopefully Trish can fill us in more of their great conversation, as Trish came away from that conversation beaming!
But my attention had turned to the father, who we'll call "Guillermo". He was a bit stand-offish but he wasn't backing away from our table with his son. I engaged him in conversation and asked where he was from. He said he grew up on the Southside of Chicago and went to one of the local Catholic high schools there, nearby where the White Sox play. We both commiserated, lamenting how awful a season the White Sox were having this year, wishing they would start playing some better baseball! I asked him if he wanted any rosaries or medals, and he said he'd take one of the saint medals. He then mentioned without prompt that he had been away from the Catholic faith since high school, but it was more so that he just stopped going to church, and not so much that he stopped believing his Faith was true. I told him that he's always welcome back, and now that he has his son, it's a perfect time to come back.
I thought about asking him to seek baptism for his son, but while I was trying to figure out how best to word it, he blurted out, "If I could get baptism for my son, how can I do that? Who do I call? I don't know where to go". I found out he lived in the next town over and told him he could just simply call the parish and they will set up baptism for him. He knew that he had dropped the ball in getting his son baptized, but it seemed providential that we were there at the same time he and son were so that we could prompt him to give his son salvation, and also come back to the practice of the faith himself. I also gave him the "reasons to return to the Catholic Church" and the "True Worship" pamphlet on the Eucharist, along with a rosary that he requested. He also asked me "Who would be a good saint to pray to for my son." I thought for a moment, and told him to pray to St. Joseph. I told him that God our Father had entrusted St. Joseph to be our Lord Jesus' earthly father. If we entrust our children to St. Joseph's prayers, we cannot go wrong. I also told Guillermo that St. Joseph would be a model for him, too. I urged him to pray to St. Joseph often and gave him a holy card with his image on it. Finally, I told him that his parish has FORMED.org. I gave him a postcard with the instructions to sign up and urged him to watch "Reborn: You, Your Child and the Heart of Baptism". I told Guillermo that this would help him and his son's mother to understand more about this great gift he was thinking of giving his child. I then asked if we could pray together, and we did, invoking God to bless Guillermo and his family with the gift of faith. Please pray for Guillermo for his continued conversion, and that his son may be baptized!
We had many children coming up to the booth, some from the parish and school there at the Winfield parish. We didn't engage in too much conversation if the parents weren't there, but we had some good encounters and many children liked picking out their favorite saints and other medals. One little girl, maybe around 9 or 10, came up to our booth with mom and aunt, and she said that she really liked St. Michael. I gave her medal and holy card and told her that she has a powerful intercessor. The mom said she remembered doing saint reports at her Catholic school and how great it was to learn about the lives of the saints, especially unexpected details! Found out they also live in the neighboring town, which has a parish school, too. I mentioned to the mom and aunt that they have FOMED.org through the parish, and told them they should watch some of the shows there with their daughter/niece, and that there was a lot of content there to help them grow in the faith as I mentioned my wife and I were doing a Bible Study on there. Both said they didn't remember anyone at the school mentioning it, and they were very happy to know about it and took the instructions home to utilize the FORMED platform in their domestic Church.
Later on, a middle-aged man eating an ice cream cone came up. He was looking at our table and asked him if he wanted a particular medal or rosary. He said he wasn't sure since there was such an assortment. He gave his name (we'll call him Titus), and told him while we didn't have any of those, we did have St. Paul, and that he and St. Titus were pretty close! He joyfully accepted and gave him a St. Paul medal. Started talking with Titus, asked him where he went to church, and he said he was raised Catholic, but then his ex-wife invited him to "Christian community church" and he's been going there ever since as it was the "first place he was ever personally invited to". He said there were just things that he didn't understand when going to Mass, and then I pressed him a bit and he said in similar words that "the priest often wouldn't make sense during his homilies. I'm a simple guy and sometimes the priest would just be talking way above my head. I'm sure those priests meant well, but when I go to my church now, I understand Scripture better, and I know what's going on now." He said he went to Catholic school all his life, but he just feels more comfortable there and said that, "we're all on the same path. I'm sorry if that's offensive, but that is what I believe. It doesn't really matter if some go to one congregation and others go elsewhere. We all love Jesus and follow Him" I told him I didn't take offense, but I asked him if I could give him a few reasons as to why I still go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day and why I still consider myself Catholic. He said he would really appreciate hearing that, as long as I didn't mind that he finish his ice cream cone!I started by quoting our Lord from John's Gospel where he prays to the Father that all the followers He has been given may be one. I told him just like how St. Paul, St. Timothy and St. Titus were pretty "tight", God the Father and God the So (and the Holy Spirit) are even tighter! That is the vision that Jesus Christ had for His Church; that all Christians be of one mind and one heart. I then mentioned how St. Paul warns us against false teachers, even if they are an angel; if a different Gospel is being preached, we must reject it. So I mentioned to him that unfortunately, there are false teachers out there, so how do we discern false teaching? He agreed and said all over his church, there are verses posted on the walls, several of them recalling St Paul and S. Peter's words about being on the lookout for false teachers and those that twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. I then lightly mentioned the Eucharist and said that I, and all Christians, need the Eucharist to live. I asked him then what his congregation does with "communion". How often do they receive it? He answered that they receive communion every week actually, but it's just bread and grape juice instead of wine. I pressed him and asked what does he believe, and his congregation believe, that the Eucharist is? He said he's not sure, but mentioned he remembered what was taught to him as a boy regarding the Eucharist. He then said, "You know there's another thing that's bothered me", and when he said that I knew that there was an underlying reason why he left the Catholic faith; it wasn't merely his ex-wife's invitation to another ecclesial community. I was curious to what the reason was, asked him what bothered him, and he then revealed that one of his sons came out as having same-sex attraction. He wondered aloud how could his son be rejected? He said that the Catholic Church does not accept homosexuals and that his new community is more accepting.
But I could tell that Titus had some reservations, making qualifiers about how they don't necessarily promote homosexuality, but they love everyone and accept his son, whereas he said his son didn't feel accepted in the Catholic Church and at the Catholic school he sent him to. I told him that Jesus absolutely loves his son as he is, and that the Catholic Church does accept him and welcomes him to participate in the life of Christ. But I tried to make distinctions, gently, between a predisposition ad actual acts. I told him God has a plan for sexuality, and that starts in marriage. Both of us agreed marriage is only between a man and a woman. I told him his son, as we all do, has choices to make, but the mere fact of him having same-sex attraction is NOT sinful, and the Church wants to walk with both him and his son. Titus then wondered aloud if he had something to do with his son going down this path, if he wasn't doing things good enough in the past. I stopped him and told him God doesn't want him to dwell on the past. Focus on how we can do better for Christ and those around us NOW, in the present. I told him I have four sons, and I have the same worries that he does, that I'm not doing things right. But God does not want us to beat ourselves down. If we make mistakes, we get up, and let Jesus heal us. I then turned our conversation back to where we can find that healing: in the Eucharist, which we are all invited to. I asked him if he misses this in his new church.
Titus said he wasn't sure, but signaled he was open to learning more about why I had such faith in the Eucharist. I asked him if we could read some Scripture together. He happily agreed, and together, we read the Bread of Life discourse in John 6. As I was reading it, I handed him the "True Worship" pamphlet on the Eucharist, and he asked me which specific verses I was reading with him so he could read them on his own and go to his pastor. He asked me to write those verses on the pamphlet, and I did. As we went through the whole discourse, I put special emphasis on John 6:53, "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you have no life within you". I also emphasized how many people walked away, and he seemed taken aback a bit by that, and he commented that those people that walked away didn't want to stick by Jesus when the going got tough. I reminded him that some of those people were Jesus' OWN DISCIPLES. He agreed and said that this was indeed telling. I asked him again, what does your congregation believe? I pointed to our sandwich board with Jesus holding the Eucharist. I said to Titus that Jesus wasn't just holding bread in that image. He's holding Himself; He's giving Himself to us!
Titus said he didn't know what his pastor believed, and he said maybe it's the same belief that we as Catholics have. I told him in no uncertain terms that his his congregation does not believe the Eucharist is truly Jesus; they see it as a symbol. So I told him to ask his pastor about it at church the next day (Sunday), and really meditate on these Scriptures himself with the help f the pamphlet I gave him. He said he would for sure. I also found out he lived two towns away, and that the parish he used to belong to had Formed. I gave him the FORMED.org postcard and told him to log on and watch at LEAST the first episode of "Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist". He told me that he would and seemed genuinely interested in viewing it. I had already kept him for about 20 minutes at this point, but never at any point did he try to walk away; he was very engrossed in our conversation. I told him I would pray for him, asked him if he would pray for me, and then I invited him to pray together. We asked out Lord for a strengthening of virtues in our lives, that we could be shining lights for our sons, and walk closer to the truth as Jesus has revealed it to all mankind. I asked the Lord to bless Titus and that the graces he received as a child in Confirmation may be activated. He made the Sign of the Cross with me as we ended our prayer, and he thanked me for our time together. Please pray for him and his family that they return home to the one, true Church; the Catholic Church!
As we were starting to pack up, a couple of kids (maybe in 5th grade or so) came up to the booth and wanted to try spinning the wheel that Bill had brought. Upon spinning the wheel, the person is able to pick out a snack. As they were getting their snack, the mother of the two boys came up and said they had to go, but she lingered looking at everything on the table. After about 10-15 seconds I asked her if she'd like a rosary, and she said she did need another one for her car and took a minute to pick out the right color she wanted! I asked her if she knew how to pray the Rosary, and she answered affirmatively, but then added, "but you don’t want to know when the last time I went to Mass was", and laughed nervously. Bill and I smiled and told her that she is always welcome to come back, and there's nothing keeping her from returning.
Bill then gave her a personal invitation, especially since they live in Winfield. He said, "on behalf of the good people at St. John the Baptist, I invite you to come join me and the others for Mass, along with your children". He added they often have parish dinners, and she can stay for the food after Mass! I gave her a brief testimony on why I continue to go to Mass at least every Sunday, and said that I know I need to be sustained by our Lord in the Eucharist. I mentioned a bit of the Bread of Life discourse and told her that I know I need the life-giving bread from Heaven; otherwise, there's no way I'll be able to get through this life in one piece. I asked her if there was any intentions she had on her heart to pray for. She mentioned her sick sister really needs some prayers. I asked if we could just pray right now, and she obliged. She gathered her two sons and said, "Let's pray for auntie!" The kids didn’t know sign of the cross, but she encouraged them to pray. Before they left, I gave her the "reasons to return" and "Eucharist" pamphlets, and again encouraged her to come back home to the Catholic Church.
Reports from Grove Fest 2023
July 12, 2023
The following reports come first from our Station Leader, Rachel, and first time evangelist Eric. Looks like they had a fantastic outing!
GroveFest team —
WOW. You all blew me away with delight on Sunday. I've been on several St. Paul Street Evangelization missions, and never before have I seen such a huge response!
Thank you to Buck for helping me with logistics, for getting us a better spot, and for getting us extra time.
Veterans Lori, Mary Beth, and Tim along with first-timers Eric and Annemarie spread out and passed out rosaries and medals almost as quickly as I could untangle and assemble them. I manned the table and prayed, trying to keep everyone supplied with rosaries, medals, pamphlets, and prayer cards, while also trying to keep everything organized and protected from the wind that wanted to blow it all away! (Come, Holy Spirit!)
While I remind everyone that SPSE policy is that we don't initiate or pursue deeper conversations with unaccompanied minors, I would say 75 percent of our encounters were with teens, preteens, and even younger children who wanted rosaries and medals! Due to this, and also due to the periodic rainstorms that punctuated our afternoon, we de-emphasized the paper materials and concentrated heavily on distributing our sacramentals.
The first people to approach us were a group of very young children (probably younger than 8) who wanted rosaries for themselves and some to give to others. One little girl wanted one for her teacher "because she talks about it [the Rosary]." I also heard several teens talking with Eric about their faith. One really liked the brown scapular Eric was visibly wearing and showed us a purple scapular of his/her(?) own! (Eric, maybe you can fill in any noteworthy details?).
Our ENTIRE rosary supply was cleaned out! Mary Beth donated her extra stash of rosaries, and those were all distributed as well. All the Sacred Heart medals we had were given away too. "I want Jesus!," I heard a young man say when Annemarie offered him a choice of medals. Music to my ears!
Prayer requests I have written down are:
Pat - missed Mass Sunday and feels bad, also wants prayer for her mother, Martha, who is sick
Paul - healing of his fractured right hip and leg
An elderly couple is back from Phoenix and looking for a house to buy.
One young mom just said to pray for “everything” in her life.
Thanks so much Rachel for leading! What a wonderful experience. I couldn’t believe how simple it really was and how open and friendly the fest-goers were. I am still kind of in awe of everything. In addition to just asking if they’d like a free rosary or holy card, for those that stopped I often asked if they had any faith tradition just to get the discussion started. Almost everyone shared some kind of honest answer. Some said they have been away from Church for a while. Some said they were Catholics and went to one of the Catholic Churches in Downer’s Grove. A few said they were other denominations. One person said they weren’t even Christian but she wanted a rosary for her friend because she knew they were.
One young man came right up to me and just wanted to talk. He said he was new to the US from South Africa (only 3 months here) and is working with the carnival crew. He asked if he could ask me a few questions…one of which was how could he “grow” in his faith. I mentioned that he could read his bible every day. I asked what denomination he was and he didn’t answer directly but when I asked him about going to communion…he said it was only twice a month. I shared with him that as Catholics we can celebrate the Eucharist every day if we wanted and that for me that helped me to grow in my faith. I challenged him to ask around with the other workers who are traveling together this summer with the circus to see if there were any other Christians and that maybe they could start to pray together.
One young couple came up with their little one and had mentioned that they had just celebrated his first communion…I congratulated them and told them what a special day that is. We talked about faith for a bit and the mom mentioned how she wants the “original Catholicism” not all the “new stuff”. Soon after that the aunt, uncle, and cousin showed up. I spoke with them for a bit too and asked if they had a church they attended. I tried to encourage them that they are always welcome to come back.
Quite a few folks mentioned they have been away from church for a while. I tried to relate it to working out, that once you get into the habit, it becomes easier. Everyone seemed to be receptive.
One couple was visiting from Philadelphia. They are active Catholics. They had a newborn baby and a toddler with them and I told them how beautiful it is to see young families so happy together. I had shared how I got to see Pope Francis is Philadelphia and how special that was for me. In reflecting, just sharing faith was feeding my own soul in the process.
One of the last encounters I remember was the last rain gust we had. Another young couple with little ones took shelter under our tent. I had joked that now they “had to talk with the religious people”! I engaged the father in conversation. He said he coaches and teaches at a local Catholic High School. As we continued to discuss, we found out that we went to the same college and actually both played baseball there. It was kind of fitting ending to the day. Our head baseball coach had just passed away and his funeral was celebrated just two days earlier. It gave me so much hope to meet another young family living the faith…and this one I had a personal connection with!
Please pray for all those we encountered during this outing and that our evangelists may continue to be brave and courageous witnesses to our Lord Jesus and His Catholic Church!
Report From Cream of Wheaton 2023
June 15, 2023
Once again, we find ourselves back where everything started for our Joliet Team back in 2018: The Cream of Wheaton Festival! We had another great weekend, thanks to the generosity of our members, and especially our Station Leader Bill who helped secure such a great location for us earlier this month of June! Below are the testimonies of our Station Leader Angela, as well as myself. Please see both below:
Evangelizing at the Christmas Pageant
December 12, 2022
There's never a time that evangelization stops, and that holds true as we get into these frigid months of winter. What was notable about this last outing was where it took place, and certainly was the most unique outing we have ever had! Angela, one of our Station leaders, spoke with the principal of her sons' Catholic grade school, Noonan Academy. In speaking with the principal, we were able to get a table in the back of the gym during the school's Christmas pageant this past Saturday, and it was a wonderful experience! We met many faithful Catholics who needed to be built up, as well as those that have been away from the sacraments for some time, and those that aren't yet in union with the one Church or Lord Jesus founded. Below are three testimonies from myself and our other two station leaders at the event:
"We tried out a new venue for evangelization this past weekend: the back of the gym during the Christmas performance at our local Catholic elementary school. It was a great success! We encountered lots of eager children wanting to show off their new medals and scapulars. Additionally, we had several good conversations with people who needed some encouragement in their faith journeys. One woman is going through RCIA now to receive her confirmation! After taking every pamphlet we had available, we offered her a copy of Trent Horn's book "Why We're Catholic", which she happily accepted. We also gave away around 8 other copies of that book in this outing!" -Angela
"As Angela mentioned, we had many people wanting to take advantage of the literature and sacramentals being give away. All of the "Why We're Catholic" books seen in the picture above were given away. We also gave out several "Youcats" [youth editions of the Catechism] to some of the older children that were present. Many of the children wanted miraculous medals, and medals of their other favorite saints. Especially popular were the "$1 billion" bills with Pope Francis on them, as well as various holy cards! One boy especially wanted a Divine Mercy holy card for his grandmother.
"I was able to pray with a few of the children coming up to the table, and they were very selfless in asking for prayers for sick relatives and loved ones. Another woman came up who said she belongs to a parish in the Chicago archdiocese. She was surprised to see us out evangelizing, and said more Catholic Christians need to do this. She took several pamphlets, and asked whose image was on the "Faith Alone?" pamphlet. I told her that was Martin Luther, who had erroneously taught that one was saved by "faith alone". I told her that specific piece of literature helps us to speak more intelligently to our separated brethren, and encourages us to defend our Catholic faith. She was very appreciative of that, and took one of those pamphlets. Another man took virtually everything we had, from "The Problem of Suffering", to "The Bible Alone?", to "True Worship and the Eucharist" as he said he had a "three hour car drive and needed things to read". Praise God we were able to help so many! What was truly unique about this event is that we had an opportunity to reach the "low hanging fruit" of those that may already be in our pews, or have a closer connection to the Church than those we may encounter on the street at one of our regular events. These brothers and sisters of ours must be built up as well so they can be effective evangelizers in their words and actions. Iron sharpens iron! " -Nick
"I had a conversation with a women who said that we need more people to start praying and talking about God. She said God doesn’t care about how nice your clothes are, or how many guns you have, God will be the ultimate judge and we need to start preparing ourselves now. She said that it was very refreshing to see people who were excited about the faith and were happy to share it with others.
"Another woman approached me and asked me if this was a Catholic organization. I said, "Yes, it is". She was very happy to see that Catholics were evangelizing because she’s never seen a Catholic group going out and spreading the Gospel. She said the issue is that family’s don’t talk about God, so when kids grow up they don’t know anything about the true faith. So it’s easy for young people to be influenced by Jehovah's Witnesses and Protestants because you usually see them evangelizing in public. She said we need more Catholic Christians who are on fire for God and have a desire to evangelize because we are losing to other 'Christian groups.'" -Anthony
Please pray for all those they encountered and their prayer intentions! It is our hope we can do more events similar to this in the upcoming year. This is what the "new evangelization" is truly all about!
Report From Taste of Bolingbrook 2022
September 17, 2022
The following report comes from our Station leader, Nina, at our outing in Bolingbrook last month:
Despite many of our volunteers not being able to come unexpectedly, the Lord provided an exceptional volunteer staff at the Taste of Bolingbrook this past Saturday. One really important encounter we had was with a lady who said her and her daughter's small business was going under a lot of stress and strife. She was confident the enemy was at work, and she approached our table knowing that our prayer for this particular intention would mean something. She said, "where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them" (Mt 18). We invited the Holy Spirit in and prayed to drive out any forces that would prevent the success of the business; we also prayed that this business would also be a source of spreading the gospel.
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.
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 Formed.org, 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!
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.
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!
More Stories From the Street at Taste of Wheaton
June 13, 2022
Below are a couple stories from me, and one of our other station leaders, Angela, after our awesome outing a couple weekends ago. Please pray for all those we encountered!
Angela's Story: I was with Julian and Russell, who were both joining us for the very first time. The most memorable part of our shift was when a group of Christians approached our booth. After a slow hour, the three of us were each suddenly involved in deep discussion with various members of the Christian group. My conversation focused on Marian doctrines, the papacy, and sola scriptura. Though I felt like I was in over my head and definitely stumbled a few times, I said a silent prayer and thought I was able to make a few good points. I know I cleared up one misconception that a young woman had about Catholics ("Yes, I can - and do - mostly pray directly to Jesus. I'm not required to pray through Mary."). At the end of the conversation, one of the men even accepted a book that explains Catholic doctrines.
Nick's Story: I was there on Saturday, and as always, I feel a little bit nervous before each outing. But I have to remind myself that the Holy Spirit is activating the graces I've received in Confirmation, and once the talking with others begins, it all comes together and I feel better. My first encounter was with an older man and woman who say they have no church community, and just rely on the Bible and don't like "traditions". I reminded the gentleman, after his wife said following the Word is paramount, that indeed we must follow the Word since the Word is a Person, but that St. Paul also said we must hold fast to the traditions handed down (2 Thess. 2:15). He didn't like that, and tried to twist St. Paul's words to say something they don't. I offered to pray with him, but he kindly refused. Please pray for his conversion, an his wife's as well.
We also had some very positive experiences with lapsed Catholics coming up and taking materials like Trent Horn's "Why We're Catholic". There were some questioning teens, already baptized Catholic, which took the "YouCat" endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. One woman ("Joan") we prayed with admitted that she is Catholic but hasn't been to church in a long time. After speaking for several minutes and praying together I asked Joan what is holding her back from going to Mass. She answered very honestly, and said she knows that it sounds silly, but being single and never married, she admitted to feeling lonely especially when seeing so many families at church. Our other station leader, Angelica, told Joan that she is always welcome and we both let her know we can find her a community where she can fill that hole of loneliness, but to also look to the Eucharist. She gave us her email, and since then, we have gotten her in touch with a large parish in the diocese that is working to get her support! Please keep praying for her!
In another encounter, we spoke with an older woman who was apparently baptized Catholic, but now goes to a non-denominational church, although she still clings to her Catholic grandmother's rosary. I asked her if she knew how to pray it, but she says she just holds it and is comforted. We talked about how to pray the Rosary, and then prayed together. I asked her if she has considered returning to her grandmother's Catholic Church. She said she appreciates the traditions, but basically said that's not how she worshipped. She wisely noted that Christians must be all one as Jesus prayed to the Father in John's Gospel. I talked to her more about this, and asked her if she believe the multiplicity of denominations ere a scandal to non-Christians. She seemed to agree, but kept changing the subject when talking about the one, true Church our Lord founded, and eventually we parted amicably. Please pray for her return to the Catholic Church since she firmly believes that all Christians must be one.
There were quite a few children who came up to receive rosaries and sacramentals, under the watchful eyes of their parents, and one young girl admitted she didn't know how to pray the Rosary. I gave her her favorite color Rosary and the pamphlet on how to pray the Rosary. When I told her it was a walk through Jesus' life, she beamed, and said "that's so cool!" multiple times! Pray that she may stay close to our Lady and her Divine Son! One final encounter took place just after I left. Our station leader, Bill, was tearing down the booth, and a distraught woman came to our booth crying asking for prayer because she said she didn't want to live anymore. Bill and Russell consoled her, prayed with her, and stayed in touch through the following day. Bill had given her a Miraculous Medal, and she said that it had given her such spiritual strength and comfort through the night. Se wanted to "thank our group for what we do and continue to be there for others when its sorely needed."
We often don't learn the results of our evangelization efforts immediately, but this time we did! Please pray for all those we encountered, especially for the conversion of those separated from our Lord presently, and for an increase of grace in all!
First Time Evangelist's Report from Taste of Wheaton 2022
June 13, 2022
We had an awesome time at Taste of Wheaton during the weekend of June 3-5! Many first time evangelists went out, and this report is from one of our newest recruits, Trinity. Check out her story below, and I hope it inspires you to come out and join us if you have yet to be out on the streets with us!
Wow!!!!! I cannot say enough about my first St. Paul Street Evangelization event at the Cream of Wheaton Festival in Wheaton, IL! It was definitely one of the most moving experiences I have had because I was able to witness the Holy Ghost work in ways I thought would never happen to me as a little 21-year-old from the Chicago suburbs.
For example, I had only been able to view a few of the training videos beforehand, I did not plan what I would say, and though I have heavily studied my faith I do not consider myself an expert at engaging in apologetics discussions. However, sometimes all God needs to work wonders is for us to make a small action of trust in Him. My friends and I made little acts of faith by deciding to come to the event in spite of our shortcomings, believing that God would take over and compensate for them. This allowed the Holy Ghost the room to work through us by giving us the perfect words to make thoughtful and strong arguments for Catholicism.
Most of all, this allowed Him to even more deeply instill in us what is especially vital for effective evangelization: a particular authentic love for those who came to us, which enabled us to show them that we genuinely cared and wanted the best for them. This helped them be more engaged in the conversation, gave them an open heart to what we were saying, and made them feel comfortable opening up more to us than they would with most in general society.
This love also led us to listen extra intently to them and take special interest in learning from their wisdom, talents, and life stories. It is especially vital that all Catholics do this when evangelizing, and do not carry the prideful attitude that because we may be significantly stronger in our faith we are the only ones that have anything of value to say.
Yes, if they are not practicing Catholics some of their religious insights will probably be off, and no matter how difficult it may be we have a duty to tell them the full truth and that being a faithful Catholic is necessary for salvation. However, they could mention something valuable on aspects of the Catholic faith we do agree upon and may have wisdom to impart on
non-religious matters such as business or hobbies outside of work.
The aforementioned bad disposition on our part will lead us to have the mindset of merely trying to win an argument and being able to record another statistic to our number of converts instead of trying to allow a precious, unrepeatable human being a chance to experience the beautiful fruits that come from living a solid Catholic life and attaining Heaven. People will
sense that they are being engaged in conversation not out of love for them and their good but instead for yours, and will be deterred from wanting to be around practicing Catholics for a long time.
I am so blessed to have been able to learned so much from those I interacted with that night! For example, one man whom I’ll call Don spoke about how he gave unplanned eulogies for his father and his wife’s mom’s funerals that profoundly moved the crowd, which furthered my understanding of the fact that the Holy Ghost is the one who inspires us with all the insightful comments we give.
I even picked up tips on smaller matters, such as learning about new forms of exercise from a girl I’ll call Danielle from the booth for a gym across from us, as well as Don sharing fascinating stories about St. Teresa of Calcutta and an amazing musician. As a musician myself, I looked up more information on him later and was completely blown away by his almost superhuman talent!
I also saw that people are more open to the Catholic faith than we might guess. To my astonishment, everyone that walked by our table was kind whether they stopped there or not. Two devout Protestant women I spoke to on separate occasions made it clear they did not have issues with the Catholic faith, and one of them was extremely touched by the fact that one of the people at my booth offered to pray with her because she really needed this very moving experience with what she was going through.
These same women were also receptive to hearing how the Church views The Blessed Mother and did not seem to be aware of the many stumbling blocks Protestants have with this --especially because they were very eager to take the miraculous medal. I made an extra effort to share with them as well as some other people the proper understanding of this teaching before anyone else could transmit misinformation to them on this topic.
I explained that we as Christians ask each other for prayers, but imagine how much more powerful this is when we petition someone who is in Heaven before God’s throne -- especially when it is His own Mother! I also warned that some people accuse Catholics of worshiping Mary, but we do not do that because the Bible maintains that we only can worship God and instead we are merely imploring her to pray for us.
The following example of a man probably in his mid-20’s whom I’ll call Max proves that people can especially be open to Catholicism when times are tough. When he and his friends were selecting their miraculous medals, he instantly requested a St. Anthony one because this great Saint had quickly found a lost item for him a few days prior. I explained that St. Anthony has aided me a ton: so much so one time that he recovered my favorite pair of boots even though
it was a big project to find them and they had to cross four state lines to get back to me! Max and his friends were in awe at this and we all had a great time laughing over this story as I shared it!
It is ironic that Max sought St. Anthony’s intercession because when I asked if he was of any faith he explained that he was not any religion even though he was born Presbyterian. It goes to show God has a sense of humor in bringing people to Him and I do not think it is coincidental that He had this transpire just a few days before he came to our table. Perhaps He wanted his mind to already be on Catholicism when he approached us so our faith popping up in his life so frequently all the sudden would make him wonder if the Lord is trying to grab his attention.
Max then revealed that he was currently very lost and trying to figure out his life. I expressed how sorry I was to hear this and that I have experienced that at our age topics like dating and jobs can be confusing. He indicated those issues were part of the problem, and he felt an even stronger connection with me since I demonstrated that I could at least somewhat relate to what he was going through.
Since all people -- especially ones who are young and in this vulnerable situation -- more than anything yearn to be truly happy, I made a point to present how practicing Catholicism is the only way to get this result. I began by saying “we all want to be happy all the time, right?”
After he said “yes,” I explained how I tried to find happiness in various earthly goods that I listed, but that I learned the hard way that only God can provide this authentic consistent happiness for which we all long. I emphasized that since I began to find my joy in God, I have been able to always feel an internal peace even when everything appeared to be exploding externally, and he seemed amazed to hear that true happiness was possible.
I could sense the Holy Ghost especially opening his heart to the faith, so I knew I had to do what I could to ensure he would pursue it further. I realized that if I just left him with my few words, the momentum of the conversation and with it the excitement about the faith fostered in him during it would dwindle.
I understood that the best way to do this was to give him a physical token that would not only remind him of the discussion but would include more information on Catholicism that would encourage him to continue looking into it. Knowing this and that two key ingredients people need to become solid Catholics is to understand our doctrine and have reverent liturgies, I wrote down for him a few of the most reverent parishes in the area (including my own) and I also added a few good Catholic YouTube channels he could look up.
When I mentioned that one of the Churches I wrote down was particularly gorgeous, he exclaimed that he loved beautiful Churches. This is yet another example of how even with young people who are so immersed in the world that they drift far from the faith and with it are stereotypically not very sentimental (especially regarding religion), not all are that way and there is still a soft side in everyone which allows God the ability to plant these types of seeds in them. The conversation had even convinced him enough that the faith was the answer to his problems that he exclaimed at the end, “I had better give religion a shot!”
Max’s openness to having the faith give him the direction he so urgently needed demonstrates that more young people are open to having God fulfill this role than we would guess. These actions of his show that he is at the point where he realizes he is having trouble navigating life on his own, which is perfect ground for him to start relying on the Lord. This makes it much easier for Him to come in than with most people his age because they desperately strive to convince themselves and others they have it all together just on their own.
The love God had given my friends and I for the people who came to us also enabled us to have a special sympathy for what they were going through to where we would try our best to relate to it and help them through it. For example, Danielle from the fitness station later revealed to me individually that her mother passed away when she was younger. I shared my utmost sympathies with her and expressed how hard that must have been, and she shared she had reached the point of accepting it.
I also explained how suffering helps us grow stronger in virtue and that it only happens for that greater good, and then I prayed with her about her Mom’s passing. To my fellow young adults, I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is to reach out to hurting people our age about what is troubling them even though it can be extremely intimidating due to having to breach uncomfortable subjects, us not knowing how emotionally they will react, or if they want to discuss it.
I have seen from my experience doing this that the brief discomfort it brings is beyond worth it because it makes an impact like nothing else can. A peer having enough concern and courage to directly address and help them through their situation when most their age do not means more than words can express and can sometimes be lifechanging or even lifesaving.
Since bringing the issue up often encourages them to talk about it, they realize that if they have the boldness to discuss it they possess the bravery to begin addressing it head-on: for that person burying their struggles in an unhealthy way, your conversation could be the thing that leads them to take this first step of healing that may have not otherwise happened for a while or at all.
There is also sometimes where people are not yet comfortable discussing what they are going through, but perhaps the topic being brought up will encourage them to seek more healing from it later on. I especially hope this is what happened with one lady we spoke to, whom I’ll call Diane. She asked us if we knew of any groups for women in the area, but she was looking for one that was non-denominational and not Catholic because she was very pro-choice due to events that occurred in her life.
We expressed to her how very sorry we were to hear about these experiences and my friend thanked her for being honest that this was what was keeping her away from the Church. I so wish we could have been able to make it more likely that her journey toward recovery would begin by helping her process these events by further discussing them, as well as sharing why accepting the Church’s position on abortion is actually the most therapeutic thing to do if one has a bad past with it, but it was clear she quickly wanted to move to another subject.
However, we were able to gain a lot of ground with many people by explaining how we could relate to the bad experiences they had with the Church. This was because it showed we understood where they were coming from as well as just because we are faithful Catholics does not mean we are going to defend everything members of our faith do simply because they are Catholic.
The first case of this was when Diane shared with us that one stumbling block for her was that a relative of hers had been treated horribly by the Church, to which we said how sorry we were. She especially felt that we got her perspective when I mentioned that my grandmother was bullied by some Catholics and that this definitely scared her away from the Church.
Another instance of this was when I would share why I was Catholic, I would explain that even though the Church currently has lots of bad people in it and scandals with which I am absolutely disgusted, I stay because it is the beautiful Church that Christ founded 2,000 years ago. I brought this up knowing that many cannot fathom how they can be part of a Church let alone raise their kids in one whose face they currently see as the heinous abusive priests that have been prevalent in recent decades.
After I told him the aforementioned statements, one man whose family had been quite involved in the Church when he was growing up mentioned all this to me as he left the table. The corrupt actions of some of the clergy are pure evil not only due to their gross immorality but also because they scandalize people to the point of convincing them that apostatizing from the Church is their only option: I only fully comprehended how completely wicked this is when I witnessed this situation for the first time right before my eyes from a real person with a face, voice, and story during this event.
An approach that I used quite a bit that worked shockingly well was how irreverent Masses impacted my faith journey. Since everyone can relate to it, are especially fed up with it, and it is something drawing many away from the Church, they immediately connected with me on a deeper level upon hearing this aspect of my testimony. This is because it shows that just because I am devoted to the faith does not mean I am blind to the repulsive abuses in many liturgies but instead I am trying to solve this serious problem.
I would say: “Let's face it, most Masses out there today are very boring for many, irreverent, and severely lacking in masculinity. This caused me to not be too into my faith for a lot of my childhood because I subconsciously figured if Catholic leaders were not taking it seriously that must mean it is not that important. Then, as a young teenager, I began to research the faith and discovered how rich and beautiful it is -- especially that it is the Church Jesus Christ founded and He is really present at Mass -- and I became on fire for my faith. Eventually, I started attending very reverent Masses and saw that what I was studying was being reflected on the altar, so that caused the faith to even more fully connect for me.”
I made an special effort to share this with a Catholic school father who was extremely masculine. This is because I realized men like that are exceptionally disgusted with these liturgies and would thus especially identify with what I was saying, and that very much applied in this case. I brought this up knowing that it is key if we sense a person is so strong in a trait (such as masculinity) that they have a particular need to have the faith match up with that, we have to make one of our main priorities presenting to them how this is the case.
He and his wife were interested enough in learning more about what I had to say in this regard and that there was a way to practice the Catholic faith that would be much more suited to their personalities. This reached the point where I was even able to clarify that the very reverent Mass I go to was the Traditional Latin Mass -- the Mass done for the great majority of the Church’s history. Though I did not bring the Latin Mass up with almost everyone else I talked to and did not go into the differences between this and the New Mass because this is not a discussion suited for a street evangelization setting, I did note that it has a special beauty and reverence that has majorly advanced my spiritual life.
They were fascinated to hear this and eagerly took me up on my offer to write down the names of some Latin Masses in the area. Thus, the notecard had the same Mass information and YouTube channels that I gave to Max, and the father exclaimed after I gave this to him, “We definitely have to check this out!”
A related tactic that was also very effective was mentioning to some people how present issues in the Church such as irreverent liturgies and a huge lack of Catholics evangelizing were not a big problem until extremely recently in Church history. This allowed people to take the
Church more seriously knowing that her human element has not always been this way and has conducted itself in much more respectable fashion for most of time.
Part of this was noting that Catholics were extremely effective at sharing the Gospel up until this time, converting large portions of the world for thousands of years. I brought this up because a lot of people think the Church is lousy because we are currently so poor at attempting to draw people in, and this approach especially worked with one Protestant woman I spoke to because she was heavily into this method of sharing the Gospel.
On another note, there was one man probably in his late 50's who was raised Catholic but said even though this is bad, he connects with the Lord most in nature so he does not go to Mass. Even though I love being in God’s creation, as a Catholic and political conservative I view the idea of placing one’s main priority on nature as trivial and difficult to identify with. However, I knew out of true love for people we are called to meet them where they are at by trying our best to relate to their perspective in spite of this.
Thus, I emphasized that I love to connect with God in nature, so much so that this is a reason why I have planned trips to Colorado the last couple years. However, I said that His creation can only be a stepping stone to where we will truly connect with Him the most -- in a very reverent liturgy where He is truly present. I explained that we cannot get more of a close connection with God than being by the Eucharist, so therefore it is important to go to Mass.
I also saw how a misunderstanding of the definition of love is at the heart of so many people’s doubts concerning Catholicism. When I asked Don and his wife if they had any questions or doubts about the Catholic faith, he first mentioned he thought the Church should be open to women priests. Like so many, he believed the loving thing to do was to give women the opportunity to be in any position that exists, instead of understanding that love is to give a woman only the positions that are best for her, which are those that fit the role God gave her.
I kindly explained this concept by mentioning that the Church has always taught that men and women have equally beautiful gifts but they're just different: these strengths not being the same does not mean they are bad and the Church has always greatly praised and respected the woman's role. I noted since the priest is in the person of Christ he should be a man so it would be weird for a woman to take that role and it would actually be us hurting her if we let her do that because it’s forcing her into a role unnatural for her. He said, “it's like the man takes on the role of Christ and the woman takes on the role of the Virgin Mary!”
After I exclaimed “bingo, you've got it” and high-fived him, he then expressed his concern over the Church’s position on LGBTQ+ issues, mentioning his daughter is a lesbian. He elaborated upon how at their Church the pastor had a service for LGBTQ+ people to just
welcome and love them, and he wondered why Jesus would not do that when he sat with all kinds of sinners. I explained that Jesus loved homosexuals too and the Church loves them so much, longs to welcome them there, and has always called everyone to treat them with the utmost respect.
However, I explained that the definition of love is to desire the greatest good for the other, which is Heaven. I noted this means sometimes the only way to get them there is to be very direct in informing them that their behavior will lead them to Hell if they do not repent. I said if we do not do this we would actually be hating them, and I also noted that the Bible mentions what Jesus taught cannot change, so His teaching on this in Scripture has always remained constant. I could clearly tell all this had their wheels spinning that their position might be flawed and they conceded that my point was good.
Looking back on this experience, I continue to be amazed at how the Holy Ghost worked here and gave me the words to say in situations where I believed there was little hope for me to come up with anything meaningful to share. I knew on a head level this was possible, but being able to see, feel, and experience it for myself at this event is what finally enabled me to understand this on a heart level after a years-long struggle to even begin grasping this concept.
This has given me confidence and motivation to share the faith with a greater zeal and frequency than before knowing that the Holy Ghost will provide me with what to speak. I hope each of these experiences will increase my faith in Him to do this, especially as the more trust we have in Him to move through us the more wonders He will be able to work.
It is fitting that this significantly deeper understanding I gained of how much the Holy Ghost can work happened two days before Pentecost, when He descended upon Jesus’ disciples and through them enacted many wonders they could not have said or done otherwise. I believe it is not a coincidence but intended by God that this awakening occurred right before this holy feast day, so I could more fully connect the dots that the Holy Ghost was trying to teach me how to more strongly rely on Him.
I pray that all of us will have a renewal of trust in and love for the Holy Ghost, and may this below Pentecost sequence from the Traditional Latin Mass (that also happens to perfectly sum up my first experience with SPSE) ignite in us a fire for Him that will empower us to strive to save as many souls as possible and ensure Christ is King in the hearts and minds of the whole world once more:
Holy Spirit! Lord of light! From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure, beaming radiance give:
Come, Thou, Father of the poor! Come, with treasures which endure! Come, Thou light of all that live!
Thou of all consolers best, Visiting the troubled breast, Dost refreshing peace bestow: Thou in toil art comfort sweet; Pleasant coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal! Light divine! Visit Thou these hearts of Thine, And our inmost being fill.
If Thou take Thy grace away, Nothing pure in man will stay; All his good is turn’d to ill.
Heal our wounds - our strength renew; On our dryness pour Thy dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess and Thee adore, In Thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give them comfort when they die; Give them life with Thee on high; Give them joys which never end. Amen. Alleluia. 
 Divinum Officium. Sancta Missa. 5 June 2022. https://divinumofficium.com/cgi-bin/missa/missa.pl
Report from Outing in Downtown Plainfield
November 6, 2021
The last year has gone by so quickly, and I suppose we'll find ourselves in the thick of preparing for Christmas shortly! Still, even with colder weather here, our Joliet Team has still been going out to spread the Good News of our Lord Jesus so as to bring as many souls as possible into His Catholic Church. While we often do larger scale events, we also are able to get out there just on a street corner to interact with the passerby. We did so the day before Halloween... or I guess one could say the eve of All Hallow's Eve! We had a group of 5 go out on the streets for a few hours. One of our station leader, Rachel, gives a brief overview of the outing:
"As we’ve done before, we split up with some staying with the table and others (2-3) walking around. So I didn’t see every interaction. Anthony Noska is totally fearless about engaging people, asking their names and prayer requests. He collected a bunch in his phone.
"It was a good day because some people were out wearing costumes and looking for candy to pick up (I had gotten some, but was happy Angela had it covered!). We talked to a man who was Lutheran but very friendly. I gave him one of the Petrine Primacy pamphlets. Another friendly man was a Jehovah’s Witness and gave us his phone number. I gave him a couple pamphlets and he said many of his family members are Catholic, but he accepted them. Another man went to a nondenominational church didn’t accept the pamphlets, but he let us pray for him as he was going through a divorce. It sounded like his wife had initiated it and he wasn’t happy about it, so I prayed aloud for God to bring healing and reconciliation to their marriage if it was his will. A little girl was excited about the candy but also accepted a pink rosary. I asked her dad if they went to church anywhere, and he said they weren’t Christian but went to church sometimes, so I gave him a “Good News” pamphlet. Of course, we had lots of people who weren’t interested in anything, as well as Catholics who said they had lots of rosaries at home. Not many Spanish-speakers this time like in Naperville. I stayed with the table the whole time and did some praying, picking up trash in the area, and I got the pamphlets mostly organized when we packed up."
"This past Saturday, October 30th, our Evangelizing team went out to downtown Plainfield. The Lord provided us with some comfortable, sunny weather to share the Good News. Because we had six people, we made sure that we had people talking to others as they walked by, and we made sure to have two people in prayer (Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet). We also had people walking around, handing out rosaries and asking for prayer intentions. Having this dichotomy of prayer and evangelizing made the day extremely fruitful. Throughout the afternoon, we encountered people who identified with many different faiths including Catholic, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jewish. Many people who identified as Catholic said they had plenty of rosaries at home (praise God!), and other Christians were willing to pray with us and talk about their faith with us.
"Anthony C. and I approached a younger guy walking into work, and he admitted to us that he was coming back from a funeral of one of his friends who had committed suicide. We offered him a rosary, promised to keep him in our prayers, and we walked away stunned at God’s timing of that interaction. Anthony and I also saw some movers close to the downtown area. I was hesitant in approaching them as they were on the job, but Anthony boldly asked them if they needed help and if they wanted a rosary. One of the movers lit up when we asked; he said he grew up catholic and that his mom prays the rosary frequently. He admitted how much he needed prayer and how he needed to go back to church, especially with so many deaths this past year. I was so grateful Anthony felt moved by the Spirit to talk with him, and it reminded me to never write anyone off, no matter how disinterested or busy they may look. On a high note, towards the end of the afternoon, Anthony N. and I approached a couple who had baptized their baby a few hours ago and were celebrating in the area. We prayed with them and thanked God they recognized the importance of baptism. The encounters we had on Saturday were so powerful. After seeing the beauty of the labor, Rachel Cecilia reminded us how important it is to get out there, evangelize, and do what we are meant to do."
We also had prayer warriors praying for those out there evangelizing, as schedules don't always permit for everyone to go out. Our team was also then sent the prayer requests we received during our time out there. If you would like to join us, please drop me a line and we'll be glad to get you on our mailing list and alert you when other outings might be... or even schedule some as long as we have two or more gathered in our Lord's Name! Please pray for all those we reached and for their intentions as well, in the hopes that those outside the Church may come into her loving embrace!
Report From Beecher Freedom Fest
September 10, 2021
Although our location didn't have the best foot traffic, we were conveniently located next to the taco booth, which is how we met "Joe". Joe kept glancing our way while he waited for his tacos, giving me the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation. Joe revealed that although he had fallen away from the Catholic Church many years before (he believed he could pray on his own without the company of other people), he believed in Jesus and read the bible. When I asked him if he followed what Jesus said in the bible, he enthusiastically agreed. I then responded that in the bible, Jesus said we should build a church. Joe became silent, clearly deep in thought. My fellow evangelist, Bill, asked Joe for a favor. Bill requested that Joe go home and pray that God would lead him in the right direction, whatever that may be, in terms of membership in the Church. Joe said he would. Joe then accepted the SPSE pamphlet "Reasons to Return to the Catholic Church", and left to pick up his tacos.
We've been fortunate with our vendor booths to have some interesting conversations with our neighbor vendors, and this afternoon was no exception. Nick learned that taco salesman "Manny" was in formation for the diaconate! On the other side of us, after chit chatting all day, cigar box saleswoman "Rita" accepted Angelica's invitation to pray together and took a Miraculous Medal.
Please join our team in prayer for the souls we encountered that afternoon!
It took a little while for people to warm up to us, but as the day progressed we had several people coming to our booth and taking sacramentals and rosaries. The young man sitting seen in the picture sitting behind our booth, John, came out with us for the first time to evangelize, and he said he loved it! He was very comfortable talking with others, and it seems his reading of Bishop Barron, Scott Hahn and the like really helped him and he is excited to come out again!One woman came up with her husband and said she needed another rosary, and asked her if we knew how to pray it. She said she has a hard time remembering how, so we gave her one of the "How to Pray a Rosary" pamphlets and explained it to her as a walk through Scripture.
Another woman came up and asked for prayers for her daughter in law and son. She really liked seeing the St. Michael medal and took one, saying she prayed to him a lot. Asked where she went to church and she said she was Lutheran, but liked the beauty of the Catholic Church. We prayed together, but didn;t have a chance to invite her to come deeper as she soon parted. Please pray for her intentions and for her conversion to the Catholic faith, and likewise for all those non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians alike we encountered and prayed with today!
New Evangelist's Report from Taste of Bolingbrook
August 10, 2021
Another report from one of our newest evangelists, Nina, can be found below. This was her first time joining us on an official evangelization event, and I hope her testimony gives anyone reading this the courage to come out for their first event as well. This is what we've been called to do as baptized Catholic Christians. The Church exists to evangelize, so let's get to it! Thank you again to Nina and all our volunteers who made this event possible!
My experience w/ SPSE 8/7/21This was my first time out evangelizing in the street after several years of God putting something like this on my heart. I took the final shift (5-8pm). When I first got there I was eager but also slightly intimidated. I first observed Veronica attempting to bring others to our table and then I had the courage to start inviting people to take rosaries. I prayed with several people who needed prayers regarding family difficulties and mental health challenges. That part I would say was the easiest for me and I really felt the Holy Spirit give me the words.The entire time I was out there - I truly felt I was living out my complete purpose on earth - to spread the gospel. Being in sales, I don't have that hard of a time facing rejection like this - which is such a gift from the Lord. I loved evangelizing with my best friends and I felt so comfortable with it. We had some good conversations with some Protestants who belong to Victory Church. I would really like to improve in this area, as I have a hard time incorporating the Eucharist in our conversations. I felt it was so beautiful seeing genuine curiosity with everything at our table - something that I lack in at times. It really set me on fire for the Great Commission. Afterwards, I was reflecting on how we have the freedom to do this stuff and how 95% of the people we saw/spoke to were pleasant. I was talking with Anthony about how easy evangelizing to these people can be at times because of how pleasant they are.But even though people are "nice", "pleasant", "good people", they could often be spiritually dead and that's the biggest problem we face in America: people who grew up in the faith, know about it, and still choose to live in sin. It really makes you appreciate the patience and grace of God. Overall, I had an incredibly joyful experience and I can't wait to go out there again.
First Large Scale Event of 2021 - Taste of Bolingbrook Report
August 10, 2021
It's been a long time coming, but the Joliet Team has finally made it back to a large event! Sure, we've done a few smaller-scale outings during pandemic time, but our team enjoys being out and about to reach as many souls for Christ as possible!
Below is my report as Team Leader. We met a lot of people, prayed for and with many others, and were able to have some great conversations. We are hopeful that we were able to lead people closer to the one Church founded by our Lord Jesus and to Him in the sacraments! A few more pictures from the event can be found as well:
The day started fairly quiet as we got our both set up at 10 AM. We weren't expecting many more people at the Taste of Bolingbrook until lunch time, and we would be there until 8 PM. The first person to come up arrived with his young daughter. Jim [all names are changed] saw our prayer station sign and said he could always use some prayer. His daughter wanted one of the rosaries and we gave her the how to pray the rosary pamphlet, asking her to have her father pray it with her. He said that he had felt like the "lost sheep" for the longest time, but that our Lord had found him again just six weeks ago. He said he used to be Catholic and went to a nearby parish, but he said he never "felt" anything. We encouraged him to return to the Church, but he didn't want to take any other sacramentals or further conversation and he parted amicably.
Most of my experience throughout the early part of the day was praying with others, not so much discussion. Diane came up to us, a Lutheran, and said she was in need of prayer as two of her adult children have disowned her and will no longer talk to her. She broke down into tears, but was very comforted by our prayers and thanked us profusely, her and her friend taking rosaries. Another woman, Maryella, came up to our table looking at our rosaries and other items. She seemed reticent to engage us in conversation, but once we engaged her she stayed to talk with us for quite a while as it was clear she needed prayers. She was Greek Orthodox and told us that she paints icons. She finally asked us for prayers for her daughter, Victoria. Maryella broke down, sobbing, as we prayed. Her daughter is currently studying abroad in England, and she is very sick after taking her first COVID vaccine, with an adverse reaction causing her arm to swell up and she is now in the hospital. Maryella was very scared for her because she has no way to reach her daughter, but she was comforted as we prayed together and asked for the protection and intercession of the most pure Virgin Theotokos, Mother of our God. She also took a St. Michael medal and prayer card and was very thankful for our prayers.
We handed out many, may rosaries and miraculous medals to others, and also handed out quite a few books and pamphlets. One young man even took home a copy of Dr. Edward Feser's "Five Proofs of the Existence of God" which we were giving away!Later, when I returned for my evening shift, a young woman, Amy, came up to our table and eventually engaged us in conversation. She asked for prayers for her mental state, and for peace. After prayer, she said she belonged at one time to a Baptist church, but she hasn't really gone to church on a regular basis, noting to us that this is something she should be better about. We talked about the necessity of coming together as a community, as Christians, and I asked her if she was baptized. She said that she was, and I gave her a prayer card invoking the Holy Spirit, so that she could become closer to Him and have those graces within her activated. We then kept talking about the necessity of gathering together at church, and I told her that the most important reason we must gather together is so that we receive the Eucharist. She said she had never hear that word before, and I explained to her that in the Catholic Church established by Christ Jesus, we receive Him in Communion. She remembered Communion from her days at a Catholic high school where she had attended Mass periodically. I explained to her why we as Christians must be joined to our Lord in the Eucharist, and I encouraged her to take the pamphlet on "True Worship - The Eucharist" which she gladly accepted before parting.Our last encounter at the end of the night was with a young man named Jamir. He wore a shirt that had a crown and a cross. He looked at us and said, "Hey guys, look at my shirt!" I responded by saying, "Jesus is King!" He laughed, and he shook hands with us and we got to talking a bit, He loves Christ and we found out we have a lot in common. He understood the threefold office we have been given through baptism; that we share Jesus' priestly, kingly, and prophetic offices. He called himself "non-denominational" and was hesitant to call himself a Christian. He said he just wanted to follow Jesus and that he hated all the divisions in the Body of Christ. Our other evangelist, Anthony, concurred with Jamir and told him that the first Christians just simply called themselves followers of "the Way". I then quoted the words of a Catholic priest in our area that being a Catholic Christian isn't so much about identifying as a certain group, but that it is "a way of seeing", a way of seeing as Christ wants us to see, and that must be in a sacramental worldview. I gave him my testimony of why I was Catholic, and quoted to him the prayer of our Lord Jesus to the Father that all Christians might be one as He and the Father are one. I told him that Jesus does not want division, and since the Truth is a person, He wants to lead us into all truth, including the one, true Church that He had founded. We asked him what he had thought of the Catholic Church and he said that he has gleaned good things from all different kinds of confessions, but he worried that different confessions took away from the centrality of Christ. We agreed with him and told him this is why we're Catholic, and that we want to keep the focus on Christ, but to remember the focus of his teaching. Quoting Dr. Tim Gray, I told him that if he accepted Jesus as King, then he must accept Jesus' Kingdom as well. We talked about the parables in Mathew's Gospel which focus on the kingDOM, and that this Kingdom is currently in seed form, for as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. "This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ" (LG 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter" (CCC 567). We talked a bit more and before he parted I asked him if he'd take a copy of Trent Horn's book "Why We're Catholic". He balked at first, but then he said it might be good for him to as he might find something useful. Our other evangelist Nina told him about our diocese's final event the following weekend for Theology on Tap, and he exchanged social media info with Anthony. We all parted amicably, and by that time, the night was over.We had many first time evangelists out, as well as other veteran's, and this being the first large event we had done since 2019, we were very glad to be out there for such a large event. Please keep all we encountered in your prayers!
Bringing Christ our God to our Muslim Friends
December 23, 2020
We went to another fair last year, an this report I had sent to St. Paul's Street Evangelization was posted on their Facebook. The post is reproduced below:
We talk with many fallen away Catholics and Protestants and agnostics when we are evangelizing, but every now and then we talk with Muslims as well. This is when having apologetic material and pamphlets come in handy because many Muslims are challenged by the divinity of Christ, and how God can take on human flesh--a scandalous prospect! They often know their own religion very well and have many questions about Christianity. Sometimes they come to challenge, but sometimes also they are open to learning, as we will see from this story.
The following report comes from evangelist Nick of the Joliet, Illinois team reporting from the “Taste of Wheaton” fair:
“A man named Sabeel from the Muslim booth came by with his friend and started asking us about why we're OK with images connected to devotion when the Protestants point to the Ten Commandments' prohibition of images. I referenced the images commanded by God such as the bronze serpent and the beings on the top of the ark of the covenant.
Then he turned the discussion to address the saints. We explained we believe they're alive, but he was asking for biblical references to the practice of having people in heaven pray for us. I explained not everything we believe has an explicit Bible reference, but that we believe the authority of the Church to develop doctrine over time. This wasn't quite satisfactory to him. He took a bunch of our pamphlets and said he really wanted to discuss the divinity of Christ with whoever is there tomorrow. He's told us that he was going to read our brochure on it and come ready with arguments!
Father Max talked with the Muslims. He said that the questions they asked were so good. He didn’t see it as a negative at all. Yes, it was a long conversation but he thought it was fruitful as it helped clear up for them some misconceptions about Christianity and established a dialogue. However, he only talked to them and maybe 1 or 2 other people because the group of three Muslims took about an hour talking. From what I can tell, it was fruitful and they were asking honest questions. Steve said Fr. Max is such a nice guy that even after Mary Beth told them we had to let Father talk with other people, Father kept talking with them. Angela said that they told Father they have never gotten to talk with a Catholic about Christ's divinity like this before.”
Praised be Jesus Christ! “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Saint Paul Street Evangelization equips ordinary Catholics to do the extraordinary work of evangelization with people from all walks of life. From apologetics to prayer and healing to public witness, we are answering the call of our Lord to “make disciples of all nations.” Join us!
Christmas Carols and Evangelization at the Mall!
December 23, 2020
Below is a repost from St. Paul's Street Evangelization's Facebook where I had submitted our report from an awesome Christmas outing we had!
Evangelism is not an exact science. It takes prayer, intuition, adaptability. It also provides great opportunities to get creative and adapt to situations on the fly and meet people where they are. The Holy Spirit is always right there when our hearts are centered on the right things, to make a way for us!
This report comes to us from evangelist Nick of the Joliet, Illinois SPSE team:
“I wanted to take the opportunity to recap our most recent outing from December 22nd, just before Christmas. An awesome idea came from on of our Station Leaders, Chris. He’ll tell you that all the credit goes to our Lord Jesus (which, yes, ultimately it does go to Him!), but without Chris’ action and organization, the event would not have been possible.
If you’re unfamiliar with a flash mob, what it consists of is a group of people coming together in a public place, and then surprising all the people there with something unexpected. In our case, we descended upon one of the biggest malls in the Chicago suburbs, in Oak Brook, and started singing Christmas carols for the glory of our Lord Jesus. However, there was one snag we hit.
Apparently, security was made aware of our plans, and even though we were outside, we were still on what was considered private property. Originally, they were not going to allow us to pass out any literature or sacramentals, nor were they going to let us sing. After some negotiation, we were still unable to send out our prayer teams with resources for the public, but we were allowed to sing about half of the songs we had planned to sing.
In order to make us stand out, Chris brought some Santa hats for us to wear. About 35 of us or so all lined up and started off with a secular song (Frosty the Snowman), before we ramped it up to glorifying our Lord through such hymns as Silent Night.
As we were right in the middle of the main square outside the mall, many people gathered to watch us sing praises to our Lord, taking their own videos and cheering us on as well. When all was said and done, the head of security, who had not wanted us there originally, came up and told us that it was really nice what we did. We hope to change hearts one step at a time! Although we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do that night, we hope that we were one step on the road to conversion for some of the people there. Perhaps someone there realized they haven’t been to Mass for a while, and that maybe they should this year. We won’t know this side of Heaven. But if it takes someone 1,392 steps to come into union with our Lord, and we can be step 847, then we will gladly be step 847!
Below is one anecdote from one of our team members as she was leaving the main square:
We had an opportunity to evangelize a young man working as a valet at Roku.
As we were walking by I asked him how business was going for the night. He said “good” then said “hey I like your hat. “ I told him about our caroling and asked him if he wanted to wear my hat to make better tips. He asked if it was free and I said “yes”. After he put the hat on I asked to take his picture. He allowed it but covered his face because he was working.
Then I asked him if he was going to church on Christmas. He is a member of St James and will be attending Mass. I asked if he owed a rosary and he reached for his pocket then looked up and said it was in his car. Then I asked if he was familiar with the story of the young French nun, visionary of the miraculous medal. He was not. When offered him a medal, he hesitated. I said “ it’s free!” “Sure”he said and took the medal and the pamphlet.
I asked him to please read the story to his family on Christmas Day because the story is so beautiful. He said he would. We left then because technically he was working and I did not want to get him in trouble. I attached his picture. Thank you for the Santa hat! Turned out to be a great talking point.”
Praised be Jesus Christ! Way to go team, in getting creative with spreading the Good News message in the midst of a secular setting! We should never be ashamed of the Gospel, but we should also not be afraid to use what is profitable in being able to spread what Christ taught in a language the culture can understand, whether it’s caroling or something else. When we are centered on the Lord and doing His will, He will provide the opportunities! Why don’t you join us?
More From our 2018 Maiden Voyage at Taste of Wheaton
December 23, 2020
When you think about how people come to Christ, or come back to the Church, it is in many instances through what Pope Francis calls “a culture of encounter;” that is, coming into personal contact with people who are living the faith and, as Paul says, being “imitators of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). When people have bad experiences with Christians or the Church, they can often be put off by the disconnect between what Christians claim to profess and how they live. Those wounds can live for years and keep people from experiencing the love of Christ lived out and in the sacraments. Thankfully in our work as evangelists, we are given opportunities to make new impressions and be a light to the world in word and deed with those we encounter.
This report comes from evangelist Nick of the Joliet, Illinois team:
“Throughout the day, we handed out many rosaries. At least 150! Many people were more than happy to take one, and we were able to give them instructions (from SPSE) on how to pray the rosary. Miraculous medals were in hot demand too, as were some million dollar bills featuring Pope Francis. The kids especially liked getting some extra “money” for their piggy banks!
One of our station leaders, John, was also able to have some meaningful conversations with the passerby, particularly with a military veteran, Thomas, who had served our country in Afghanistan. It was clear he had a heavy heart, and John encouraged Thomas to return to the sacraments. Thomas asked for prayers and we were able to pray with him right there, on the spot. Another one of our station leaders, Edgar, also was able to pray on the spot with a woman who had been suffering from some ailments. People were very glad to have the opportunity to pray with others.
I myself was also able to pray with quite a few people, including Sandy for the conversion of her daughter (and we also pray for her reversion to the Catholic faith for her as well). I also spent some time talking with Karen, who has been hurt and scandalized by a number of things that have taken place within the Church. These scandals have led her to question the Church, but she knows that she needs Christ, and that she wants to find a good parish to go to. We prayed right there, especially in thanksgiving for a recovery from illness, and we’re hoping to find her a great spiritual home and that she will return to the sacraments.
Needless to say, please keep all of these people (and those that I didn’t mention!) in your prayers. We don’t know what effect our witness will have this side of heaven, but we can only hope that we planted some seeds, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully some of these people we met will return to the Church. We could also use your continued support with prayers as well for the success of our apostolate.”
Praised be Jesus Christ! As our Lord tells us, “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:14, 16). In cultivating a culture of encounter and praying for those we meet, we live by example...which is the best witness to the love of Christ! Let’s work on our own lives and allow God’s grace to motivate everything we do, and in doing so we can trust we will “bear much fruit” (Jn 15:8). Will you join us in our work?
Listen to Nick’s “Story from the Street” podcast here!: https://streetevangelization.com/stories-from-the-street/
From Our Maiden Voyage as the Joliet Team in 2018
December 23, 2020
Hi everyone. My name is Nick and I lead the Team here in the Joliet area. The following posts (including this one) are reposts of our original blog which was unfortunately lost last year. But through the technology of Facebook, some were found. Here is our testimony from going out on the streets to bring Christ to those in our communities who do not yet know Him, or wish to know Him more deeply! This first story comes from our first outing in June of 2018:
One passage from scripture that SPSE evangelists take to heart, among others, is from the first letter of Saint Peter, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). The Catholic faith has a rich intellectual and spiritual tradition. We are informed by faith and reason, the “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” (Pope St. John Paul II), and so it is always a privilege to share that with those who are open to it to see why the Catholic Church “makes good sense.”
“This past Saturday, the Joliet Chapter of St. Paul’s Street Evangelization went out for the first time to the Taste of Wheaton festival in Wheaton, IL. We were out evangelizing on the streets for a little over 7 hours during this very well attended festival and many people were happy to see us! Of course, some people walked right by us and rejected our offers of prayers or rosaries, but no one was belligerent and we were able talk with a wide array of people during our time there. We had 8 people come out and evangelize with us, so a big thanks to our station leaders, certified evangelists, and friends who came out to volunteer their time for this great apostolate!
We were able to pass out quite a bit of literature on a variety of topics from Petrine primacy to the divinity of Christ and from examination of consciences to copies of Trent Horn’s new book “Why We’re Catholic”. I think we probably gave away 7 or 8 copies of Horn’s new book, and we only did that for people that we were most engaged with. I honestly didn’t think we’d give that many away, but people were happy to learn more about a faith they weren’t too familiar with, or simply wanted to learn more! One young girl, Brooklynn, was out with her father and had just received the Sacrament of Confirmation the week prior. We congratulated her and told her we’d pray for her. But I related to her my own story of moving on to high school, and how, often, I wasn’t able to give a good explanation for my faith. I couldn’t tell others why I believed what I believed. I told her that I didn’t want her to be in the same situation, so I offered her a copy of Horn’s book which she gladly accepted. Her dad was overjoyed and thanked us for the gift.
She wasn’t the only one, though, who received the book. We also gave some to a few lapsed Catholics, and an inquiring young man who will soon be baptized in an Evangelical church. This young man, a sophomore who is being homeschooled, approached our booth as his mom talked to another volunteer. He took one of the “Why Be Catholic” pamphlets and stood a ways off, but actually reading it! I wondered if it would be prudent to reach out to him again as he and another friend discussed and read the tract. After a few minutes, and his mother still talking, I asked the young man if he had any friends who were Catholic. He said that he did. I told him to feel free in asking me any questions, and he actually had some really good ones!
His first question was, “Do Catholics believe that they are saved by grace alone?” I could tell this was a smart kid! I told him that yes, as the Church has always taught, we are saved by God’s grace, but we must work with Him through our faith and good works, so that He may say to us at our judgement, “You have done well, good and faithful servant”. I gave him one of the “Salvation” pamphlets as well and we talked a little bit more about how faith and good works work into our salvation, and we got into a little exposition of St. James’ Letter. He also mentioned that his father reads quite a bit from Catholic authors, particularly on philosophical issues because, as his dad says, “Catholics know what they’re talking about here”. To my absolute shock, he mentioned that he (the teenager) has been reading Peter Kreeft and Dr. Edward Feser’s new book “Five Proofs for the Existence of God” for his home school! How awesome is that?!
I told him that I also had just gotten that book for Christmas and was starting to read it too, while also mentioning Peter Kreeft’s deep love for our Lord in the Eucharist, which led to a brief discussion of how our churches both understand our Lord’s words to “Take eat, and do this in remembrance of Me.” We talked more about this and about the differences between us, but we also focused on our commonalities. He told me that he was being baptized in a month, to which I told him that we are already brothers in Christ! While there are legitimate differences between us that cannot be swept under the rug by any means, I rejoiced with him in that he will be reborn in this great sacrament soon. We then prayed together, and I thanked him for his witness. He also took a copy of “Why We’re Catholic”, and soon after, following a visit to our website, he reached out to me again via e-mail, thanking me for the prayers and for answering his questions, telling me he’d let me know if he had more. Praise God for his willingness to learn more about the Catholic Church!”
Praised be Jesus Christ! What a great witness and outing! Not all people will listen or be open to the message of Jesus Christ and the Truth of the Catholic faith, but for those who are, SPSE evangelists are well equipped to answer objections and offer encouragement and reasons for belief that align with reason. Will you join us in this important work?