Getting to Know Your Co-Leaders
June 3, 2021
Charlotte Fister, Co-Leader
I have been married to Tom for 30 years, we have two kids ages 16 & 20. We are members of St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon, OH. When I have time, I love to read . . . anything. Although, my current passion is listening to the Bible in a Year podcast, by Fr. Mike Schmitz. As a family, our vacation is cruising the Caribbean.
I am a Catholic convert, I converted about 14 years ago, but I didn't really understand my faith until three years ago when I went to a Welcome retreat at my parish. It was at this retreat that I became filled with the Holy Spirit and wanted to learn more and get to know God and Jesus.
When God speaks – I have been doing my best to listen. So, when I kept hearing about those that are not Catholic or who do not know Jesus in relation to another Welcome retreat that I was a part of and at the closing of that retreat forming a new evangelization team was mentioned, I listened. When we were asked to discern if we wanted to be the leader of this new team and every time, I turned on a podcast or opened the Bible, God was saying “I don’t call the qualified, I qualify the called”, I listened.
My hope is that when I am out on the streets, that the people that I am talking to become filled with the Holy Spirit like I was at that first retreat. That they come to understand and know that God loves them just as they are, the same way I now know and understand that He loves me just as I am.
Lauren Connolly, Co-Leader
I have been married to John Connolly for 17 years, we have a 13 year old boy who is our entire world. We are members of St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon, OH. 2020 hit us hard as it has for many people, and we found ourselves middle aged and starting over. My husband and I started a drone business together called, JL Aerial Views. With his passion for maps and great customer service skills and my eye for photography and social media knowledge, it seems that we are following God’s calling for us right now. As a family, we love to be outside- hiking, geocaching, biking, camping, and boating are a few of the favorites.
I am born and raised Catholic, even went to a Catholic High School. As an adult, I found myself a “Chreaster”- only attending mass at Christmas and Easter. I felt as though I was only ever going through the motions and never really understanding what this is all about. Like Charlotte, I had a transformational experience with the Welcome Retreat. My previous career was as a diver, so when the theme of the weekend was water, it grabbed my attention! God touched my life in many different ways during that retreat and my life has been forever changed.
Going out on the street and talking about the good news with strangers is a bit nerve wracking, but it is also exciting. It only takes a moment for God to work through someone and completely turn their life around. I pray that these moments that we are out of our comfort zone, put people on the same path to salvation!
Everyone has a Story to Tell
April 22, 2021
Everyone loves a good story. Think about it. Since the dawn of time, man has been telling stories. From around the campfire to the big screen to social media, we spend a lot of our day listening to or telling stories! The right story has the power to change someone's life in a magnificently positive way.
That is what your St. Francis de Sales and St. Philip's St Paul Street Evangelization team has been working on the past few meetings. Many of us on the team have had experiences sharing longer versions of our witness story. Your story you tell on the street is similar, but when Evangelizing, an effective story to someone you just met is a short one. You also want to include these elements: life before Christ, how Jesus entered into your life, how your life is different now.
There is a fine line to walk when encountering people on the street because you have to be able to gauge how much they want to interact with you and also know which parts of your story are going to cut to their heart the most. There are several different methods to start this conversation, for instance, offering a sacramental, asking them about their faith, and praying with them.
We just have a few short training sessions left before we hit the streets on our own! Please pray for us on this journey. Also consider dropping some prayer requests on the website.
Let us introduce ourselves to Lebanon!
April 11, 2021
On Saturday, April 10, the St. Francis De Sales and St. Philip's St. Paul Street Evangelization team spent the day at the Let's Lebanon! event. This event is an expo for local businesses and organizations to get together in one space and gain exposure to the public. The team spent their Saturday letting the Lebanon community see what SPSE is all about. Special thank you to Charlotte for setting up our booth the Friday before- it looks beautiful!
We met those that came to the booth with smiles and friendly hellos and would you like something free? We offered books and pamphlets, rosaries, medals and crucifixes. Each booth at the event had an item to raffle off in a drawing. Our raffle items were a rosary bracelet and the book The Joy of Praying the Rosary. In order to enter into the raffle, guests were asked to fill out a prayer request. Many weren’t interested in the drawing, but still left a prayer request. There is that theme we saw from the team's first event- the true power is in prayer! Prayer is what people are truly yearning for more than just free stuff. The team will be creating a prayer journal with these requests submitted at the expo and whenever the team meets we will pray for all of these requests and the ones we will get in the future.
We had a great day meeting the community of Lebanon and letting them know that we existed. Many people thanked us for starting this team and being out there, especially with the way the world is right now. We are looking forward to meeting many more members of this community and anyone the Holy Spirit puts in our path.
March 30, 2021
March 21, the start of Spring and the start of new beginnings! It is so serendipitous that the St. Francis De Sales & St. Philip’s St. Paul Street Evangelist Team shadowed the Cincinnati St. Paul Street Evangelist Team downtown at Smale Riverfront Park on the first day of Spring. It is a happy coincidence not just because it marks the start of our new beginnings as an Evangelist Team, but it also marks the start of new beginnings for the people who we come in contact with on the street.
Five of us from the team were out in the park shadowing Mark and his team from Cincinnati St. Paul Street Evangelization. If I reported back to everyone that we weren't at all nervous going into this event, that would be completely false! For many of us, we ran through every possible scenario in our minds. What if I offend someone? What if I get yelled at? What if the cops come and make us leave? What if someone really escalates things and they push me or throw something at me? I am sure there are many more situations we played out in our heads over the days leading up to the event and just like most things in life, reality isn't as bad what the anxiety played it up to be. Which is why we should give it to God and not worry so much!
The day was absolutely stunning out! Not too hot, not too cold, barely a cloud in the sky, and the first flowers of the year were in bloom. Mark and the team set up a table over by the Brent Spence Bridge at the Smale Riverfront Park Playground. On the table were informational pamphlets on how to pray the rosary, what the miraculous medal is, why return to the Catholic faith, and more. Also on the table were actual rosaries and miraculous medal necklaces, crucifix necklaces, and Catholic books. All of the items we had out are free. We joked that the magic word is "free". Our team was there to shadow, however we could help out as we felt comfortable. For the most part, we watched the Cincinnati team in action.
Here's how everything actually played out:
-One man very admittedly said, "Absolutely not!" to a free rosary.
-One person was a believer and conspiracy theorist discussing how round the Earth is (or is not) with us. In 5 years, it was the first interaction of its kind for the Cincinnati Team and a good example of how to lead with love for our team!
-Most people walked by in a hurry and said, "No, thank you."
-Around a third of those that walked by us took a free rosary and/or medal.
-What was most surprising to our team was how readily people wanted to be prayed over.
-There were a few people that walked right on by us, saying "No, thank you" before we could even finish our sentence. But when they heard, "Is there someone or something we can pray about with you?", they turned on a dime to come back to our table and tell us who they would like us to pray for.
In the beginning, we joked that the magic word was "free". At the end of the day, our take away was that true power was in the word "pray". It was incredible how people opened up to the Evangelist Team about their troubles and how touched they were when they were surrounded by Evangelists putting hands on their back and saying a prayer for them. People that were so quick to want to leave before, stayed to tell us stories, smiling, and hugging the team for the simple act of praying with them. They walked away a little lighter and happier after that simple act. God was truly working in mysterious ways that day!
Shadowing the Cincinnati Team went by so quickly and we learned so much. We have a focus and are excited to continue training over the next few weeks. We are going to slowly start to introduce ourselves to our local community, beginning on April 10th from 8:30am to 1pm at Let's Lebanon! Check out more about Let's Lebanon, a local business community event at the Warren County Fair Grounds at lebanonchamber.org. Stay tuned for more adventures from the street!
March 19, 2021
Pop quiz! If you were asked right now and without the use of the internet, could you describe what the Kerygma is? No judgement here, Saint Paul Street Evangelization is for people at all points in their spirituality journey; the only way to get better is to learn! Don’t be afraid to admit if it is one of those terms that you feel like you should know. You know you have heard the word Kerygma before, and you know it is important; it’s kind of like right there on the tip of your tongue and you are not quite sure how to articulate it.
That is what the St. Paul Street Evangelist team worked on during the last meeting. The Kerygma is HUGE! If you know the meaning and are able to translate that message to others, you can drastically change lives by moving people closer to Jesus. In order to Evangelize, you don’t need to memorize the Bible, you just need to get to the heart of the message of Catholicism and that is the good news!
The definition of Kerygma according to Merriam Webster is “the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ”. Wondering where to begin? St. Paul Street Evangelist Online School spells it out in four parts:
- The Plan: “The loving plan of God for human beings,”
- The Bad News: “Sin and it’s devastating consequences, especially separation from God.”
- The Good News: “God’s answer to our predicament is in the sending of his Son for our salvation,”
- The Invitation: “The response this gift calls for from every person: to repent of our sins, believe in Jesus and be baptized, so we can be filled with his Holy Spirit and live a new life in his family, the Church”
Here is the SPSE example of how this might be shared conversationally with someone you encounter on the street: “God loves you. He created you out of love to be in relationship with Him. He has a plan for your life (1 Jn 4:16; Jer 29:11). But due to sin, we’re separated from God. Sin is destructive and leads to eternal separation from God in hell (Rm 3:23, 6:23). God sent His Son Jesus to become man and make atonement for our sins by dying on the cross, and to rise from the dead to give us eternal life (Jn 3:16). We receive this gift of salvation, and the Holy Spirit, when we put our faith in Jesus, repent of our sins, are baptized, and become His disciples (Eph 2:8-9; Acts 2:38). Jesus established the Catholic Church to teach in His name, empower us by His grace, and restore us to salvation if we fall (Mt 16:18-19; 1 Jn 1:9)”
This message is absolutely beautiful! Your SPSE team has been tasked with praying about this and to then make the words their own. Imagine encountering a stranger and giving them the most important message in the whole world! How would you feel- Adrenaline kicking in a little bit? Maybe feeling some imposter syndrome? You don’t want to sound scripted, and you certainly don’t want to miss any key elements. Each member of the team is going to write the Kerygma in their own words and then practice saying the words out loud to the rest of the team. This practice will help us to make sure that when we encounter people on the street that it feels genuine and that others can hear the Holy Spirit working through us to deliver the message of salvation. What would your Kerygma say?
This is Your Invitation to Learn About Evangelization!
February 28, 2021
To first understand what Evangelization is, let’s dispel some common myths that the media will have you believe. Stop for just a moment and close your eyes and focus what comes to mind when you hear Street Evangelization. Did you envision crusaders by crosswalks with big posters with images of Hell yelling at people scurrying to pass by? Were there thoughts of conversations from people holier-than-thou judging non-believers urging them to repent before it’s too late? Rest assured, Street Evangelization is absolutely none of the above!
Okay, so what is Evangelization? The definition of Evangelization is “to proclaim the good news” (St. Paul Evangelization Institute Course 1). It can be reporting good news about anything. For Street Evangelization, it is to spread the good news that Christ died for our salvation through the debt that he paid for us on the cross, that our sins are forgiven, and this is a gift that is given freely to all of us from God, the father.
Still thinking of stereotypical Evangelists? Let’s call to mind then the first evangelists- the apostles! They lived, followed, and studied the life and love of Jesus Christ’s teachings. Their final calling from Jesus was to go out to all the ends of the Earth and proclaim the good news. When you picture Jesus and the apostles, do you picture yelling and judging people? No! Ancient people gathered from everywhere just to hear Jesus and learn about his loving ways.
Street Evangelization works similarly- in a loving, non-confrontational way. We offer people on the street rosaries and miraculous medals. This opens up the conversation. We share with them our witness to Christ’s love for us as an example of how it can improve their life in immeasurable ways. We ask them if they have any prayer requests and we pray for them. Then the few minute interaction concludes with inviting them to take the next step- this can be meeting for coffee to answer more questions, going to mass, church events, or retreats.
The parishes of St Francis De Sales and St. Phillip are starting this new journey of Street Evangelization. We would like to invite you to keep learning more with us throughout the next few weeks by following our journey. As our Street Evangelist team is learning and growing, we will share each week’s lessons topic through a summary in the blog. It won’t end there, when we hit the streets, we will be blogging about the experiences and lives changed through the simple invitation that Street Evangelization inspires. What lives will you change by planting that seed?
There are many ways that you can help us. You can follow along with the blog, pray for us, and when you feel called- join the team! We are many parts of a whole. Everyone has unique talents and ways that they can contribute to the bigger mission- leading people to Jesus Christ.
A little background on your team:
In October of 2020, at the end of a very moving Women’s Welcome Weekend, Deacon Jay put the call out for interested participants to be in a new evangelization group. A little background about the 2020 Welcome Weekend, the givers went and extra 6 months in preparation for this weekend because… well, you saw the year mentioned- need I say more? The team would meet outside at the school or at Armco Park. The Welcome Lessons were put on pause until a more formal plan for the retreat was put together. In the meantime, the ladies continued to meet socially distanced once a week participating in a Psalm Bible Study, talking about God moments, asking for prayer intentions, and ending each meeting with prayer. In such an uncertain time, it was a relief to gather with our Sisters in Christ and lean on trusting in God. Tara Luers was on that giving team and she is a huge inspiration to many of us to keep the Welcome momentum going. When Deacon Jay made that announcement in October at the end of that retreat, several of us looked at each other and realized that this was God’s calling for us to keep the momentum going.
From Woman's Welcome on the team are Charlotte, Bonnie, Maureen, and Lauren, as well as Deacon Jay himself and his wife, Kathleen. This is just a small snippet of how the team began and just a portion of the team. We have other members from St. Francis De Sales and St. Philip on the team each with their own story about why they feel called to Evangelize. Everyone has a different reason for why they are called to Evangelize and each are uniquely personal and some deeply private. Within the next few weeks, members who feel comfortable sharing their story on the blog will get the opportunity to do so. Before we dive too deep into our Evangelization stories, the next blog will introduce each member of the team!
Over the past several months, Leader, Charlotte Fister, and Co-Leader, Lauren Connolly, completed the St. Paul St. Evangelist (SPSE) Team Leader Training and Certification. SPSE “is a grassroots, non-profit organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the streets… Founded in May 2012, St. Paul Street Evangelization provides the tools and resources for Catholics to engage the culture in a simple, non-confrontational method of evangelization” https://streetevangelization.com/about/ . Currently, there are St. Paul Street Evangelization teams in 39 states. There are even teams in Canada, Amsterdam, England, Honduras, Sweden, and Wales.
The first SPSE Team meeting was held on 2/24 at 7pm in the old library at St. Francis De Sales. Our next meeting is 3/10 at 7pm in the same location. If you are interested in joining the team at any time, please contact Charlotte Fister at Charlotte.Fister@gmail.com or Lauren Connolly at Connollyjlc@gmail.com. God Bless!