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Outing with Bishop Barron
September 23, 2023
We were blessed to have Bishop Barron join our evangelization outing on the Peace Plaza outside the Mayo Clinic. Below is the story that was sent to SPSE and included in our diocesan Courier. Peace--Deb
Going Out Through the Door into the Sweltering Heat
When I talk to groups about evangelization, I always share this quote from Pope Francis "We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!" ... "It's not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people." Each time our teams go out, we are doing just what our Holy Father has urged us to do. We are also following the call of our own Shepherd, Bishop Barron, who reminds us of the urgency of the mission of evangelization. Sometimes we talk to and pray for those who know nothing about God and can talk about why we believe in Him. Sometimes we talk to and pray for those who have a Protestant faith background, and we can share why we are Catholic or just plant a seed for the Lord to nurture. Sometimes we talk to and pray for those who have left the Church and we can invite them to come home. Sometimes we talk to and pray for those who are faithful Catholics, and we can witness to the call we all have to share out faith with others. Oftentimes we encounter all of these in our time on the street. Today was one of those days.
Today when we went out, I think it was the hottest day of the summer so far this year (it got to 97 with a heat index in the triple digits). We went out a little earlier than usual to try to beat the worst of the heat and because Bishop Barron was going to join us on the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester. As usual, we prayed before we went to the Plaza for those that we would meet and for all of our evangelists. Before the Bishop joined us, we set up our prayer stations and began talking to and praying with people. A man who worked at a nearby restaurant walked by and we asked if he would like a blessed medal or prayer. He stopped to talk and told us he used to be Catholic. I said, “Tell me what happened.” He told us that there were many things, but the tipping point was when he got hollered at during Confession. He said after that, he just left. His mom told him later, that she had a dream that he would have a problem during Confession. I apologized for that happening and we prayed for him. He wanted to pray for the priest, so we also named him and prayed for him. The man had to leave, so we told him that we would continue to pray for him in our adoration chapel.
Our evangelist, Laurie, recognized a young man who was working on filming some people who were part of PossAbilities- a group that works with those with disabilities. Several of the young adults in the group came over to look at our medals and talk to our evangelist. One of the young men with disabilities wanted a medal to keep in his pocket and so we let him pick out the one he liked. He told us he was very depressed, and we asked if we could pray for him. He said yes, but he didn’t want to do it by the others in the group. We moved to a more private spot and prayed. He was very thankful. Another young man in the group also wanted a medal and he asked if he could take a pamphlet about The Existence of God. We were able to talk to him about God and he had a beautiful, childlike innocence in his belief in God. The first man we prayed with came back and asked if we could pray for four miracles. We said sure and asked what they were- and he said the four miracles would be for his father, his mother, his grandmother, and his sister to stop smoking. Another young man asked for prayers for his roommate who had died and that he would be able to find a new roommate.
Several women walked by and didn’t want to stop to talk to us but called over that we could pray for Bill who was going through treatment. A man, John, was walking by and we asked if he would like prayer for anything. He said he didn’t have time to talk, but then stopped and talked to us for quite a while. He asked for prayer for prostate surgery that he was going to be having tomorrow. He told us that it wasn’t cancerous and that two of his brothers had just recently had the same surgery – one was cancerous, and the others wasn’t. He shared that he was Presbyterian but thought well of Catholics. We talked about our beliefs and then prayed for him and his surgery. While we were praying, Bishop Barron joined us and was able to give John a blessing. They talked about how they both enjoyed reading about the history of different faith traditions, including Calvin. Bishop Barron told John that he taught a course on this period when he was teaching at the seminary.
The man who left the church who we had talked to earlier stopped by again to talk and tell us that his life was really good outside the church – we asked some probing questions, and he shared some more – our evangelist Angie followed him as he was leaving and invited him back to church. He said he would come. Praise God!
A woman stopped and asked for prayers for her husband who was at the clinic for problems with his eyes. We prayed for him and gave her a miraculous medal. A young couple stopped by our prayer station and the wife had just had thyroid cancer surgery and now was told that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She told us she felt that God had put us there for her today. Tom prayed for her comfort and peace and to remember that Jesus is walking with her. He also prayed for healing for her cancer. We shared with them both the story of the miraculous medal and how many people have experienced miracles through Mary’s intercession. Bishop Barron gave both of them his blessing.
Another couple stopped when we asked if they needed prayer. The husband was having surgery for a brain tumor and then for his knee. They were protestant but were interested in what the Catholic Church taught and believed so we talked about that. They recognized the Bishop’s name and asked about him. We shared the Word on Fire site with them, and the wife pulled it up on her phone while we were standing there so she would remember to look it over. Bishop Barron prayed for the man’s health conditions and for his wife and gave them his blessing.
While we were praying for the couple, the women who had passed by earlier came back. They told us they didn’t stop at first because they thought we were from Jehovah’s Witness. They had never seen Catholics out on the street sharing their faith and praying for those in need. The three women were the sisters of Bill, who was being treated for a brain tumor. The tumor was affecting his language and memory and they were hoping for good scans today, Angie, our evangelist, was able to share her experiences of healing from a similar cancer, which was also a blessing to them. We were able to pray for them and also for Bill and gave them some blessed medals to give to Bill and his wife.
Another couple recognized Bishop Barron right away and we talked with her while he was finishing praying with someone else. The young woman’s face just lit up when she saw the Bishop. She told us she had a non-cancerous tumor on her spine that she needed surgery for, and she was very anxious about. When the Bishop came over, she and her husband shared with him how much they love his talks and sermons – she said she had just finished listening to him on Hallow before they walked outside and just couldn’t believe he was there in person. We prayed for her, and the Bishop blessed her. She turned and gave me a big hug and said, “you just don’t even know how much this means to me.” She also shared that it was her birthday. What a blessing it was to pray for her.
Just a note that our evangelists Tom and Angie were celebrating their anniversary today (what a gift to give back to the Lord for all their blessings). Bishop Barron blessed them on their special day. He also blessed our evangelist Jenny, who is leaving for a year – we will miss her very much!
As we were packing up to leave, we asked a very nice man walking by if he would take a picture of our team. He kindly agreed! Before we split up to head our separate ways, we praised the Lord for his goodness in bringing so many people to us so we could share God’s love and mercy with them. We were especially thankful for Bishop Barron’s being able to evangelize with us today. God is so good!
Additional prayer requests:
- Woman with breast cancer
- Abbie- prayers for 5 girls
- Repose of Ginny’s soul
- Andrea and Jackie healing
- Linda- surgery
- Darla – throat
- Mackenzie- prayers for 3 children
- Gina- guidance with work discernment
- Chuck – lymphoma
Listen, Befriend, Proclaim, and Invite!
June 2, 2023
[This article appeared in the May issue of The Courier- our Diocesan Newsletter]
The two great commandments are Love God and Love Your Neighbor. When our teams go out to evangelize in our communities, we are able to follow those two great commandments. We love God by following his commission to bring Him to the whole world. We love our neighbor by being willing to share God’s love with those we meet on the street or in our daily lives. At St. Paul Street Evangelization we use the model of Listen, Befriend, Proclaim, and Invite. The first step is to always love our neighbor through listening and befriending. So many people never have an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus, except through someone willing to step out in faith and bring him to another. As St. Theresa of Calcutta put it very simply“ To evangelize means that you have Jesus in your heart, and then you carry him to the hearts of others“. Recently, I was doing the Easter Challenge in Hallow reading Acts and this line came up after Chapter 24 “We should look for a divine opportunity to share the Gospel to those that might not hear it except for us.” What exactly does that look like? For our teams in the region that go out jointly in Rochester, we meet together before walking to the Peace Plaza. We bring blessed medals, holy cards, rosaries, and a “Need Prayer?” sign. If we are blessed to have a priest with us, we also bring an “Ask a Priest” sign. We pray that the Lord would send us those that need for us to be his hands and heart that day. Those are divine appointments. Each time we go out, there is always at least one divine appointment, but often there are many.
On our first outing of the year last month, we talked to many people who were hurting spiritually or physically and were able to pray for all of them. We prayed for peace and healing for people with heart problems, abdominal disease, issues with pain, hope for clear cancer scans, and listened to stories of anxiety and fear. One Catholic couple in town for a follow up visit at Mayo from a southern state was shocked (and delighted) to see other Catholics out on the street sharing their faith. After talking for a while, we learned of a deep need for healing of someone in their family who had suffered severely. We were able to pray for that family member and for the couple’s needs in caring for this person. Having the common connection of being Catholic made it feel like we were talking to old friends. We all felt so graced to have met each other and being able to lift their needs in a special way up to the Lord.
Sometimes the Lord sends a divine appointment when you least expect it. I was getting a checkup recently and the nurse working with me happened to mention that her husband had severely injured his eyes in a farming accident. I had a blessed St. Michael medal and holy card with me and asked if she would like it. She started to cry, and I prayed for her husband’s healing. I found out that she was a fallen away Catholic, so we talked for a bit about that, and I invited her to check out Word on Fire and also the Bible in a Year podcast. I shared with her how easy it was to come back home to the church.
While we are blessed in our diocese to be able to evangelize at a place like the Mayo Clinic, where the needs are so great, each of our communities have people living in them who have deep wounds they are carrying. How can we reach them? We can start by having hearts open to those Jesus sends across our paths. Does this sound scary? I was scared the first time, too, but now I find it an amazing blessing to be on mission for the Lord. If you are looking for practical ways to get started, contact Susan or me and we can meet with you to help. Our evangelists are at Farmer’s Markets, in parks, outside of Walmart’s, at parishes for drive-through prayer, and more. Anywhere there are people, there is an opportunity to share about Jesus and his Church in a loving and non-confrontational way. Who needs to meet Jesus through you today? The Lord is calling us all to be missionary disciples. Will you answer the call?
Regional Missionary/Team Leader
Missionaries March Onward
May 11, 2020