A Report from the Frontline

As you know the Archdiocese of Washington is extending invitations to people who are part of our family of faith but have not been participating in our life of prayer and worship. Archbishop Wuerl has asked us to take his invitation and to give it to someone and invite the person to join us for Mass. This makes some of us quite nervous. It is not that we don’t want to do it. Many of us, in fact, pray regularly for family members or friends to find their way back to church. Often, our hesitation is wondering how the person we want to invite will respond. Today, I’d like to share two stories about “what happened next…” and ask you to share your stories.

 

Firstly, From Fr. Mike, a priest at St. Camillus parish. Fr. Mike is excited abut this initiative because a number of years ago, something similar changed his life. In his words:

Twenty years ago, I was just such a young man, who had drifted away from the church  for a number of years, until a friend invited me to come to Mass. Not realizing how much I missed the experience, I initially said “no.” This friend was persistent because he too had been away from the church for a while and knew it what a huge difference returning, reconnecting had made in his own life. Because of his persistent invitation and his sharing his experience I ultimately said “yes” and went to Mass with him. Absent that invitation 20 years ago, my life might have taken a very different course. To this day, I am incredibly grateful for the gift of this invitation. As we prepare to celebrate the greatest sacrifice, the mystery of Christi’s Passion and the gift of new life on Easter Sunday, let us reach out and bring God home to those who have drifted away from the Church.

Secondly, an eyewitness account from Maggie Gutiérrez, Coordinator of Evangelization and Hispanic Christian Initiation:

I have been explaining our Lenten initiative to my friends, my family, my coworkers and leaders on the parish evangelization team. Last week, I met with the planning team for the RCIA Retreat for Spanish speakers at which we are expecting 500 people. I was meeting the retreat planning team for dinner to go over some details. We went to a Mexican restaurant in Silver Spring and while we were driving I found myself again retelling the story of how Archbishop Wuerl sent hundreds of invitations to the parishes and that he is asking us to give them out to people who we want to invite back. After we ate our delicious dinner, and we were discussing the planning of the retreat, we noticed  that our young waiter kept coming back to the table and chit chatting in a friendly manner. 

At some point he asked if we were Catholic, which he probably figured out because Father Jose Arriaga was wearing his clerics and collar. So we talked to our waiter friend, Anastasio (Father told him it means resurrection in Greek)  and he told us that he always tries to go to Mass even when he has to work on Sunday, though that is not always easy. We told him that Saturday night Mass is also an option. He left us again to continue our meeting. I told Father:  “Hey Father, I have with me a few Spanish invitations, why don’t you give Anastasio one and ask him to give it to a friend?!” 

Father answered, “Anastasio could probably do that right here and now, just look around, all the waiters,  they are all young  adults.” So when Anastasio came  back, Father José, who is a Scripture scholar, a former university professor, very calmly, very clearly, very much the teacher, explains the   program to Anastasio, and asked Anastasio if he would be interested in helping us by giving an invitation to a friend. Anastasio smiled and immediately said, “give me two, Father.” 

The four of us rejoiced in this young man’s interest in being an evangelizer. We had one of those humble moments when we collectively realized how blessed we are to have an opportunity to be part of God’s ministry of reconciliation this Lent and every day of our lives!

I fear you might be thinking that it’s easy to invite when you are a priest or an RCIA retreat team and that maybe true, so please post a story of your own. Thanks!

 

 

Catholic Evangelizers

We had a post in which someone asked “How can I give witness to my faith?” Since this is without doubt one our top ten favorite questions, with a nod to David Letterman, I present the Top Ten ways Catholics evangelize.

 

10. Learn the Church’s history and teaching see www.adw.org/education , click on adult religious formation and see http://eps.trinitydc.edu

 9.  Get comfortable talking about why you love being a Catholic.

 8.  Around the water cooler or lunch table, say something like “My pastor made a really interesting point in his homily on Sunday” See what happens!

7. Join the Catholic Legislative Network.  It sends alerts when we need Catholics to contact our elected officials and weigh in something before our legislators. www.adw.org, click on service and justice.

6. When a neighbor, co-worker, or friend shares a concern or bad news, offer to pray for them and for the need. I’ve never been turned down for the promise of prayer.

5. Read your Bible.

4. Invite someone to join you at Mass, at a parish activity, or for a lecture.

3. Pray for a deeper faith, for the needs of the Church for the needs of the world.

2. Be a person of hope, be grateful for all that God gives you…People notice that.

 

And the number 1 way to witness to your Faith

 

1. Live your faith fully. Actively participate in weekly Mass. Receive the sacraments regularly. Make a regular retreat. People will want what you’ve got.

 

What did I forget? Post a comment

The Beauty of the Mass

The following video is a brief but beautiful tapestry of the Mass.

The video invites you to visit the website www.catholicmass.org, which contains inspriational and instructional material on the Holy Mass.  A full DVD can also be purchased, and it is a wonderful resource for those either returning to the Mass or wanting to learn more of the Sacred Liturgy.

Ask a Question

Some folks who have been away for a while have questions and concerns to express. (Even Catholics who have never been away have many questions!) Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog to ask questions and state concerns. All of us who contribute to this blog are pleased to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your questions will help this blog to get its wings and really fly. Ask and ye shall be answered!

Take A Guess

How many adults do you think are preparing to join the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Washington this Easter?

Post your guess and check back in with me on Monday. The winner will receive the promise of my prayer for their special request.

Catholics-Secret Service Evangelizers

Why is it so hard for Catholics to evangelize? We say it is not part of our tradition, yet, Jesus can be heard saying “Come and see.” We say, oh, I don’t want to seem pushy, or faith is too personal. Evangelization is sharing the Good News. Who has ever heard good news and thought, gosh, I’m not going to say anything, she might feel like I’m imposing.

Shortly after I moved to Washington, I was waiting for the train at the Brookland Metro Stop. A young woman approached and asked which train went to Georgetown. I knew enough to say, there is not a direct train, but did not know what more to say and so I said “I’m new to D.C. and not sure.” And she said, “I am new to town as well, have you found a church home?” I was taken aback and looked to see if I had something on that revealed I was Catholic! I said, no, I am looking at a couple of parishes. My evangelizer replied, “I’ve found a church I really like, near Union Station, do you want to come with me?”  Hesitantly, I said, ” Well, I’m looking for a Catholic parish, but I am happy you’ve found a church you like.”   My evangelizer said, Can I have you phone number, because finding a good church is so important, I want to call you in a few weeks to see if you have found a church home.” Big hesitation on my part!  I was hooked and wanted to see where this would go, so I wrote down my phone number and name and we parted.

Sure enough, a few weeks later, my evangelizer called and said “Hi, remember we met at the Brookland Metro and talked about finding a church home, did you find one?” I said “yes, I found a parish I really like.”  She said “Praise God, my community is great as well, I’m so happy for both of us. And we said goodbye, promising to pray for one another.

Ten year later, I still pray for her from time to time because she is a model for me of the right way to do evangelization. What was not to like about her enthusiasm,  about how important finding a church home was to her settling into a new city, how her keeping her promise to check back.  She found something good and wanted to share that. What’s not to like about that?

This Lent, Archbishop Wuerl is asking us to invite a fellow Catholic whose forgotten how important a church home is one’s life, to rediscover the Mass.  Archbishop Wuerl is depending on us to share with someone why Mass is so important to us or what difference it makes in our week or whatever it is about our faith that is good news for us. My experience has taught me that even if the person says “no.” They have always appreciated that I thought enough of them to ask.

If you are reading this and you have not been with us at Mass for a little while, or a long time, ask a Catholic friend if you can join them. Trust me, that will be so grateful you did the hard part! If you don’t know a Catholic and would like to visit a Catholic church, please post that in our comment section and we will help you make that connection.