Pentecost was alive a day early in the hearts of 100 some old, middle age, and young people as they gathered in St. Agatha’s parish in Woonsocket, Rhode Island for a Day of Evangelization on June 8th. This was the 13th Day of Evangelization this year in the Providence diocese run by the Legion of Mary. Today’s reach out was at the request of Fr. Michael Kelley, pastor of St. Agatha and Precious Blood parishes.
Responding to the call to go out to all the world, two consecrated women and six candidates to the consecrated life in Regnum Christi, joined this endeavor. After hitting the streets and knocking on doors by pairs, they returned for a moment of prayer and sharing.
Victoria Backstrom, a sophomore and candidate to the consecrated life at Mater Ecclesiae College reflected on the variety of people whom she met with contrary beliefs and lifestyles from her own. After her morning of knocking on doors, she felt inspired to share with the community of evangelizers, “Jesus Christ reached out to prostitutes, tax collectors, and great sinners and loved them. As followers of Christ, we need to reach out to others as he did. People don’t need us telling them that what they are doing is wrong. They need to be loved because that is ultimately what they are looking for.”
Edward Gallagher, Legion of Mary member and main organizer of the Days of Evangelization, reminded the participants that they are Christ’s hands, feet, and voice in this world and rallied them to rejoice in their Catholic faith!
At the end two hours the teams had knocked on approximately 800 doors, encountered 500 people and received requests from 54 people for a follow-up phone call or visit. Fifty four seems like a drop in the water compared to the 800 doors that were approached, yet to hearts on fire to share the good news and bring people back to the fold, each person mattered. Where doors were not opened a friendly card was left, inviting them to call the parish if they were interested in learning more. Those who were not touched in person were surely touched by God’s grace through the intercession of the prayer support in front of the Blessed Sacrament back at the parish. And a prayer was said for the inhabitants of those homes by the visiting team.
Vatican II’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity encouraged lay people to recognize their call to evangelize. Fifty years later, efforts are still underway to heed that message and return to the basic gospel appeal, “Go out to all the world…” The recognition of the call to evangelize begins with simple days like this and trickles into daily life. Both individual and collective organized efforts are needed for the culture of evangelization to continue building and simmering in the hearts of Catholics everywhere.