Group learns about benefits of street evangelization

“Hi, I’m Adam, would you like a Miraculous Medal or a rosary? Can I pray for you?”

That introduction has served as a bridge of trust to welcome stray Catholics back to the Church through a program called St. Paul Street Evangelization. This was the focus of a training workshop on Jan. 27, 2024, at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples.

Adam Janke, from St. Paul Street Evangelization, led the workshop and guided the participants through the process of how to share their faith with anyone, at any time.

“In its basic form, this is the work of relational/prayer ministry,” Janke said. “It is about going out on the street – where the people are – and meeting people in their woundedness. This is where there are moments of healing, as you serve as a conduit of the Holy Spirit to help others gradually get to heaven.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane opened the workshop by celebrating Mass. The Bishop encouraged the participants to take what they are learning out to their Parishes and onto the street as a way to encourage others to share the Light of Christ.

“This is powerful. This can make a difference,” Bishop Dewane said. “We need to have people like you out there, showing God’s Mercy to others; showing that you care and will pray for them.”

At the end of the workshop, many of the group took part in a “live lab,” where they practiced what they learned at the Mercato, a shopping, dining and residential complex at U.S. 41 and Vanderbilt Beach Road.

In pairs, the new street evangelizers confidently approached strangers and offered rosaries and Miraculous Medals. It was quickly apparent that what they were doing was at the least an interesting curiosity to some, and intriguing to those who understood what was being handed out and what was being offered – prayers.

One woman who accepted a Miraculous Medal and was prayed for by two of the new street evangelizers went directly to her waiting friend with a broad smile and proclaimed, “Hey, you won’t believe it. I was just prayed for. Isn’t that great!”

The new evangelizers spent about an hour encountering people. The joy the participants felt afterward was infectious. “People were so wonderful,” one man said. “This was easier than I thought. Once you present them with a rosary, if they don’t know what it is you explain it and the conversation starts. You can immediately see that they are changed by that encounter. It was beautiful to be a part of this. I can’t wait to go out again.”

Sponsored by the Diocesan Department of Evangelization, a previous training workshop took place in Sarasota on Sept. 30, 2023. The goal of the training sessions is to form area St. Paul Street Evangelization teams, with groups set up in every major community in the Diocese going out monthly to evangelize.

While street evangelization is not for everyone, Janke explained that the lessons offered apply in everyday life. This can be with a family member who may have strayed from the Church, friends who are of another faith and might have questions about Catholicism, or a stranger at a store or on the street. “I want you to have the confidence to have that encounter. Let the Holy Spirit do the rest.”

If you are interested in learning more about the St. Paul Street Evangelization program with the Diocese, please contact Jim Gontis at 941-484-9543 or gontis@dioceseofevnice.org.

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