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Turn to Jesus (Article)

On the Street
Regnum Christi Missionaries give testimony to their evangelization efforts in the city of New York

Inside church
One of the objectives of missions is to invite people back to church and confession.

Each year Regnum Christi missionaries take to the streets of New York, in several areas such as near Saint Patrick’s old cathedral, handing out rosaries, inviting people to go to confession or to Mass, or just to visit our Lord in the church.  Following are a selection of blogs from these missionaries about their experiences.  Click here to read these on their local RC website. (You can also click here for a brief Facebook video about the purpose of missions from the LC brothers in New York.)

Did she just say, ´I have seen the Lord´?

Wow! That was something! On the very day we´d set aside to take on two cathedrals, we faced some of the worst weather these missions have seen: cold, rain, some sleet, wind. Relentless. Rather than discourage the cheerful missionaries or the people we greeted, the challenge seemed to spur us all on. Up at Saint Patrick´s, "business" was brisk all day, with confession lines extending to 10 to 15 people for much of the afternoon and evening. At one point, Cardinal Dolan himself had to jump into the fray and man a confessional.

In mid afternoon, a small group of us headed down on the 6 line for Old Saint Pat´s, where we were greeted by quiet streets, more rain-- and the indefatigable Msgr. Sakno and his parish staff. A new missionary, Ed, from one of our Gospel groups arrived with his prayerful wife, and was a natural. His love for every soul that passed him (and whom in many cases he pursued down the street!) was self evident, and in a town starved for love, was heavily appreciated; his bride, Luciana, prayed non-stop for us all in the church, and the effects were palpable outside.

We had several stories of interest from people of other faiths: the Baptist who said ´yes´ to a brother´s invite for Mass; the Muslim with an interest in Mary who took a rosary from another brother to pray on; and the Hindu netted by Ed and Bob who asked for how she could become a Catholic. Her story was the most mysterious. Although a Hindu, she´d recently had a dream that she was drowning, and as the water rose to her neck, she looked up into the sky and "saw the face of Jesus!" Next thing she knew she was on the Lex line and for unexplained reasons got off at Bleeker and ran into Bob and Ed. She said she must have been sent by Jesus, and left with contact information on the parish´s RCIA group!

I reflected later on yesterday´s prayer, which ended with almost the same phrase spoken by this mysterious Hindu woman who floated onto Prince and Mott in the cold, misty night: "I have seen the Lord." Where does this stuff come from?

Tomorrow´s forecast: sun.

"He´s trying to bring back Adam."

After yesterday´s storm, the streets of SoHo seemed washed clean.  A calm befell the place.  And initially it seemed most of the neighborhood´s inhabitants and visitors were still hiding inside.  It was looking to be one of those "quiet nights"-- well enough, we thought!  What can our little band of four missionaries, two brothers, and two priests possibly do anyway? Answer: not much, but that´s not counting the big guy.   Suddenly around 6:00, the sun came out and the heavens opened with souls, and many were responding to us with smiles and joy even if they weren´t our sought-after Catholics. 

The story of the night went to another one of those "chance encounters" which the Lord seems to orchestrate, this one with "Patrick," a middle-aged man in town on business.  He hurried past one of our missionaries on Prince and Mott.  The missionary was engaging two other groups of people on the busy corner, when he spied Patrick looking back as he crossed Prince.  The missionary pursued him, and a conversation ensued, at first rushed, but then deeper. 

Patrick was a Catholic man struggling to convert his non-Catholic in laws. The wife had come first, followed by her parents.  The important hold out was the brother in law.  The missionary, with a big assist from the ebullient Msgr. Sakano who arrived at the corner to help at just that moment (timing is everything), convinced Patrick that the best route to converting his brother in law might be to convert himself-- give up whatever he was rushing off to, whatever he was attached to, and offer up a long-needed confession to the Lord. 

Later, he came back to the corner calm and joyful, and plotted with the missionary a "conversion"  trip to NYC this Sunday with his in-laws, first to Old St Pat´s for the beautiful 12:45 Easter Mass, and then to his target´s first love-- art at the Met.  He excitedly took notes on three Baroque paintings selected to help him stir the man´s spirit. As he left, the missionary asked Patrick his brother in law´s name.  "Adam," he said, and then, with more determination in his voice, "Adam."   He´s trying to bring back Adam.

You are making the world a better place.

Today´s theme was Love.  The love Christ evidenced for us in his passion and death, and our willingness, or unwillingness, to let ourselves be loved by him.  This was the theme for sure of our three bands of teens as they walked the three giant crosses they´d fashioned to Saint Pat´s Old Cathedral in the morning, from Battery Park, Times Square and Central Park, with passersby nailing their intentions to the cross as they progressed.

Love was the theme as our teens, joined by a young member of the parish in the role of the captain of the Roman guards, beautifully and reverently reenacted the Way of the Cross through Little Italy and So Ho-- once again, they shut the place down and converted many hearts with their loving witness. 

And back on the streets, the missionaries locked on to this theme as they reached out to souls.  Our six priests hearing confessions were busy nearly all day, as the Holy Spirit moved so many to take an extra step towards Christ.

And little miracles abounded everywhere.  During the Way of the Cross, when the front of the Church was once again temporarily un-manned, the Bruschi family unexpectedly arrived as if on cue, and took over.  Within minutes, Sonali had a woman newly emerged from her first confession in many years, beaming and crying for joy and kissing and hugging her for being there. 

Another woman literally came skipping out of Church for joy, and so many others came back to us on the corner joyfully with thanks in their hearts.  Skipping for joy seemed to be a sub-plot of the day; another pair of young women performed this same "confession dance", saying that they´d gone in feeling that "something in me needed to change", and were rejoicing, because "now it had".  

One woman who was invited with two friends into  confession was so tearfully moved when she emerged, she called her husband on her cell and asked him to come to also receive the sacrament; he did, and they left the Church hand in hand, and seemingly at peace. 

Another sign of the Holy Spirit´s activity occurred through a walk-in, Thomas, invited to confession by our missionary in the back of the Church.  He emerged joyfully later, and returned to kiss and hug her.  Then he asked for one of her plastic rosaries.  When she gave him one, he pulled from his neck his rosary blessed at Lourdes and Fatima, and presented it to her for healing.  The missionary is suffering from "incurable but treatable" blood cancer. 

Another man, John, who we´d met last year but could not get to confession, returned, now with stage 3 cancer that he realized was a blessing, and made his first confession in many years, receiving the love of Christ.

Near the end of the day, an old man, a Hindu who had stood observing us for some time, approached one of the missionaries and summarized simply, "although I´m a Hindu, I support what you are doing.  I can see the genuine love and joy you have for the strangers you meet, and they can too. You are making the world a better place."

I´m so happy I could scream!

The impact of the kids out in the byways of the parish, stirring the Spirit in the souls of many, was felt strongly. Too many tales to tell. The confession lines at times were six deep. We had at least two examples of people who felt the call to join the church. One, Victoria, promised us we´ll see her being baptized at the Easter Vigil Mass this spring. Another, TJ, walked back to corner from several blocks away and said, "You know, I turned down that rosary you´re holding because I´m not Catholic. But I really need a community of faith. Can I have a rosary? Will you take me in?"

In the evening, two men emerged from the Church, beaming. The larger one came over to us and began hugging us, shouting, "I´m so happy I could scream!" He said he´d been carrying sins around with him for 25 years that were now forgiven; he said, "I feel like I just lost 50 lbs!" "What happened, John?" we asked. John said, "That wonderful young woman you have in front of the Church got me! I had no plans at all to go to confession, especially after 25 years. But she was so engaging, so loving, she finally talked me into it. I wish I knew her name." "That was Grace," we replied. "That´s it!" John said. "Grace sent me! I was delivered by Grace!"

The world needs more people like you!

Today our little band was overjoyed by the arrival of Father Shane and his troop of teens from Saint Peter´s parish in Yonkers. Amazing young people! These young people stayed at their posts through the long afternoon, smiling joyfully and witnessing to the neighborhood that the Lord is still with us all. The young missionaries had several encounters with atheists, who in general seemed off balance in the face of our joyful youths; some asked to take their pictures with them...        

Someone at the abortion clinic across the street from one of our stations tried to intimidate the teens, but ended up backing down themselves instead. Another self-declared atheist walked off quizzically into the darkness after one of the youth explained to him that the picture on his shirt was the Virgin Mary, and like it or not, she was protecting him. Another told them, "You´re wasting your time here! What are you doing this for?", then finally admitted, "Good answer" when told, "We are doing it out of love for the Lord, and out of love for you." Can you believe these kids?

They also had many supportive encounters. They worked a long time on one troubled young man who said he "was really hurting" and "had done many bad things." He eventually headed in the direction of the church after the kids convinced him that the Lord is ready to forgive all, if he just comes back freely to Him. In another case, a woman who´d said she wasn´t Catholic, after reflecting on what she´d said, came back to the corner and told the teens, "I can´t deny my faith. Your witness is too powerful. I am Catholic."

Another, walking with a group of non-Catholic friends, cried out from the darkness, "I´m surrounded by atheists!" The kids surrounded her instead, and convinced her to go for reconciliation. Another person, after watching the teens at work, came over to them and said, "I´m not a Christian, but I´m amazed at what you´re doing. The world needs more people like you." Another, saying she was not a Catholic, asked for a rosary to pray on; she said she is considering conversion because she "wants to feel blessed."






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