|One of the objectives of missions is to invite people back to church and confession.|
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.)
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
Tomorrow´s forecast: sun.
"He´s trying to bring back Adam."
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
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!"
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...
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
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."
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."