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Turn to Jesus (Article)

An Experience of Evangelization
The Holy Week missions in the United States and Canada were an experience of giving God.

Miami missions
Missionaries in Miami with Cecile Martin, a consecrated woman.

April 21, 2009. Each year, the Holy Week missions draw youth and families out of their comfort zone and onto the streets to personally invite souls back to the Church and to Christ. This year, a total of 1,289 missionaries—both youth and families— carried out their work of evangelization in Calgary, Miami, New York, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, and San Jose with Mission Youth.

Their work consisted in going door-to-door to invite people to the liturgical celebrations at the local parishes, engaging people in conversation about faith, and serving as a visible reminder of God on the streets. They also organized games and faith-formation activities for children and visited the homebound and the elderly.

Glimpses of grace

Along the way, the missionaries witnessed moments of grace in the people they served.

In Chicago, one of the people the missionaries met on their door-to-door mission told them that he had abandoned Christianity in favor of environmentalism. “I don’t believe in God,” he said.  “I believe in the earth.” As the missionaries engaged him in conversation, they could see that he had a good heart and that he was not entirely closed in his opinions. After a long discussion, he agreed to try praying,
gainesville missions
Missionaries in the trailer park in Gainesville, GA with Father Emilio Díaz Torre, LC.
and gave his word to say a little prayer to God every day for two weeks.

In Atlanta, a missionary family spent some time talking to a 17-year-old girl who is not Catholic. In conversation, the girl shared that she had been thinking about coming into the Church, but that her mother was opposed. As they talked, she asked question after question about the Catholic faith, about Mary, the sacrament of confession, and more. In a gentle way, the missionaries answered her question, and the conversation went so well that they invited her to the Good Friday service that night. The girl wanted to go but had no means of transportation, so the family invited her to come along with them, even though they had not been planning on attending that service. The girl got permission from her mother to come, so the family took her to St Brigid’s parish, where she approached Deacon Leo Gahaffer and asked him if she could go to confession to be cleansed of her sins. He explained that he could not yet refer her to a priest for confession since she was not yet Catholic, but was able to speak to her more about
phoenix missions
Missionaries in Phoenix set out for their door-to-door visits.
her interest in joining the Church.

At the trailer park in Gainesville, Georgia, one missionary saw an old man crying tears of joy after emerging from the confessional. It had been years since he had been in the grace of God.

During the door-to-door missions in San José, a woman slammed the door on the missionaries, who then went on their way in peace. The next day, she saw the missionaries again and was disarmed by their non-threatening and welcoming attitude. She approached them and apologized, and then prayed with them. It turned out that this woman had recently discovered that she might have cancer, and her encounter with the missionaries gave her an opportunity to turn to God in her struggles.

The missions are also an opportunity to offer consolation and a listening ear. In Chicago, the missionaries met a woman who hadn’t been to church in two years. Her son had died at the age of one month, because he had been born very premature. As the woman told her story, the young women missionaries felt a special bond with her, and realized that the very act of listening is a way of giving God.

“We talked to her and I think we really changed her life in some way,” said one of the young women. “I will never forget her.”

There were also Jehovah’s Witnesses out on the street in Chicago, doing their own form of door-to-door missions. The missionaries approached them to share the Catholic faith and discovered that they
atlanta missions
Families and youth joined together in the missions.
had many misconceptions about Catholicism. “I think seeing a group of young girls who really knew, shared, and lived their faith changed their perspective,” said one of the missionaries.

The missionaries worked with all ages, from the little children who participated in their K4J activities to the elderly in nursing homes.

After spending time at a nursing home in Chicago, one of the missionaries said, “They had such simple and deep faith that it was an inspiration to me. They could barely remember what they had been doing five minutes ago, but they knew that they loved Christ. They knew the miracle of the Eucharist and were so grateful for the sacraments.”

An Atlanta missionary had a similar experience. “At the nursing home, I was able to really connect with the people I met, even though they were suffering from dementia. They just enjoyed my presence and holding my hand,” she said.

The missionaries also learned from the fervor and faith of the parishes they served. In Miami, the young men on missions were deeply impressed by Father Omar, the parish priest at St Robert Bellarmine. Not only did he preach the best homilies they had ever heard, but he also gave an outstanding witness of fervor and fortitude. He celebrated all of the Holy Week and Easter liturgies, some of which were 3 hours long—he chanted the major parts of the Mass—and then went in for cancer surgery on Tuesday morning after Easter. The boys observed that he never once complained, and
Giving witness on the streets of San Jose.
they also noted that his homilies were rich in spiritual depth, full of personal cases and imbued with a spirit of humility.

Letting Christ work

As the missionaries go on missions year after year, they find themselves growing through the apostolate and learning to let God work through them. Along the way, there is also the experience of joy that follows self-giving.

“This time I really felt that I finally allowed Christ to work through me, and was able to spend more time listening to the needs of others, especially of the teenagers. I´m also GLAD that I had the opportunity to meet such a WONDERFUL PEOPLE during this missions and every time I think about this Holy Week missions it makes my heart truly happy and joyful!!” said one missionary.

“Remembering how good it felt to give of myself leaves me trying to help others and live selflessly more. It makes me remember that JOY means putting Jesus and Others before Yourself. Even when the feeling of ecstasy fades, the commitment of the will and that deep love for Christ and the Church remains,” said a missionary from Chicago.

To view photo galleries and videos of the missions, and to get more information about upcoming missions in the US and in Mexico, visit the Mission Youth web site at



Related links

Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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