You might say it’s the new evangelization meets the old evangelization.
Two Sisters of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate came knocking at SS. Simon and Jude Parish, West Chester, on Oct. 5 to give a presentation on old-fashioned evangelization — door to door visitation — through a “Door-to-Door Evangelization Workshop.”
They are experts in this, because that is precisely the ministry for which they were founded.
Established in New York by Mother Mary Teresa Tallon in 1920, they have been ringing doorbells and knocking on doors ever since. They must be effective because recently a cause for canonization opened in New York for Mother Mary Teresa.
They are a small congregation with about 60 members in the U.S., Nigeria and the Philippines. In addition to their home visitations, they promote the ministry to the laity, which is why Mother Carole Marie Troskowski and Sister Carmen Rivera were at SS. Simon and Jude to give presentations in English and Spanish.
“We want to reach Catholics, active and inactive, to be sharers of the Gospel, give an invitation to the unchurched and spread good will to everyone,” Mother Carole Marie said.
(Learn more about door-to-door ministry at the sisters’ website.)
When sisters in traditional habit come knocking they almost always receive respectful treatment, regardless of whether the people are practicing Catholics or not. But there is something to be said for lay ministers doing the work too, “because they are just like the people who open the door,” she said.
There were approximately 50 representatives of about 20 parishes at the Oct. 5 presentation, according to Meghan Cokeley of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for the New Evangelization.
Charles Alvarez, secretary for evangelization at Assumption B.V.M. Parish, West Grove, represented his parish and was impressed with Mother Carole Marie’s presentation.
Right now his parish is working on a program where individuals personally contact people they know who have drifted away from the faith, whether it be family members, neighbors or friends. “We have to get parishioners involved to spread the word,” he said.
Jerry St. Clair of St. John Chrysostom Parish, Wallingford, said that while his parish does not have an active visitation program at this time, there was a lot of inspiration and good ideas shared at the workshop. “I see it as lay and religious living out their vocations,” he said.
A convert to Catholicism himself, he brings a convert’s enthusiasm to the table and has already applied some of the principles in his own life. “Being welcoming and reaching out is a huge part of being Catholic,” he said. “I’m happy to do so.”
“I thought it was a very good presentation, said Sister of St. Joseph Mary Catherine Manley, who is in ministry at Our Lady of Hope Parish, Philadelphia. “Mother Carole Marie was very calm, very knowledgeable. The people I brought with me were on fire with Jesus in their heart, very enthusiastic,” she said.
Our Lady of Hope Parish has done door-to-door ministry in the past, and from Sister Mary Catherine’s experience, “You have to be in it for the long haul, you can’t expect instant results.”
Reinaldo Pacheco, a member of St. Agnes Parish in West Chester, thought the workshop was very practical because it explained how to do door-to-door evangelization step by step.
“Our pastor, Father Alfonso Concha, was able to attend the first two hours,” Pacheco said. “He is going to form a committee and we are going to train other people. I recommend (it) to anybody who wants to evangelize.”
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