Thursday, November 12, 2015

Life Lessons Through Faith and Family

Editor's Note: We're excited to share this beautiful reflection from mom and Spirit Mornings co-host Jen Brown. Jen wrote this piece for her parish blog.

Life Lessons Through Faith and Family

Psalms 18:2: "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

This is the first time the parish has featured a blog from the point of view of a parishioner. And this is the first time I have ever done a blog ... so you, dear reader, get to ride along for many firsts today. Please bear with me.

Some people will be able to relate to this blog as a parent; others as a single mother of a son.

Most of you might know that I walk with a cane and wear a brace on my right ankle. I was in a terrible motorcycle accident 16 years ago that took the life of my brother and left me with some permanent damage. As a result, my son and I always sit in the four south side floating pews, behind the altar servers, at Queen of Apostles Corpus Christi. This way I can get to Communion and back with ease.

My mother taught me something very important growing up at Mass: we always sat within the first few pews because kids pay closer attention when you're in the front. When I began going to Mass at Queens, I was drawn to the Children's Liturgy of the Word and this little section of the pews where I thought my son Jackson would pay attention. I could always point out what the priest was doing and the important parts of the Mass from where we were sitting.  A parishioner told me this year as my son was getting ready to go off to college that she remembered him as a little boy, sitting there, mouthing along with the priest during the consecration prayers. I thought I was the only one who noticed that! He did pay attention sitting in front.

Another lesson from my mother was to get involved at your parish. Do outreach things because it’s good for others and for you, she said. I didn’t understand this when I was young but as an adult and a mother, at my new parish, it made so much sense. Children’s Liturgy of the Word was something so special to be involved in because Jackson and I could do it together. He helped me prepare the day before, doing the required shopping or putting a skit together. He also got to carry up the book we used in the Mass procession.  For a 5 year old, this was tops! As he grew, Jackson took on bigger roles as he helped me with the children’s liturgy. And as a single parent, if I volunteered to help with something at the parish that usually meant that he was helping too. I hope this idea of "serving others serves you" will translate in his adult years like it did for me. My little boy grew into a fine young man who became a lector at our parish and a Eucharistic minister at his school, St. Albert. I once heard him tell the bishop during an interview what a privilege it is to be an EME and deliver Jesus to others.

Being the parent of a very active youngster, and being an active individual myself, there were also times of great difficulty, when I didn't quite make the right decisions or put my faith first. But prayer was always a way to help ground us both. I tried very hard to end every day with prayer together and start meals with prayer. We were even on the rotation to get the chalice for vocations. Jackson thought that was pretty cool. He had the vocations prayer memorized.

As parents, we can encourage our children's prayer lives to grow in many different ways. We can tell them about different retreats, have them be a part of different ministry groups at school or the parish, and give them gifts that will oriented them in a prayer life. These were all easy things to do when my son was under my roof, and I had him under my protective arms. But this year he graduated and is headed out into the world. I no longer know where he was on a regular basis. I no longer get to pray with him every night. At times I wonder if I did enough or said enough or taught him enough.

During one very tearful spiritual direction session, I was reminded that someone loves my son more than me: our Lord, who sacrificed everything for all of us.

Jackson has been away at college now since June. He got a scholarship to play football at the University of Northern Iowa, and had to be up there early to start working out with the team. It has been hard to go to Mass by myself, to say the Our Father and not hold my little boy's hand. It's hard to trust that the Guardian Angel Prayer that I say sometimes on an hourly basis will get me through to the next moment. But I do it because it DOES. My faith always pulls me through.

My lifetime has been blessed many times over. As parents, children are one of the greatest blessings we get.

I will end with a prideful (indulgent) tale. A lot of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and prayers culminated this month on Sept. 5 when the University of Northern Iowa played at Iowa State. It was Jackson's first game as a Panther. I had barely made it to my seat to watch him (red shirt freshman) and his teammates run on the field. He ran with them to the end zone, where they kneeled down and prayed. When they were finished, Jackson stood up and made the Sign of the Cross, and I thought my heart might burst - not for pride of his accomplishment as a football player, but for the pride of the love of the Father, whose love had carried us through one more day.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remembering Monsignor Peter Dunne

This post is being shared with permission from our friend Cullen Herout, blogger at Ready to Stand.
Monsignor Peter Dunne
“Jesus Christ is Lord!”
I can still hear the booming voice echoing through Dowd Chapel on the campus of Boys Town in Omaha, NE. The voice was unmistakable in its passion and its clarity, and for many years, was a mainstay in my experience of attending Mass.
Every once in awhile, the world is graced with a priest who is so holy, so reverent, and so in love with the Eucharist that his whole life becomes a witness to the love God has for the world.
For the last twenty years, I have had the privilege of knowing such a priest. Monsignor Peter Dunne passed away on October 8th, 2015, after serving the Archdiocese of Omaha for over seven decades. My mother was his caregiver for the final twenty years of his life, making sure that he was able to serve as a priest in the fullest capacity for as long as he could.
My memories of Monsignor Dunne go back to when I was in middle school. He said the 11:40 Mass every day over the summer at Boys Town’s Dowd Chapel. Since I enjoyed being an altar server, I approached and asked if I could serve as the daily altar server for his Masses over the summer. I considered it a great honor to be able to assist him during Mass every day. It was there that I first noticed his devotional love of the Eucharist, his passion for preaching, his unrelenting faith, and his love for the children of God.
I began going to Confession with him on a regular basis. As a young teenager, my experience was characterized by the sheepish feeling of always having to confess the same sins, but even then I remember the understanding and gentleness with which he heard confessions. He was always tough on me, calling me to something greater. He didn’t sugarcoat sin as so many do nowadays. He reminded me how selfish sin is, but I never left that confessional confused about how much Christ loved me. The confession always ended with, “Keep up the good work, you’re doing a great job”. How he managed to be tough on me, remind me of the selfishness of my sin, and show me how much Christ loved me all at the same time, I may never know.
There is a plaque that sits on a shelf in his now-empty apartment. There are two pictures juxtaposed alongside each other: one of him as a young priest, and one of him as an older priest. The caption reads, “Uncompromising Faith, Legendary Love”. This caption sums up what it was like to know Monsignor Dunne, and probably answers the question about how he conveyed what he did during the sacrament of Confession.
203As the years passed, his health gradually declined. At Mass, his homilies became repetitive, but somehow people did not seem to tire of hearing the messages he continued to drive home. Each of his regular listeners could undoubtedly repeat the beginning of the Baltimore Catechism: “Who made you? God. Why? To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world so as to be happy with him forever in the next”. And in that booming voice:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and the second commandment is like it…”.  He continually told us, “forgive, forgive, forgive.”  And, in his last months, every conversation and prayer ended with, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.”
In 2011, at the age of 92, with the advent of the new Roman Missal and his eyesight having deteriorated to the point that he could not read the new prayers, Monsignor Dunne had to discontinue his Masses in public.  His archbishop dispensed him from the new missal and gave him permission to continue celebrating the old Mass in private which he did up to the last month of his life.
Over a period of several years, my mother would host a brunch each Sunday at noon, and occasionally I would stop in for this. Eventually Monsignor Dunne, unable to see or hear very well, could no longer join in our conversations over brunch. Health scares came and went until finally one came and claimed his life. He died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, and I have little doubt his soul went straight from his deathbed into the arms of Christ.
Monsignor Dunne has now passed on from this life and is probably partying all day, every day in Heaven. During the funeral proceedings, which seemed much more like a celebration than a funeral, the Archbishop made a few comments, musing about how fun it might be to think about all the lives Monsignor Dunne had touched in his 71 years as a priest. I am certainly among those lives that he touched, and so here are a few aphorisms that will forever be etched into my memories of Monsignor Peter Dunne.

“He is Lord of all or not at all.”

This is perhaps my favorite of all his adages. He was always quick to remind his audience that “Heaven is all the way to Heaven now and hell is all the way to hell now”. He taught that our lives should be a complete and humble acceptance of God’s will and that, by doing so or not doing so, we can taste Heaven or hell even now . He did not shy away from reminding us that hell is real, and we can choose to go there. He fought against the complacency that comes when we forget that our eternal souls are on the line in the way we live our lives. He had a real live passion for encouraging people to place Christ at the center of their lives, and that there is no way to “half-serve” Christ or be a “part-time” Christian.
This truth calls us to leave our sin behind and fully embrace Christ as our Lord and Savior. It calls us to consistently seek repentance for our wrongs and place them at the foot of the cross. In a world consumed by relativism and selfism, this is a jarring sentiment that demands a response on the part of the believer. And as the adage implies, the response has eternal consequences.

“There is no happiness in sin; it is a contradiction in terms.”

This is self-evident, as it is universally known through our experiences. In all my time knowing Monsignor Dunne, he constantly preached virtue and encouraged me to turn away from sin. Of course he knew that this was easier said than done, but he always reminded me of the unhappiness and sorrow that comes from living a life incongruent with that to which Christ calls us.
This is a truth that resonates so deeply in humanity, but yet somehow is widely either vilified or denied. Relativism has attempted to erase any shred of objective morality, but Truth still calls to us. The scars of humanity reveal the truth of this statement. Monsignor Dunne constantly reminded me and others that no matter how appealing sin might seem on the surface, it cannot and will not ever lead to joy. Over the years, I came to understand the truth contained within this idea, and this understanding continues to guide the decisions I make in my life every day.

“It’s all about relationships.”

Monsignor Dunne was quick to preach forgiveness. He understood that our relationships with one another are where we find happiness, and that those same relationships can be reflections of the joy we experience in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. No relationship is perfect, and every relationship finds the need for forgiveness cropping up with relative frequency. He recognized this and encouraged forgiveness at every opportunity.
Conversely, Monsignor Dunne also saw the bitterness that came with unforgiveness. The resentment that persons hold onto can become toxic, and eventually leads to isolation, depression, despair, and hopelessness. These, in turn, lead to broken families, destroyed marriages, and children caught in the middle of the parents’ mess. He understood that forgivenesses is of paramount importance in the home and in our daily lives.
Another aspect of this is the idea of sacrifice. He taught that sacrifice brought joy, and it is through giving that we receive. He understood the importance of sacrifice for married persons, for parents, and for children. He knew that selfishness breeds sin, and again, there can be no happiness in sin. The call to sacrifice is one that has stayed with me for many years, and one that continues to serve me well in my marriage and with my children.
These are just a few of the lessons that I will always remember from Monsignor Dunne. I could easily go on. While they are great lessons and ideas, the truth is that they would be far less impressive if they were not a direct and authentic reflection of the way the man lived his life as a priest. He was quick to forgive, quick to sacrifice, quick to call people out of sin and encourage them toward virtue. He quite literally lived out his deep love for the Eucharist in the relationships he had with the people who surrounded him. He practiced gratitude as a way of life and was as kind and thoughtful as he was passionate and unrelenting in his faith.
He is a man who will be mourned and missed by many. His legacy is a legacy of love, and those who knew him can tell stories of his abounding kindness, generosity, humor, and humility. He never sought to be recognized by this world, but made it the point of his life to be recognized by Christ. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and when younger, he could often be found pacing the aisles at the chapel praying the rosary.
Though Monsignor Dunne has passed on from this life, we still have the memories and the wisdom that he passed along to us. No matter what happens or where this life continues to take me, I will forever be able to hear that booming voice:
“Jesus Christ is Lord!”  Now and forever.
This post originally appeared at Catholic Stand.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Ways to Stay Spiritual This Christmas

Editor's note: The following was originally published in Fr. Mike Schmitz's column in the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church bulletin. Fr. Schmitz is the pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Crofton and St. Andrew in Bloomfield. Both parishes are in the Spirit 88.3-FM listening area. Thank you to Fr. Schmitz for allowing us to blog his column. 

From the Desk of Fr. Mike Schmitz
Did you know that a person should receive only three gifts at Christmas? Why? Jesus received only three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Therefore, we should only give three gifts to a person this Christmas. 

Remember, spiritual bouquets are wonderful gift items, too. Some other ideas would be spending more time in prayer, attend daily Mass, pray an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament at your parish, visit the sick on a regular basis, etc. 

Let us make this Christmas a great and holy one for all. Pray, pray, pray!

Three Ways to Stay Spiritual This Christmas
From Schmitz, via ePriest.

The difficult situation of the economy this year provides us with an excellent opportunity to purify our expectations. Instead of focusing too much on the passing joys of material things, it almost forces us to focus more on the deeper, longer-lasting joys of spiritual things. We can do that in three ways.

First, we can make sure that the gifts we plan to give to other people this Christmas are meaningful. Meaningful doesn't necessarily mean expensive. It means helpful for living a meaningful life, helpful because it reminds the other person that they are loved, that in God's eyes, and in ours, they matter.

Second, we can make sure that among all the hopes of this Advent season, our biggest hope comes from knowing that on Christmas, here in this church, during the sacred liturgy, which is always so beautiful on Christmas, Jesus himself will come once again into our souls in a special way, bringing us the priceless gift of his grace. That is the gift we should most look forward to receiving.

Third, we can make sure that on Christmas we don't come to Christ empty-handed. He is our King and our Lord, our Creator and our Savior, and Christmas is his birthday. What gift would please him most? A new commitment to prayer or service? Having broken, with his help, a selfish, sinful habit? Having reconciled a relationship? Having shared the faith with someone new? Saying yes to that thing he has been asking me for so long that I keep saying no to? In the remaining days of Advent, let's talk to Jesus and Mary about what Christ wants this year for his birthday. Focusing on him more than us will help make sure that wrong expectations don't cut us off from the flow of his grace. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Doctors of the Church

Tony and Judy Fulton and their children,
back row from left, Bede, Thomas, Augustine,
front row from left, Bernadette, Leo, Ambrose and Basil
When Tony and Judy Fulton of Lincoln were newly married, they decided to name their future sons after Doctors of the Church.

“We wanted to provide for them specific examples to emulate,” Tony said. “We also recognized that each child would have a powerful intercessor watching over and praying for him throughout his life.”  

And they have kept that commitment.

The Fultons have six sons – twins Thomas and Augustine, Bede, Basil, Leo and Ambrose.

The Doctors of the Church are great saints recognized by the pope for their outstanding contribution to the understanding and interpretation of Sacred Scriptures and the development of Christian doctrine.

Last month and again this month, the church celebrates the feast of five Doctors of the Church – St. Bernard (Aug. 20), St. Augustine (Aug. 28), St. Gregory the Great (Sept. 3), St. John Chrysostom (Sept. 13) and St. Jerome (Sept. 30).

Tony said he and Judy also wanted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in their marriage and life, so they chose to name their daughters after her.  

“As it is, Mary Bernadette is our only girl, and she has the most blessed of all saints to watch over and pray for her through life,” he said. “Were we to have more girls, they would have Mary as their first name.”

Each day the Fultons pray the rosary and close with a request to each of their namesakes to pray for them.  They also celebrate their children’s feast days – though depending on schedules and activities, some feast days end up with a little less fanfare than others, Tony said.

There are three requirements that must be fulfilled by a person to merit being included in the ranks of Doctors of the Church:
1.       Holiness that is truly outstanding, even among saints;
2.       depth of doctrinal insight; and
3.       an extensive body of writings that the church can recom­mend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition.

The original eight Doctors of the Church - four Western ( Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great and Jerome) and four Eastern (Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom) - were named by acclamation, or common acknowledgment; the rest have been named by various popes, starting with the addition of St. Thomas Aquinas to the list by Pope Pius V in 1568, when he promulgated the Tridentine Latin Mass.

In the 20th century, three female saints – Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux - were added to the list. A fourth, St. Hildegard of Bingen, was added by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, when he also added St. John of Avila to the list.

As of 2014, there are 35 officially recognized Doctors of the Church.

The following is a list of all 35 and who named them Doctors of the Church.

St. Albertus Magnus (1200-80)
Added by Pope Pius XI in 1931

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
Added by Pope Pius IX in 1871

St. Ambrose (340-97)
One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church

St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
Added by Pope Clement XI in 1720

St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)
Added by Pope Pius XII in 1946

St. Athanasius (297-373)
One of the original four Doctors of the Eastern Church

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church

St. Basil the Great (329-379)
One of the original four Doctors of the Eastern Church

The Venerable Bede (673-735)
Added by Pope Leo XIII in 1899

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Added by Pope Pius VIII in 1830

St. Bonaventure (1217-74)
Added by Pope Sixtus V in 1588

St. Catherine of Siena (1347-80)
Added by Pope Paul VI in 1970

St. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)
Added by Pope Leo XIII in 1883

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-87)
Added by Pope Leo XIII in 1883

St. Ephrem the Syrian (306-73)
Added by Pope Benedict XV in 1920

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Added by Pope Pius IX in 1877

St. Gregory the Great (540-604)
One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church

St. Gregory Nazianzen (330-90)
One of the original four Doctors of the Eastern Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-68)
Added by Pope Pius IX in 1851

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Added by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012

St. Isidore of Seville (560-636)
Added by Pope Innocent XIII in 1722

St. Jerome (343-420)
One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church

St. John Chrysostom (347-407)
One of the original four Doctors of the Eastern Church

St. John Damascene (675-749)
Added by Pope Leo XIII in 1883

St. John of Avila (1500-69)
Added by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012

St. John of the Cross (1542-91)
Added by Pope Pius XI in 1926

St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)
Added by Pope John XXIII in 1959

St. Leo the Great (400-61)
Added by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754

St. Peter Canisius (1521-97)
Added by Pope Pius XI in 1925 

St. Peter Chrysologus (400-50)
Added by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729

St. Peter Damian (1007-72)
Added by Pope Leo XII in 1828

St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)
Added by Pope Pius XI in 1931

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82)
Added by Pope Paul VI in 1970

St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-97)
Added by Pope John Paul II in 1997

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74)
Added by Pope Pius V in 1568

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer internship reflection

The following blog was written by our summer intern, Dan Bost, a senior this year at Creighton University in Omaha. 
Spirit Catholic Radio summer intern Dan Bost
“I think that the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” 

These words, spoken decades ago by the late academic and author Leo Rosten, provide an accurate description of my state of mind last spring as I struggled to determine what I wanted to do with my summer – the summer before my senior year of college. You see, I have spent all previous summers doing work that provided little more than monetary gain. I have been a typist at a bank, a “runner” for a top-producing realtor, and a “manny” (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a male nanny). As I thought about what I wanted to do this summer, I realized that – at the ripe age of 21 – I was standing on the threshold of adulthood. I made the decision, then, that I should do something that would not only cultivate the growth of my academic interests, but also cater to my still-developing spirituality. I became resolved to find a summer position that would enable me to be useful to both myself and others, to make some sort of difference. 

As a student who studies both English and theology, I had recently discovered that writing about matters of faith and theological issues is one of my favorite things to do. In a recent church history course, I wrote a research paper about the influence of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago from 1982-1996. I discussed his life as the shepherd of the third-largest archdiocese in the United States, his determination to implement the directives of the Second Vatican Council, and the many reform initiatives he enacted in a broken archdiocese.  And I loved it. I got a good grade. I was proud of myself. 

Thus, I e-mailed the paper to The Catholic Voice, which is the bi-weekly local Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha. I asked them to read my paper as an example of my writing style and to consider me for a summer internship or freelance position. Unfortunately, the publication did not have any opportunities for me – but they did advise me to contact Spirit Catholic Radio. For this referral I will remain forever grateful. 

I contacted the volunteer coordinator at Spirit Catholic Radio, who invited me to come in for an informal interview and discussion. She explained that, at the station, there is a little bit of something for everyone. I could simply file and organize, if I wanted to. Or, if I wanted to do something I was really interested in, I could use the volunteer service as an internship of sorts.  My time at the station could become an opportunity for me to hone my writing skills; Spirit Catholic Radio could be a place wherein I could uncover, study and become involved with the intersection of theological issues and the written word. After I filled out an application and spoke with the employees I would be working for, my stint as an intern at Spirit Catholic Radio commenced. 

My main obligation would be writing news stories about Catholic issues and incidents that would be read on the air. I would also write questions and answers for a radio segment titled “Why Do Catholics Do That?” Additionally, while I was writing, I would perform a few more mundane tasks like converting tapes to digital form, making copies of segments that listeners had requested, and organizing folders – all of which I was more than happy to do. Each and every day, my superiors asked me if I was interested in what I was supposed to do. Was I willing to do a said task? Did it interest me? Was it what I wanted? The people I met could not have been more caring, kind or thoughtful – always trying to make sure I was pleased and contented. I have never worked for such grace-filled individuals before, and their generous, faithful attitudes toward me have made all the difference. 

Even though the work I did was undoubtedly meaningful and helpful in fostering the process of my academic and spiritual growth, I soon reached the conclusion that the lasting effects of my summer internship would have little to do with my plethora of writings. Rather, what I will remember in coming years is the people I worked with. Every day I walked in, I was greeted with a smile. Working amongst a community of like-minded individuals was a new type of experience for me. There are virtually no disagreements among employees; their sense of camaraderie is contagious. There are none of those stereotypical office rifts and rivalries. Towards the beginning of my tenure at Spirit Catholic Radio, I was invited to begin the day with Mass and a blessing of the offices. With this event, I realized that here, because of the unwavering faith of all of the employees – their determination to let the Holy Spirit influence all of their work and how they treat each other – the type of work environment is different. It is counter-cultural, but in a good way. The Holy Spirit has placed a desire in the heart of each staff member of Spirit Catholic Radio; guided by His grace, they set out in solidarity to spread the Good News, to change the world one broadcast at a time. 

In conclusion, as my time here culminates, I wish to urge any coming-of-age Catholic, male or female, to pursue a volunteer position at Spirit Catholic Radio. I guarantee you will not regret it.  My summer internship, like most, was unpaid. But that does not bother me – not in the least. Because even though I did not get a paycheck, I received some of the greatest gifts I could have ever asked for. I learned about the impact of Catholic radio in listeners’ lives. I developed my writing skills. I practiced my faith within the work environment, which is something not a lot of people can say. And perhaps most important, I met some people I will never forget. I set out last spring to find a meaningful summer work environment that would enable me to matter, to count, to stand for something. And I did. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. Paul Street Evangelization

St. Paul Street Evangelists Harold Blake, center, and Amber
Vinton speak with Josh Ferdico of Omaha Aug. 16 at
Lincoln's Haymarket Farmer's Market.
Photo by Lisa Maxson
Joe Keaschall arrived last Saturday, Aug. 16, at 9 a.m. at the Lincoln Haymarket Farmer’s Market not to shop or browse the booths, but to help spread God’s love.

He and three other members of Lincoln’s newly formed St. Paul Street Evangelization team stood near a street performer on the corner of 8th and P, ready to engage in conversation with passers-by about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

It’s something they’ve done every Saturday since the Farmer’s Market opened in May, and they’ll continue to do so this fall before Nebraska Cornhusker football games.

“The church has so much to offer and why not go out and share it with people,” Joe, a research scientist and member of St. Mary Parish in Denton, told Spirit Catholic Radio’s Lisa Maxson. “If you really love your faith, you need to share it, you need to share your love.”

The team’s interaction with others is non-confrontational and friendly. Oftentimes it begins by offering someone a rosary or Miraculous Medal or asking people what they think of Pope Francis, Joe said.

“Being out here isn’t something that comes natural to me, but I think if you pray about it and try not to do too much yourself and let the Holy Spirit work through you, it seems to work out,” he said.

On this particular morning, there are few personal encounters, but that doesn’t mean the seed of the Catholic faith isn’t being planted when people see them or the A-frame signs nearby that have pictures of Mary, Jesus or Pope Francis on them, said Wayne Ringer, founder of the local team and also a member of St. Mary Parish in Denton.

Joe Keaschall, right, and Wayne Ringer,
center, both St. Paul Street Evangelists,
talk with Patrick Tines of Lincoln
Aug. 16 at Lincoln's Haymarket Farmer's
Photo by Lisa Maxson
“You never know how the Holy Spirit works,” he said. “Think of how a company sells a product. They know they have to put their product in front of you 20 times before you’re going to buy it. So we may be the 12th time, the first time or the 20th time someone hears about Jesus or the Catholic Church. But it’s important to be that time because they all add up.”

This spring, Wayne learned about St. Paul Street Evangelization, which started in Michigan in 2012, through Facebook, and it reminded him of hearing Pope John Paul II’s call during World Youth Day in 1993 to evangelize on street corners and from the rooftops.

After talking with his pastor, Msgr. Mark Huber, and getting approval from Bishop James Conley, Wayne began recruiting members – many of them friends through the Denton parish and the Regnum Christi movement.

Currently there are more than 100 St. Paul Street Evangelization teams across the country. The Lincoln team has 12 active street evangelists and 30 more people committed to praying a weekly Holy Hour for the apostolate. Street evangelists also commit to a weekly Holy Hour.

The national apostolate provides on-line training resources, but anyone can become a street evangelist, said Wayne, owner of Ringer Roofing and Skylight in Lincoln. All Christians are called to evangelize because of their baptism and confirmation, he said.

“The best way to learn something is to teach it, so when you have to come up with answers or find the answers to questions, that helps you to internalize it and it helps you to spread your faith outside the parameters of this apostolate,” he said.

Mary Ringer kneels to talk with passers-by during Lincoln's
Haymarket Farmer's Market.
Courtesy photo
Amber Vinton, a stay-a-home mother of eight and member of St. Mary Parish in Denton, said being a street evangelist, making a weekly Holy Hour and talking openly with others about the Catholic faith have had positive impacts on her own faith.

“Just pausing in your life and taking the time to spend an hour in prayer in a quiet place is amazing what it can do to your spiritual life,” she said. “And conversing with people about God and how much he loves them makes you realize how much he loves you, too.”

Howard Blake, a member of the local team and of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Lincoln, became Catholic in 1997, and said he wants to share the joy he has found through the Catholic Church with others.

“I just want to bring as many people into the church as I can and maybe answer some questions people have,” he said.

Wayne’s wife, Mary, who wasn’t at the Haymarket last Saturday, said in an email to Spirit Catholic Radio that she initially thought an evangelist was someone who knew his or her Catholic faith really well and could quote Bible verses on the spot.

The St. Paul Street Evangelists hand out
rosaries, pamphlets, holy cards and
Miraculous Medals.
But that’s not entirely true, she said.

“People are more moved by my personal relationship with Christ and how he shows his love for me – the very love he wants to give to them if they open their hearts to him,” Mary said.

Wayne said he encourages lay people to get involved in the St. Paul Street Evangelization team in one of three ways – either as a street evangelist, prayer warrior or financial supporter.

As a street evangelist, one receives on-line training and commits to going out with another evangelist at least once a month and praying a weekly Holy Hour for the apostolate. Prayer warriors commit to praying the Evangelist’s Prayer every day and making a weekly Holy Hour. And because rosaries, literature, CDs, holy cards and other materials distributed on the street cost money, financial assistance is needed, Wayne said.

“We have a small group now, but we hope to grow,” he said.

The team will have an orientation gathering Saturday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at St. John XXIII in Lincoln.

For more information on St. Paul Street Evangelization, visit www.street To join the local team or to provide financial assistance, contact Wayne at 402-430-6972 or Mary at

Blogged by Lisa Maxson, senior writer/reporter.