By Dominique Johnson
In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis says, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.” Having experienced the love of God, Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parishioner, Patty Morgan, is taking the challenge to share the love of the Gospel with the people of Alaska.
Morgan recalled listening to a program on Ave Maria radio in 2013, where she first learned about St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE). She was attracted to the ministry because “It is not combative and non-confrontational.” The apostolate’s mission is to bring the news of Jesus to people by standing on the street and offering free rosaries or miraculous medals to those who walk by. The SPSE member doesn’t force a person to talk to them, but the offering of the rosary or medal sometimes leads to a conversation about faith.
Though it’s taken time for the ministry to get off the ground in Juneau, Morgan has taken small steps to share the faith. She started with those in the local parishes, “I handed out rosaries and Miraculous Medals to as many as people as I could meet. I put pamphlets and CD’s out in the back of the Catholic churches here in Juneau,” she said.
In an effort to formally organize the ministry in Southeast Alaska, Morgan attended a St. Paul Street Evangelization training this past spring in Detroit. She said Catholics think, “they need to know a lot about theology or apologetics to evangelize.”
However, when she arrived for the first day of training, the participants were directed to the streets, not a classroom. Her first thoughts were, “but we aren’t ready.”
Morgan, Ed, one of the SPSE leaders, and a priest, went to downtown Detroit with only a handful of rosaries and Miraculous Medals. Morgan said at first, she thought Ed was bold when he just started asking people who walked by if they wanted a rosary. As she began doing the same, Morgan saw how the simple question created a vehicle for conversation. She shared how a woman dressed in all purple came by, and Morgan asked her if she wanted a purple rosary. Making that connection to the color purple started a conversation and before the woman went on her way, “We prayed together. It was a blessing to me,” Morgan said.
One of the takeaways Morgan had from attending the SPSE training was how easy it is to share your faith and pray with others. She said there had been many times in the past where she has had conversations with people she knows who ask for prayers, but doesn’t pray for them right away. Now she says, “The Holy Spirit is drawing me to ask people if I can pray with them right now.”
“I believe that people need to know the love of Jesus,” Morgan said, “but how can they know, if no one tells them?” She encourages everyone to share their story with the people they meet, to build a relationship. Once those relationships and connections are made, then we can start sharing our faith.
Patty Morgan serves as the Regional Missionary for St. Paul Street Evangelization for the state of Alaska. If you are interested in joining her team in Juneau or starting a team at your parish, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-957-2000. You can also learn more about St. Paul Street Evangelization at streetevangelization.com.