“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matt 28:19-20).”
All that St. Francis taught us to do was inspired by the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and is inspired by the Gospel to this very day. Our work of evangelization is a response to Christ’s call and the Church’s missionary appeal– “to preach Christ, and the good news of salvation” as Bl. John Paul II was fond of saying.
St. Francis gave us the “Franciscan Motto” for evangelization: “Preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words.” St. Francis was not telling us to remain silent. He was telling the friars and sisters of yesterday and today that what matters most is the witness of our lives, striving to live, serve and love as Jesus did.
We carry out the work of evangelization through preaching parish missions and retreat work. We place an emphasis on Eucharistic-centered retreats and preaching. We also strive to present the treasures of our Faith, including teachings on prayer, the Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other Sacraments. Bl. John Paul II often said that we don’t need new teachings, we need reminders. Today more than ever, we need to remind God’s people of His love and mercy and the treasures that await them in the Catholic Church.
We frequently host service immersion trips for college students and other mission trips for youth and adult groups throughout the year. This gives us an opportunity to share our work of serving the poor and evangelization with those who come to assist us, and provides our volunteers with opportunities to deepen their own relationships with the Lord.
The summer months provide a great opportunity to reach the youth in our neighborhood through Bible Camps and Youth Nights. At our Youth Nights we close off our block and play soccer and other sports, concluding the evening with Scripture, a short witness talk, praise songs and ice cream, hot dogs, or sometimes even pizza!
We also host block parties for our neighborhood during the summer months, providing a safe space for the community to come together to share friendship, food and the gift of our faith. These are just some ways that we carry out the work of evangelization as Franciscans of the Eucharist.
St. Francis taught us that the Lord will work most powerfully through us when we strive to live a simple, humble, authentic Christian witness. Only then will our words ever mean anything. The first way we evangelize is by example, and from there, we are able to carry out the other works entrusted to us through God’s grace.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ St. Francis