Outreach effects still being felt
Parishes continue to evangelize after major effort of last fall
Last in a series on the annual Bishop's Appeal
By Nancy Vande Hey
"Catholics need to know its OK to step up and say, 'I love God! I
love Jesus!'" says Meghan Fawcett, a member of the diocesan
evangelization committee and a member of St. Willebrord Parish,
Fawcett says the committee that planned last November's Operation
Outreach for the diocese, hopes Catholics will continue to
explore the treasures of their faith and share what they learn
Through funds raised by the annual Bishop's Appeal, the committee
produced professional brochures and support materials used by
parishes throughout the diocese in Operation Outreach. Many
people went door-to-door with the brochures, which described some
of the treasures of the Catholic faith.
Parishes could also include information specific to their parish,
such as Mass times, community services, and phone numbers. The
diocese also provided sample blessings, intercessions to use at
Masses before Operation Outreach day, and training materials to
help make the event successful.
Many parishes could not reach everyone in one day and plan to
continue Operation Outreach this year.
Pat Niles of St. Thomas More Parish, Appleton, and also an
evangelization committee member, says her pastor, Fr. Gerald
Faulk, had an excellent insight when he told her that this
outreach is just a first stage.
"'People will begin to do this on their own,' he told me. In the
next two years we will see how people have really responded to
this challenge," Niles says.
She says that because the other Appleton parishes chose not to go
door-to-door with Operation Outreach brochures, 60 volunteers at
St. Thomas More are trying to cover most of Appleton.
Niles says they plan to continue delivering the brochures this
spring until they're satisfied they've reached as many people as
is practical, as a way to let their neighbors know, "We're here
if you need us."
One benefit of Operation Outreach is the spiritual effect it
continues to have on people, Niles says. It pushes Catholics to
look at their faith with a new appreciation and to share it with
"Did people get touched? Did they take a risk and step out?"
Niles asks. "I think we have to say, 'Yes.' "
At St. Luke and St. Mark parishes in Two Rivers, parishioners did
not go door-to-door but each parishioner received a brochure that
they could keep or pass along.
Parishioners also gave the parish names of people they thought
might be interested in receiving a brochure.
Sr. Dorothy Wagner, who coordinated the outreach for the two
parishes, says this spring a team of volunteers will continue to
deliver brochures to the people on that list.
"It is difficult to know how the recipients of the brochures have
been touched," Sr. Wagner says, "but many did express gratitude
One ongoing benefit of Operation Outreach is the willingness of
volunteers to take a risk, she says. Some volunteers who helped
distribute the brochures last fall thought it would be so hard,
she says, "But many had a wonderful time and located some people
who could really use our services."
While not every parish in the diocese participated in the day,
and the way parishes participated varied widely, organizers say
it was a good first step in teaching Catholics how to evangelize.
Fawcett says the diocesan committee wants everyone to understand
the purpose of Operation Outreach is evangelization - proclaiming
your faith and inviting others to investigate it - not
proselytism - trying to convert someone from another faith to
yours because you insist that your faith is the right one.
Niles and Fawcett both say that through Baptism, Christians have
a duty to reach out and share the Gospel. Fawcett, says people
can maintain the spirit of Operation Outreach and evangelize in
simple ways - wearing a cross, speaking kindly to others, praying
before eating a meal in public.
"There is nothing wrong with evangelizing," says Fawcett, who is
an adult convert to Catholicism. "It means to lead by example and
share the Gospel by making it an important part of your life."