Father Ignatius, FI – Sharing a Story of Evangelization
Story from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“I’ve been helping out at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI for the last couple of weeks and after having a very fruitful trip downtown with Fra Charbel to evangelize, it became clear that there was really no need to go downtown. Many of the people we spoke with had been to the Shrine, including atheists and non-Catholics. The Shrine receives around 70,000 pilgrims every year, and that number continues to grow. I guess I was presuming that everyone was Catholic or maybe just didn’t think it through. In any case, on Memorial Day, we had a good flow of people visiting and I simply stepped out the front door of the friary and set up in the middle of the piazza to evangelize. It was a unique situation. EVERY SINGLE PERSON, to whom I offered a Miraculous Medal, accepted it. Some probably accepted to be polite to the friar (they are visiting a Catholic Shrine after all). But what does that matter? They have Our Lady’s medal, which means Our Lady has them, at least in a minimal way. Actually, everyone who comes to this Shrine is, in a certain sense, called by Our Lady. It is a grace to visit this holy site, and She is the Mediatrix of All Graces, ergo…
There is another advantage in evangelizing at the Shrine. One woman I spoke with was Catholic and when I asked her which parish she went to and if she got to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, she said, honestly, that she did not. I asked if she would like to go to confession, as I handed her a Confession pamphlet. I said there is a priest in the church right now hearing confessions. She looked taken aback, a little surprised and caught off guard. I said yeah we hear confessions every day from 10:30am-12:15pm and then again after the 12:15pm Mass is over. Our Lady certainly intervened with grace and this good woman yielded to it. She relaxed and eventually asked where to find the confessional. I saw and spoke with her again after she came out of the church. She seemed so happy. To paraphrase St. Maximilian – we are in the business of making people happy.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us!”