February 8, 2017
I walked into the YMCA the other day and heard someone calling my name. I located the voice and saw Andrea walking toward me. She was a part of an Evangelization Workshop at their parish.
“Chris, have I got a story for you…this evangelization stuff really works!”
Andrea went on to share how she and her husband were serving as greeters at Mass on the previous Sunday. As she stood outside the church welcoming people to church, she saw a young couple approaching. She did not recognize them. She put on a big smile, reached out her hand and said “Welcome, my name is Andrea. Are you new to our parish or just new to this Mass time?”
The couple explained that they were new to the area. The woman’s mother was retiring in Pensacola, and they decided to move down to live near to her. Andrea asked a few more questions, showed genuine interest in the couple, and offered to help them connect to the parish community. The couple thanked Andrea and walked inside. She felt a sincere connection with the couple and was thankful for the encounter.
After Mass, as Andrea was straightening up worship aids and bulletins for the next Mass, the young woman she met before Mass approached her. She thanked Andrea for the warm welcome and for Andrea taking a genuine interest in her and her husband. She said she had been to other parishes in the area as she looked for a parish to call home, but it was Andrea’s genuine care for them and willingness to help them get connected in the parish community that made her respond, “We have found what we were looking for in a parish community. Thank you, Andrea.”
We were made for connection with one another. We were made for communion with one another. Andrea didn’t just welcome the young couple to a church building or even to a Mass. She welcomed the young couple into her life and into a community. Andrea evangelized that day by taking a risk, having a conversation and welcoming “strangers” into a parish community.
With God’s grace, may we all be a little more like Andrea not only at the door of our churches but in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and community. May we respond generously to Jesus’ invitation to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).