Never underestimate the power of an invitation.
Once upon a time there were groups like Legion of Mary, which could canvass parish neighborhoods. Once upon a time, priests even walked about neighborhoods working on a census. Then again, parish neighborhoods were often ethnically concentrated, etc. etc. Neighborhoods were more self-enclosed, having small groceries, dairies, butchershops, hardware stores grouped on a corner every few blocks or so. Times have changed.
But this story is perfect for your Just Too Cool file.
From The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix, where Bp. Olmsted reigns.
Catholics Matter: Intrepid sister goes door-to-door inviting Catholics to Mass
That knock at the door might not be a sales person. Sr. Margery Therese Harkin, PVMI, with her soft Irish brogue and sparkling blue eyes, is out pounding the streets, looking for the lost sheep, even as the summer’s brutal heat beats down on her pale blue dress and veil.
Accompanied by seminarians or lay people, Sr. Margery visits homes, inquiring if there are any baptized Catholics in residence and inviting them to church. A religious sister belonging to the New-York-based Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, Sr. Margery said some of those whom she visits decide to attend her RCIA classes.
“We always tell them that the priest sent us,” Sr. Margery said. “Just as the Apostles were sent, we never go in our own name.”
She and two other sisters reside in a convent at Christ the King Parish in Mesa, but 30 hours a week, Sr. Margery is working to bring people into — or home to — the Catholic Church at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Phoenix.
This is her third year at the west-side parish and she estimates she’s visited about 4,000 homes. Previously, Sr. Margery worked in the neighborhoods surrounding Queen of Peace and St. Timothy in Mesa and St. Daniel in Scottsdale. She’s also trained teams of parish visitors in other states.
She doesn’t pressure people — she merely invites them and lets God do the rest.
In Florida, a woman answered the door and admitted she hadn’t been back to church in 30 years because something a priest did offended her. [I know this is a real thing. I have talked to people think this way, but - how dumb is that considering the loss of spiritual benefits? When people say things like this, I suspect there is some other reason.]
“We’re taught we have to listen,” Sr. Margery said of the encounter. “She needed to tell her story.” Though apprehensive, the woman decided to come back to the Church.
There is more there.
Fr. Z kudos to Sister.
I wonder what Sr. Simone and the bus-nuns would say about this.