Here is an excerpt of part of an article written on a Parish Mission I gave earlier this year in Southern Maryland, coming to the August 9-22, 2009 edition of the National Catholic Register! Thanks Brother Eddie for the great article!!!
BY EDDIE O'NEILL
August 9-22, 2009 Issue | Posted 7/31/09 at 7:01 AM
The healing effects of a parish mission are not limited to parishioners. Sometimes they reach out and touch entire communities.
Father Scott Woods at St. Peter Claver Church in St. Inigoes, Md., is well aware of this "exponential potential." When he became pastor at this historically black parish last summer, he says, it was a church divided.
"The church was split between one group that was focused on the exteriors of the parish — the music, the preaching and Church history — and those who were there for the faith, the Eucharist and the sacraments," recalls Father Woods.
That all changed when Catholic evangelist Richard Lane, the founder of the St. Louis-based Qorban Ministries (online at Qorban.net), brought his fiery preaching to St. Peter Claver for five nights last fall.
According to Father Woods, the parish had never had a Catholic preacher or priest give a parish mission. Instead, they would have a Protestant minister come in and give a parish revival.
"I told them that if we are going to continue to have a parish mission, we are going to have to have someone who can preach Catholic theology," says Father Woods. "We have lost so many African-American Catholics to Protestant sects. I wanted to help my parishioners to grow spiritually, but in their Catholic faith."
Some parishioners were skeptical and upset that their new pastor had broken with tradition. Even Father Woods admits that he was nervous that his new idea would fail. That was until he heard all the good news that was coming from the first night of the mission.
Father Woods says that, with a well-marked Bible in one hand and an equally noted Catechism of the Catholic Church in the other, Lane made the teachings of the faith and the importance of the sacraments come alive like never before for his parishioners.
"People came out so inspired," says Father Woods. "I have never seen so many of our people from all age groups there. Every night the crowd grew. People were quoting Mr. Lane for weeks afterwards."
By Their Fruits
The fruit from this mission is still blossoming throughout Father Woods' parish. The priest has seen people return to the sacrament of confession. He has introduced Eucharistic adoration and has seen a growing number of new altar boys who are eager to serve.
And, already, the parish is planning to have Lane return for another mission.
Back at the Fathers of Mercy, Father Chris Crotty can't keep up with the number of new requests he's getting for parish missions. He is thankful for all the positive feedback he has gotten from parish after parish. In fact, he says, he can't recall a single serious complaint.
For those who think that a parish mission is just for the highly pious or the "holy rollers," Father Crotty's message is clear: "Get out to a parish mission and meet Christ in his Spirit," and you'll "have a personal encounter with Christ the Wonder-Worker."
The promise applies not just during Lent or Advent. It holds its integrity all year.
Eddie O'Neill writes from
Green Bay, Wisconsin.
All Parish Missions for the remainder of 2009, Evangelist Lane is conducting for LOVE OFFERINGS ONLY! The inviting Parish is asked to please take care of transportation costs as well as allow Mr. Lane to stay in the Rectory for the remainder of the Mission.