Stretched and emboldened by some of the exciting challenges in Unleash the Gospel, specifically to try new things and to be bold in the attempt, young people from Our Lady of Sorrows Jr. High and High School Ministry spent time during the last year leaving the parish grounds. In groups, they took their faith out into the neighboring residential streets and into downtown Farmington.
We knocked on doors — or walked around the downtown area — and announced who we were and what parish we were from. We handed out goodie bags and shared conversation.
In March, we handed out St. Patrick’s Day goodie bags. Included in the bag were a prayer asking for the saint’s mighty intercessions, a handout on his most amazing life, a rosary with info on how to pray it, and green-foiled chocolate Hershey Kisses.
Reaching out at an unexpected time of the year, we knocked on doors and handed out family movie night bags. The bag included a packet of microwave popcorn, an assortment of Tootsie Rolls, individually wrapped red licorice, a mouth-watering nacho recipe, and a list of the Vatican’s Top 100 Films.
In the spirit of Blessed Solanus Casey, who challenged us to live with an attitude of gratitude in anticipation of what God will do in our lives, young people brought goodie bags to strangers at the downtown pavilion. These bags held information on the gentle man’s life and his gratitude philosophy, an assortment of candy, a prayer for Solanus’ canonization, as well as a rosary and how-to guide. When they were handing out bags, the young people said things like, “I thank God for YOU!” Or, if they were dining, “I thank God because you are out here supporting local businesses,” or “I thank God for you just having good clean fun,” or “I thank God for you, being such a great mother and taking such good care of your children.”
These young people were met with surprise, warm smiles and many warm “thank yous”. One man was so touched he gifted the kids with a $50 bill and asked them why they were doing this. “For God,” the 13-year-olds responded. When a woman in a folding chair was thanked for being brave enough to get out and celebrate God’s creation, the sun, she took her special bag and said, “I thank God for YOU! No one talks this way!”
For the extrovert, this exercise was easy. For the introvert, it could bring a rash! But together, supported by their friends in faith, they each stepped out of the boat and onto the water and met Christ’s hand! They overcame their fear. They now know how to do it – and that they can do it!
In addition, those they serve know they are young, Catholic, and unafraid to say it and show it. They are eager to share on a simple yet powerful level some of what the Church can offer. It can then be practically applied in every life, in a step toward holiness.
To offer something similar at your own parish, there are some things to consider ahead of time:
Create interest in the opportunity with parishioners (and others) and encourage people to take part in some way. This personal involvement may include donating items for the bags, decorating or assembling the bags, and passing them out.
For distribution day specifically, be sure to collect signed permission slips and train participants about what to say and how to say it.
Divide up specific geographic areas to cover, and be sure to have small, chaperoned groups going out together, and provide time to process and reflect on the experience once you are done.
Parts or all the above could be incorporated into a family service opportunity as well.
To learn about other similar door-to-door adventures and the catechetical lesson for the young people that went along with each event, contact Marilyn Trumper-Samra.