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Column: Programs cannot evangelize the world; only people can

by Matt Karr

Over the course of the last year, Mary has lived with two different guys and slept with many others. She is a beautiful young lady in her mid-twenties and she is Catholic.

Of course, she doesn’t go to church too often and isn’t sure she is ready to hear about Jesus: “I don’t think I am ready to follow all the rules.”

As I hear Mary’s story, my heart goes out to her. I want her to know that she is loved, that Jesus wants to be in relationship with her, that there is hope beyond finding the “perfect” guy.

She isn’t looking for a church; rather, she is looking for love. Although she doesn’t know it, love is looking for her. As my wife and I lie in bed thinking about this young lady, we are certain that the Lord wants to be in relationship with her. Jen and I are unsure what we could invite her to at the parish; nothing quite fits. Mary doesn’t need programs, she needs people. She needs to be invited into relationship, preferably with people who will love her and not judge her, yet will introduce her to the Lord through their witness.

There are many thousands of Marys living in northeast Kansas who need to know the love and mercy of the Lord. But Mary needs people who will love her and witness to her. Programs alone cannot reach the Marys in our archdiocese; people can. We need individuals and communities that are enflamed with the love of Jesus who are willing to lay down their lives for people like Mary, welcome them into our communities, and introduce them to person of Jesus.

Only the Holy Spirit forms these types of witnesses and communities, and we need more of the Spirit — a lot more. We need the Spirit in our own lives, in our families, in our parishes and in our communities. We need the Holy Spirit to give us hearts of flesh so we can be sensitive and respond to the Marys in our midst.

At the end of this month, we will be celebrating the second annual archdiocesan Evangelization Sunday on May 31. Leading up to Evangelization Sunday, we are inviting every parish and family to join together in praying a novena to the Holy Spirit for the nine days leading up to it and coinciding with the solemnity of Pentecost. In this prayer, we are asking the Lord for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit to begin to transform our own lives, our families, and our communities.

I invite you to join the archbishop and me and thousands of others in this novena prayer, asking the Lord for more of his Spirit, so that our hearts may be responsive to the Marys in our midst!

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Matt Karr

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