Weekly courses geared toward anyone who want to learn practical evangelization, not just street missionaries, leaders say
WESTLAND — For almost a decade, St. Paul Street Evangelization has been out and about, preaching the word of God and the truths of the Catholic faith.
Now, the organization is turning its street smarts into book smarts with the St. Paul School of Evangelization.
The school isn’t about training people to join the St. Paul street team, but rather is focused on equipping evangelists with the knowledge and confidence to preach Christ in their daily lives.
Adam Janke, chief operating officer of the Warren-based St. Paul Street Evangelization, said the school, which is set to begin Oct. 9 at St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy Parish in Westland, came from interactions the street evangelization team had with those who wanted evangelization training.
“We first started having online formation available for our evangelists, but we only did one-day workshops,” Janke told Detroit Catholic. “However, there is only so much you can do with a one-day workshop on any topic in the Catholic Church. We felt there was a need for a yearlong school of evangelization to help our students.”
Divided into four quarters, with a suggested donation of $200 per quarter, the St. Paul School of Evangelization is now in its third year of equipping lay evangelists who want to learn more about how to talk about their faith in an increasingly secular world.
“Our students are disciples who have been hearing from (Detroit) Archbishop (Allen H.) Vigneron and other Catholic speakers and writers about the new evangelization, but are still unsure how to put that into practice in their everyday life,” Janke said. “They know we are out there, doing this work through street ministry, so they want to learn from us.”
The St. Paul School of Evangelization aims to turn everyday Catholics into everyday evangelists. Students include those who work in parishes or apostolates, or simply those who want to share their faith with others.
“All different kinds of people come to the course,” said Randy Husaynu, regional urban and senior missionary evangelist with St. Paul Street Evangelization and a teacher in the program. “These are people who want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, but don’t know how. They’ve read this great pastoral letter, ‘Unleash the Gospel,’ and know they are called to be joyful missionary disciples.”
The St. Paul School works with hosts parishes — Holy Family in Novi and St. Mary of the Hills in Rochester Hills in the school’s first two years — to give students real-world experience serving the parish’s needs.
By the end of the class, students feel comfortable talking about their faith to non-Catholics and inviting lapsed Catholic back to Mass, Husaynu said.
“When someone comes into our class, by the end, there will be a lifechanging transformation within their souls; their core DNA will change,” Husaynu said. “They will become like a St. Peter, a St. Paul, where they will be evangelists without knowing it.”
Students throughout the course are assigned “homework” in the form of weekly challenges, doing everything from evangelical charity to practicing telling others why they’re Catholic.
Each class includes small group discussion, sharing tips and tricks for the next time an evangelization opportunity pops up and what it means to live with a missionary spirit.
“A lot of people go through the classes and feel more confident as a result,” Janke said. “They feel equipped by the Holy Spirit and filled spiritually so they can go out evangelizing. A lot of them look over their testimony reports and their group projects, realizing, ‘Oh wow, look how far I’m coming along, I’m having regular conversations about my faith in Jesus, about the Church and the sacraments.’”
Classes are offered both in a virtual format and in person; in-person classes are held Saturdays from 6-8 p.m. starting Oct. 9 at St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy. The courses end June 1. To register, visit streetevangelization.com/parish-schools.
“The greatest benefit of this program is saving souls,” Husaynu said. “You are out there, building bridges from the streets to the Church.”