Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
October 4, 2022 // Diocese

Parishes Create Street Evangelization Teams

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

Two parishes in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend recently launched street evangelization teams to minister to their local populations. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne currently has seven active members on their Street Evangelization Team. The team is led by Chris Langford, who has felt called to the ministry for years. After retiring last year, he found the opportunity to do so. 

“I have wanted to do this since I was in my 20s,” Langford explained. “Now I have an opportunity to do this.” 

So far, the team’s initiative has led members to go door to door ministering about the Catholic faith, ministering in a park setting, and even organizing a prayer service at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton called Light the Fire, where the approximately 300 in attendance had the opportunity to go to confession, take advantage of priest counseling services, and pray. 

Provided by Chris Langford
Bill Davis, Michele Fox, and team leader Chris Langford set up to spread the Word of God at Indian Trails Park in Aboite Township in July as part of the Street Evangelization Team from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne.

“Individuals and families were invited to enter the church and light a candle for peace in our country and world,” Langford said of Light the Fire. 

St. Vincent de Paul Parish, also in Fort Wayne, is slated to officially launch their Street Evangelization Team soon. Led by Monica Aquila, Pastoral Associate for Communications, and Father Brian Isenbarger, Parochial Vicar, the team is currently working through its initial evangelization strategy. 

“We are thinking through ways to bring the Gospel to those outside the walls of our church; to those who would never come onto our church grounds,” Aquila commented. “We want to invite people to know the love of God, that He has a plan for their lives, and that He wants a relationship with them.” 

While St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s team has received steady interest in the ministry, Langford explained that oftentimes many have trepidation about evangelizing. 

“But Catholics are petrified to evangelize because they have no experience, feel they are not equipped, and fear a hostile response,” Langford said. 

However, in Langford’s experience, once taking part in active evangelization, many find a comfort in the ministry. 

“Those few who so far have gone out evangelizing with us have in most cases been quite nervous and uncomfortable,” he explained. “But just doing it and seeing how gracious and pleasant the people we talk to are is rapidly making our people more and more comfortable.” 

Those that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Street Evangelization Team evangelize to are open to a conversation about Christ. 

“No hostility,” said Langford. “People are always courteous and sometimes receptive.” 

When evangelizing, Langford says he has prayed and conversed with a wide array of people with a wide array of needs. He has found that fallen-away Catholics, atheists, and other denominations alike are touched by the ministry. 

There are “lots of hurting people,” he said. 

In every interaction, this team meets those they encounter in their journey and then caters their conversation and prayer to those needs. 

“We meet people where they are at — what they need physically, emotionally,” Langford said. “Encourage them to take the next step in faith.” 

For other parishes interested in launching a Street Evangelization Team, the diocese will host two formal trainings in the spring. St. Vincent de Paul will host one on May 6 and St. Pius X will host another on May 13.

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