A cradle Catholic, Cathy Duffy left the church as an adult and spent 20 years in the Protestant world as a home-school expert, author, and enthusiastic evangelist.
So, when she decided to return to her Catholic faith, Duffy brought with her the tools and expertise she had developed and determined to use them to evangelize. Since 1998, she has remained active in St. Vincent de Paul parish in Huntington Beach.
“Everyday Evangelism for Catholics,” Duffy’s new book [published by TAN Books and available for $16.95 at Amazon.com], encourages us to evangelize to friends, family members, and even strangers.
“If we really understand the message of the gospel – that God loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us – it’s the best news ever,” Duffy says, “and if we love other people, we should want to share it with them.”
Evangelism doesn’t have to be difficult, even for Catholics who prefer to keep their faith private, she explains. “Evangelism is a matter of simple conversation. Slow down and take the opportunities that come up so often.”
Frequently, Duffy prays that she will be seated next to a stranger on an airplane who wants to talk. Active in her parish Alpha program, she says that one of the things emphasized in the course is to pray spontaneously with others.
“It can be simple, like ‘Dear Jesus, please help this person with this problem.’ I grab their hand and say, ‘Can I pray with you right now?’ I remind God that he knows she is suffering with this, and I ask that he please help her in Jesus’ name.”
Her book describes how Catholics can begin evangelizing. Among some of the topics she covers:
- Why all Catholics should be involved in evangelism – it’s not just for Protestants.
- How to guide a conversation toward opportunities for evangelism.
- How to ask the right questions to find out where a person is on their spiritual journey.
- How to be prepared to respond to the key concerns that are likely to arise in different situations.
- What a worldview is and why it matters.
- How to present the Catholic faith to a Protestant who is already familiar with the Bible.
- How to actively listen so you can learn what people truly think and feel.
- How and why to pray with others on the spot.
The Christmas holidays are perfect times to evangelize to friends and family gathered for the celebrations, she says.
“We know that people are struggling with hurts, things that have happened to them,” Duffy acknowledges. “You don’t know why they left the Church or why they are staying away. Until you listen, you don’t know which way to direct the conversation.
“Holidays are a good time because there is more opportunity to connect and more times you are around each other,” she adds. “People are really thinking and talking about Christmas. The holiday gives us an excuse to bring up our appreciation for all God has done for us.”
Evangelization begins simply, Duffy notes. “Conversations with people are an underrated tool,” she explains. “You listen and ask questions about what’s going on in people’s lives. Everyone has issue, something troubling them. You can start asking about whether God is part of their lives.
“It’s all about reaching out and starting the conversation.”