At age 30, Steve Dawson had hit rock bottom. With a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand, he fell to his knees in a field of grass behind his parents’ house and prayed his first real prayer of his life: “God if You are real, You’ll have to show me.”
God broke powerfully into his life and within a month, Steve went to confession for the first time since second grade. As a testament to the kind of life he had been living up until this point, his confession took an hour and a half, and his penance was to say 30 rosaries!
Soon after his dramatic conversion, Steve had a hunger to share with the world the treasure he found in Jesus and His Church. And he lamented the fact that he never saw any Catholics evangelizing. He had seen Bible-waving Protestants, bicycling Mormons and smartly dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses, but no Catholics. He became determined to do something about it.
He heard about St. Maximilian Kolbe who evangelized strangers by offering them a blessed Miraculous Medal. St. Maximilian called the medal, “Our Lady’s Silver Bullet” because it was a channel of grace, and God oftentimes used it to bring about a conversion in someone’s life. Steve decided to begin evangelizing using this medal. The method was simple. He would start a conversation by asking someone if they would like a free Miraculous Medal. Then He would tell them about it and ask if they were a Christian. The conversations happened supernaturally from there.
St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) is a grassroots ministry, dedicated to responding to the mandate of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the streets. Christ’s call to evangelize was made to every Catholic Christian, and the Second Vatican Council reiterated this need, urging each of the baptized to bring the Gospel, found fully in the Catholic Church, to a culture that has largely reverted to paganism.
As an on-the-street Catholic evangelization organization, St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for people to share the Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a hungry culture.
St. Paul Street Evangelization provides the tools and resources for Catholics to engage the culture in a simple, non-confrontational method of evangelization which involves making themselves available to the public to answer questions about the Faith and to pray with those who request it. SPSE has had tremendous growth and now has teams throughout the United States and internationally.
But a person might ask, “How can lay people share the Catholic Faith so publicly? Isn’t that the job of priests and bishops?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, ‘that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life.’” For lay people, “this evangelization acquires a specific property and peculiar efficacy because it is accomplished in the ordinary circumstances of the world” (CCC 905).
As a lay organization, St. Paul Street Evangelization works in fidelity and obedience to the Catholic Church and her Magisterium.
“Over the years, I have noticed when I speak to someone about the Lord, they can easily discount it, thinking, ‘he’s a priest—he’s supposed to say that,’” said Bishop Timothy Freyer. “Whereas a layperson has much more power to touch the heart because the hearer recognizes that the one speaking is “normal” with a job, family, etc. The lay person sharing their faith is what most often brings another to Christ and His Church. We think this is difficult or scary, but as you will see, the St. Paul Street Evangelization training shows you that this is easy, natural and very rewarding.”
The Orange Diocese has its own ministry of St. Paul Street Evangelization. Since late 2022, we have provided training and activation out on the streets. There are several young adults that are taking part in this new ministry of the Diocese. Our hope is to help train and equip many individuals from parishes, lay and religious. There will be seminars held over the weekend of March 26: All are welcome to attend a two day seminar for Basic Training, Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Healing in Evangelization Workshops Sunday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Participants are welcome to register for one or both days. Register here: https://qrco.de/bdki6Y
For more information on future training session and about available scholarships, please contact Katie Hughes at [email protected]