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Andrew Schiltz, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie, and Gloria Gancarz, a parishioner at St. Joseph in Cottleville, talked during an Evangelization 101 workshop Feb. 11 at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville.
Andrew Schiltz, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie, and Gloria Gancarz, a parishioner at St. Joseph in Cottleville, talked during an Evangelization 101 workshop Feb. 11 at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville.

Participants in Evangelization 101 workshops hear practical tips for sharing one’s testimony and get a chance to practice

Vicky Gardner, a parishioner at St. Joseph in Cottleville, talked at her table while holding her 5-month-old daughter, Monica, during an Evangelization 101 workshop Feb. 11 at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville. Lynn McMurtry, center, and Lesia Anstead, right, were at her table. The workshop covered not just what evangelization is, but also practical tips for sharing one’s own testimony and time for discussion and practice with small groups.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Evangelization begins “with the conviction that Jesus matters,” Brian Miller told those gathered for an Evangelization 101 workshop at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville. “When we know what Jesus has done in our own lives, we want to talk about it.”

The Feb. 11 workshop was the first of 15 that will be held in each planning area of the archdiocese throughout February, March and April. The three-hour training, based on the first two parts of the Evangelization 101 video series, covered not just what evangelization is and why we do it, but also practical tips for sharing your own testimony and ample time for discussion and practice with small groups.

Four people who participated in the workshop spoke with the St. Louis Review about their own experiences of evangelization.

Andrew Schiltz, a junior at Christian Brothers College High School and member of the youth group at St. Joseph in Cottleville

Schiltz
I want to learn more about evangelization, especially as a teenager. In high school, I see a lot of people in a lot of different situations, and being able to approach those situations with better evangelization skills will be incredibly helpful.

I grew up in the faith, and I have an awesome family. But I didn’t really know what’s on the table. Through LifeTeen events with our youth group and being on retreats, I’ve come to realize what God is actually offering me. I’ve been able to experience being part of an evangelizing community. God is so good — He’s just so, so good.

CBC is a Catholic school. But there’s just so many people that I see walking around that don’t really exactly know what the Catholic faith entails, just like I was a few years ago. I also see people in a lot of pain with their own situations and issues. So, I just see so much opportunity for God to work in their lives, and I see so much hope. So, I just want to be able to reach out to them and evangelize that way.

Julia Harrell, parishioner at St. Gianna in Wentzville and first-grade teacher at St. John Paul II Preparatory School

Harrell
I feel like my mission is to help others encounter God, so they know that God loves them, and He sees them, and He wants a relationship with them. I think that’s all of our missions. The greatest obstacle to that mission is fear, because sharing with others that encounter with God is a risk. It’s being vulnerable. And we need that grace from the Holy Spirit to get past that fear.

Evangelization is everywhere around us — it’s in our own sphere of influence. Our church, our family, our workplace, the grocery store, Walmart, wherever you go — that’s where God is calling you to evangelize. When I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit in the grocery store, then I reach out to that person; when I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit at Mass, I reach out to that person. I reach out to that person at school, where I teach. And I’m not always open. But when He gives me the grace to ask, then He shows me who needs a word of encouragement, or who needs that hug.

I think I’ll remember the approach to evangelization through the sharing of my testimony: who I was before, what changed, and who I am after. People can identify with you, if you can come alongside them and share your story in your testimony. I think that’s really important.

Missy Lowery, RCIA coordinator at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon and owner of A.M. Prints

Lowery
When I sponsored somebody in RCIA, it just changed my world. Talk about moving the information from your head to your heart! I really started plugging into my faith, realizing that God was there all the time, and I had to make efforts to get to know Him. So I started a prayer life, and I have been involved with RCIA ever since, because He feeds me and feeds those involved to share faith with one another. He gave us one another for a reason. We share faith, and that’s how we grow and learn and stay connected.

I also build relationships with all of my customers who come in my front door. People come in, and they want to talk, so I listen, and I get to know them. There’s so many opportunities where you see Jesus in other people, or other people need you to give them a little bit of Jesus and be Jesus to them. I try to point to faith, or point to prayer, or say, ‘Hey, that was a God moment,’ and they may not have thought that. I try to plant the seeds wherever I can. That’s really what this is all about.

Vicky Gardner, parishioner at St. Joseph in Cottleville and former FOCUS missionary

Gardner
We have four kids under 6. What I’ve found is that the first place we need to be evangelizing is our children. And from that, finding other people who are, too — it’s such a barrier breaker, like, ‘You have little kids, too — let’s go do something together!’ And that opens up conversation so easily. It’s seeing families and inviting them into our home and just sharing life with them. That’s really what this first stage of evangelization is about — sharing life with people, gaining trust, getting to know them and learning to love them, and then inviting them into a further relationship with the Lord because of our own relationship with the Lord. It’s very organic — it’s just the people around you. It doesn’t have to be something from your pastor. You just see the people around you, and you share life with them.

I’m really hoping to see more missionary disciples within our parishes. We see a lot of people who go to Mass but maybe don’t even understand what they’re doing at Mass, or there’s no personal relationship with the Lord. But making missionary disciples is going to take people who are intentionally seeking other people out. We need practical ways. Who are you sitting next to at Mass? Introduce yourself to them. Those practical things are what I’m hoping to see more.


>> Evangelization 101 workshops
The archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Discipleship is hosting free Evangelization 101 workshops in each of the 15 planning areas from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday mornings this spring. The content will be the same at each workshop, so plan to attend just one. For more information and to register, visit archstl.org/evangelization.
Feb. 11: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (planning area 3)
Feb. 11: St. Joseph in Cottleville (10)
Feb. 25: St. James in Potosi (14)
March 4: St. Joseph in Imperial (13)
March 4: St. Cletus in St. Charles (9)
March 18: St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in south St. Louis County (5)
March 18: Holy Spirit in Maryland Heights (7)
March 18: Sacred Heart in Troy (11)
March 25: St. Gerard Majella in Kirkwood (6)
March 25: Immaculate Conception in Union (12)
April 1: Ste. Genevieve in Ste. Genevieve (15)
April 1: St. Francis Xavier “College” Church (2)
April 15: Holy Infant in Ballwin (8)
April 15: St. Raphael the Archangel in south St. Louis (4)
April 22: Sacred Heart in Florissant (1)

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Participants in Evangelization 101 workshops hear practical tips for sharing ones testimony and get a chance to practice 8422

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