Holy Redeemer parishioners called to evangelize, one invitation at a time

  • Written by Morningstar Stevenson
  • Published in Local
Members of the Holy Redeemer Parish staff, including administrator Ed Brands and faith formation director Mark MacKenzie, go over logistics with nationally known Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick before his Dec. 6 presentation at the Vancouver parish. Photo: Roger Poissant Members of the Holy Redeemer Parish staff, including administrator Ed Brands and faith formation director Mark MacKenzie, go over logistics with nationally known Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick before his Dec. 6 presentation at the Vancouver parish. Photo: Roger Poissant

VANCOUVER – For the past six months, Roger Poissant has been meeting with a team from his parish to learn strategies for talking about his faith to friends and acquaintances.

“My definition of evangelization is more through example,” said Poissant, a member of Holy Redeemer Parish who is active in the men’s group and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program. “There’s a finesse to it,” said Poissant, explaining that he might casually mention his Vancouver parish as a way of telling people “this is where I’m coming from.”

Poissant said he welcomed the opportunity to help evangelize by inviting people to a Dec. 6 event at Holy Redeemer called Reboot, featuring nationally known speaker Chris Stefanick, founder of Real Life Catholic. According to the nonprofit’s website, its purpose is “to ignite a bold, contagious faith in the heart of every Catholic in America.”

Bill Moran, another member of the parish evangelization team, has listened to Stefanick on TV and radio for more than a year. “It’s been an ongoing deepening of my faith,” he said.

RebootMembers of Holy Redeemer’s evangelization team, including Stacy and Roger Poissant (center), spent months getting the word out about a presentation at their parish by Chris Stefanick (far left), founder of Real Life Catholic. Photo: Roger Poissant

Meeting people where they are

Moran, who became Catholic eight years ago, met monthly with 10–15 Holy Redeemer parishioners to learn how to evangelize effectively. Moran said he learned different approaches for reaching out to friends or acquaintances and telling them about Reboot. Connecting “one-to-one” is often the best way, he said.

Team member Stacy Poissant said the meetings, which included videos about evangelization from Real Life Catholic, helped her learn how to use different types of media to evangelize. Showing a friend a video clip from YouTube can be a good lead-in to a conversation about faith, since videos are “thought-provoking in a short period of time,” she said. Another strategy is recommending a good faith-connected book or website.

“You need to assess where people are in their life regarding God and religion,” Poissant said, “and evaluate the best way to approach them.”

Poissant said the monthly meetings also enhanced her faith life. “I pushed myself a little bit to volunteer more [in the parish] and strengthen my prayer life more.”

Inviting friends to Mass

In the months leading up to the Reboot event, Holy Redeemer parishioners sold nearly 1,000 tickets, according to Jamie Kohler, a faith formation leader at the parish. Reboot drew people of all ages, including many from the area’s parish youth groups, said Bobbi Casanova, faith formation director at Vancouver’s St. John the Evangelist Parish. About 125 youth and families from St. John’s attended.

“Just to see this unified church of all ages, young and old, was great to see,” Casanova said.

Stefanick, “in his own unique way, proclaims the core Gospel message of the love of Christ for his people,” said Ryan Lovett, a spokesman for Real Life Catholic. And Stefanick shows people how to take that message into their daily lives, Lovett said.

RebootPeople of all ages from Vancouver-area parishes gathered at Holy Redeemer Parish in Vancouver to hear Chris Stefanick’s “Reboot” message about living out their faith in their daily lives. Photo: Chad Poissant

Kohler, a longtime staffer at Holy Redeemer, said she has heard a lot of speakers over the years, and Stefanick made an impression on her. “If he can move me with his talk, he can move anyone,” Kohler said.

Experiences like Reboot give Catholics “a chance to showcase the fact that we believe deeply in the power of a relationship with Christ,” Lovett said. He expressed hope that Catholics who left Reboot “energized, excited and engaged” will be inspired to invite friends to Mass.

That’s what Stacy Poissant has in mind. She plans to talk more with a friend who attended Reboot at her invitation and “eventually I would like to invite her to a Mass and walk her through it.”

Team members from Holy Redeemer are now available to meet with anyone who wants to learn about Catholicism. “There will be opportunities for people to find out more about their faith or connect with people who are new to the faith,” Moran said.

And the team may decide to bring in other speakers, Roger Poissant said. Meanwhile, he’ll continue to evangelize by example.

“Some people you can communicate your faith to and some you can’t,” Poissant said. “You gotta live it.”