July 12, 2013

Serra Club vocations essay

Priest spreads the Gospel through loving deeds

(Editor’s note: Following is the third in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

By Ellen Flood (Special to The Criterion)

Ellen FloodPope Benedict XVI invited us to rekindle our faith in Christ, to spread the Catholic faith. Priests, men and women religious and permanent deacons rekindle the faith of people in the Church and beyond predominantly through their actions.

It is not so much how many people they evangelize. The most important work done is by concentrating efforts on a small group. They do this best through loving actions.

Actions speak when words can’t. The best evangelization occurs when these holy men and women aren’t even trying to evangelize. It occurs when they are simply being people of Christ in charitable work, kind words and prayer for other people.

People see the faith of these holy men and women, and are inspired by them to worship God and further spread his message by doing small acts of kindness.

Suddenly, when people who had not previously known God or had ignored him are confronted by these random acts of kindness, they are pulled in to God’s word. As it says in Matthew, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Mt 14:28); God helps us do extraordinarily difficult things we didn’t think we were capable of doing—spreading his word along the way.

I know one priest in particular who exemplifies extraordinary faith in God and evangelization of his message. Father John Hollowell, a young priest who used to minister at my parish, adamantly campaigns for the pro-life mission. Some people hate him for it.

He publishes anti-abortion articles, speaks in front of large crowds, goes on the March for Life and, most importantly, helps women. These women may be suffering from post-abortion stress or sadness, or they may be considering abortion. Father John is loving, and that’s what really gets these women to follow God’s word.

His love toward children draws them into the Catholic Church and teaches them values, inspiring them to spread his message to other kids. As Father John shows, the best way for priests, men and women religious and permanent deacons to be a witness to Christ as they spread the faith is by showing Christ’s love.

At the end of the day, Christ’s message and faith is a loving one, and the only way to spread a message of love is to love.

(Ellen and her parents, Mike and Cathy Flood, are members of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg. She completed the ninth grade at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the ninth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2013 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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