May 7, 2021

Pastoral Ministry / Sean Hussey

When evangelizing, go out to where people are

Sean HusseyOur 14-month-old daughter Emma loves dancing to her favorite music, which is basically three or four nursery rhymes repeated. … All day long! Needless to say, it is a much more enjoyable experience for Emma than for her mom and me.

One of Emma’s current favorites is the song “Five Little Ducks.” As I was listening to it with Emma for the 100th time, something really struck me. This song is actually a great analogy for evangelization, I thought. In case you haven’t heard this nursery rhyme, here’s a refresher on some of the lyrics:

Five little ducks went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother Duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
But only four little ducks came back.

As the song goes on, gradually, one at a time, fewer little ducks come back to Mother Duck until eventually, none of the five little ducks come back.

Then one day …

Sad Mother Duck went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother Duck said, “Quack, quack, quack, quack.”
And all of the five little ducks came back.

In the U.S.—and throughout the world—many Catholics, especially young adults, are leaving the Church at an alarming rate.

Our Church often continues to operate within the walls of our parish and campus ministry buildings, calling out to those who have wandered, hoping they will come back. And yet, we are continuing to lose our “little ducks,” one by one.

As Mother Duck experienced, and as we can clearly see within the Church, this is not working. If we hope to bring people into, or back to, the Church, we must go out to where people are.

Effective evangelization must involve not only inviting people to come to something at church, but for those of us within the Church to go out and bring the good news into the world.

Pope Francis once said, “Evangelizing presupposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself.”

Notice how in the nursery rhyme the five little ducks don’t come back home until Mother Duck “went out” to find them. Sadly, it took losing all her little ducks before Mother Duck realized she needed to do something different.

I pray that we won’t wait until we have lost most, or all, of our people before we realize the urgency of evangelization and seeking out those who have wandered.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost’ ” (Lk 15:4-6). Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Lk 19:10).

Crucial to evangelization is to have the heart of Jesus for the lost, for those who have wandered. We must be willing to go beyond the walls of our churches and bring the good news of Jesus Christ into our homes, workplaces and communities.

(Sean Hussey is the associate director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry within the archdiocesan Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries. He can be reached at The mission of this office is to seek, find and invite all young adults, ages 18-39, to authentic life in Jesus Christ and to spiritually equip them to become lifelong, missionary disciples. One way we do this is through our summer Theology on Tap [TOT] series hosted at McGowan Hall in Indianapolis. TOT gatherings are on June 23, July 7, July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18. If you know young adults who have wandered from the faith, invite them to join us for TOT this summer! For more information, visit

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