Wareham parish next to launch its own Day of Evangelization

By Becky Aubut, Anchor Staff

WAREHAM, Mass. — On November 1, St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham will see its doors open after an 8 a.m. Mass and watch as God’s latest disciples walk out two-by-two and knock on Wareham doors as St. Patrick’s launches its inaugural Day of Evangelization.

Leading the charge is pastoral associate of the parish, Deacon David Murphy, who is excited to see his parish participate in a ministry that he experienced last year during the Day of Evangelization at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Attleboro.

Deacon Murphy was moved by St. Patrick’s pastor Father John Sullivan, who had already been speaking about going door-to-door in his homilies; “His whole idea was to greet people,” said Deacon Murphy. “He was inspired by the fact that so many people fall away [and feel] nobody misses me now. Not that they have fallen away because something negative happened,” they just didn’t feel connected to the faith anymore.

While still a diaconate candidate, Deacon Murphy heard about St. Vincent de Paul’s upcoming Day of Evangelization and it brought back what Father Sullivan had already been talking about: “I felt I needed to be proactive and see what this was all about,” he said.

Unfamiliar with the Attleboro area coupled with anxiety over being part of something new, Deacon Murphy brought a notebook to mark down everything he saw — from the Mass, to the music played, to what was placed in the welcome bags — because he had “a funny feeling” that a Day of Evangelization might be in the future for his own home parish of St. Patrick’s. 

Upon arriving, even finding a parking spot made his anxiety grow, said Deacon Murphy, adding that once he settled into a pew for Mass, his nervousness continued to put him on edge. “My mind is racing and my heart is starting to pump,” he recalled, “and I realize that I’m really doing this.”

Drawing on his experience as a businessman, Deacon Murphy acknowledged how difficult “cold calls” are, so he knew that doing “cold calls” at doors would be challenging “but the church was filled with people” and he felt the support of the parish community. His anxiety didn’t diminish after Mass as he followed the large group down to the basement to register, be partnered up, given maps and bags, and then set forth.

“It seemed like forever, and now I’m going to have a heart attack,” said Deacon Murphy of the large number of people, some of whom came from Rhode Island to participate. 

Being a last minute walk-in, Deacon Murphy said he had to wait a while before being able to register, but it was when he was finally partnered with a woman from Attleboro that he said he felt the Holy Spirit guiding him, as he and the woman drove to their mapped out area and she shared with him that she had felt so anxious and overwhelmed that she had almost left before being partnered with him.

“I told her I had felt the same way!” laughed Deacon Murphy. “It just all worked out. Once we got to our designated neighborhood and had gotten to know each other, we relaxed a bit.”

The final bits of his anxiety washed away as soon as he knocked on the first door; “I can’t describe it but it will be the most incredible experience you will ever have, just to see what and who will be on the other side of that door, and to see where the Holy Spirit is going to lead you,” said Deacon Murphy. “It is so beautiful.”

Twenty-four hours later, Deacon Murphy came into the church to get ready for morning Mass “just full of life” and told everyone about his experience; “I just kept going on, and so much so, that [Father Sullivan] made it a part of his homily. I knew that we were going to have one of these, then,” he said.

Deacon Murphy waited until after his ordination to begin the process of organizing the event, and Father Sullivan would work into his homilies the message of spreading the Word of God through a Day of Evangelization. Deacon Murphy said he’s received a tremendous amount of help from Sister Catherine Lamb of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Trinity, who offered her help, telling him: “‘This is what our order is about; it’s about evangelization and going out to people,’” said Deacon Murphy. “With her help, we’ve really gotten the nuts and bolts in planning the day, what it involves; we even have one of her Sisters, Sister Barbara de Moranville, M.S.B.T., coming in from Philadelphia to help us. She’s done this herself and explains the rubrics after Mass and explains to people what’s going on.”

St. Patrick’s will be meeting at 7:40 a.m. at the church to say the Rosary, with Mass scheduled at 8 a.m. Breakfast will be provided as instructions, assignments and blessings of the parish welcome bags are done. By 10:30 a.m. and for the next two hours, volunteers will be going two-by-two to their mapped out area to visit the homes of Catholics registered at St. Patrick’s. After returning to the church, lunch will be provided as witnesses share his or her experiences.

Each home visit will have only one member talk while the other prays, said Deacon Murphy. If no one is home, then a welcome bag will be hung on the door. Along with information about St. Patrick’s including a letter from Father Sullivan, the welcome bag will also have additional pamphlets from the Paulists Fathers offering general information about the Catholic Church.

Initially, there was a lukewarm reaction to the Day of Evangelization by parishioners; “They were all skeptical. Almost 100 percent the response was, ‘Are we Jehovah Witnesses?’” said Deacon Murphy. “The first months with all this publicity, you had the really faithful who were on board, but it has taken time [for others]. Everyone had really prayed and thought about this.”

The motives for signing up to walk door-to-door vary, said Deacon Murphy, citing how one woman, who has been praying for years for her children to come back to the faith, is using the Day of Evangelization to prove to God that she is not just talk and prayer, but is willing to step up and play a more active role.

Currently the effort has 32 door-to-door volunteers with additional individuals doing the food and other duties like stuffing the bags; Deacon Murphy hopes to pull in a few more to get at least 40 door-to-door volunteers on his list to give him 20 teams. Out of this, Deacon Murphy wants to eventually reach out to all Catholics, not just in Wareham but also beyond, and “have a fully established and active committee that can take this and run with this,” he said.

Right now the buzz is in the air, said Deacon Murphy, and “you can feel the excitement” at the parish over the upcoming day.

“I tell people, this is the ultimate — this is the real test of faith,” he said. “Right now I know people are prayerful, do other ministries, but this is the initial ministry that Jesus had given to all of us. Even if it’s a personal anxiety for you to get over, to do this for the Lord and to be out there in true mission world is just immense and you will be so filled. The words and the prayers will come to you.”

Walk-ins are welcome but interested parties can register early. Those wanting more information on registering can call St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham at 508-295-2411.

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