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Holy Name parishioners evangelize on the local streets

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Nov. 12, 2010


By David Eck

HAMILTON DEANERY —Members of Holy Name Parish in Trenton hit the city’s streets Oct. 2 to spread the good news and raise awareness of the Catholic presence in the Butler County town.

About a dozen parishioners and Holy Name pastor Father Thomas McCarthy knocked on more then 300 doors and spoke to 118 families during the three-hour effort. They offered small one-decade rosaries and a bookmark listing parish events and activities.

Residents tended to be friendly, and 41 people asked the parishioners to return with additional information. A team is being formed to revisit those residents within the next month.

“None of us had done that before,” said Louise Karas, a Holy Name parishioner who organized the effort. “We’re successful because we went out and planted a seed.”

Trenton parish

Back at the parish, 11 other parishioners supported those on the streets by gathering materials and preparing lunch.

Karas is in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum of Ohio and will continue to work on the evangelization project as part of her studies. A larger effort is being planned for the spring and summer to cover every house within the parish boundaries. Holy Name is located just south of the city’s downtown area.

Father McCarthy came up with the idea, Karas said. He was appointed parochial administrator at Holy Name in March following the death of Father George Klein, who had been pastor there since 1991.

The evangelists selected certain neighborhoods as a “target market,” Father McCarthy said. Those neighborhoods are densely populated.

The parishioners introduced themselves as being from Holy Name and offered to discuss the church. They asked residents about their religious denominations, whether they attend church and where. Catholic residents were asked about the parishes they attend, and non-Catholics were encouraged to participate in their own churches. The residents were also invited to attend Holy Name’s spiritual and social functions.

Parishioners who participated met in a training session ahead of time to review various elements of Catholicism so they could explain them and answer residents’ questions. The visits were friendly conversations with people about the church, 

Father McCarthy said. The parishioners, ranging in ages from their 20s to their 70s, worked in pairs.

“For the most part as a group, we got positive feedback,” Father McCarthy said. “They were supportive of our efforts.”

The idea was first discussed in June as a way to help increase the number of parishioners, in addition to spreading God’s word. Interest spread, and the October date was set.

“I think it just energized the parishioners when they realized that it wasn’t really that hard. The main thing we’re called to do is be faithful to God’s call, to go out in the world and proclaim the faith,” Father McCarthy said. “Getting a bunch of positive feedback was energizing for the people. It wasn’t going to be about our success, but our faithfulness.”

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