Prayer: When I attended the second diocesan assembly, Bishop Earl Boyea pointed out the two postures of prayers of evangelization – the outward posture of St. Ambrose, who taught and instructed, and that of St. Monica, who prayed without ceasing. It took both. And it takes both.
Every night, I pray for those close to me, that they will have an evangelist in their life. I also pray in a special way for my three godsons. They are young now, but I pray now that when they are older they have people in their lives who support a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Witness: My 10-year-old godson’s grandmother died, and I decided I would attend the funeral to support him and his mom, my friend. When I arrived at the church, he was vested as an altar boy, so I approached him, said hello and told him I was proud of him for serving. When he said he didn’t know I’d be there, I explained I wanted to pray for his grandmother and his family. He (flatly) responded, “That sounds like you.” That was a powerful – and hilarious – moment when I realized that my life is witness. I loved that my 10-year-old godson knew who I was!
Invitation: I try to include people in things that are new to them. One summer, I was adjunct faculty for a study abroad program for Michigan State. I taught a seminar course in Paris for the summer. It wasn’t necessarily a platform to evangelize, because it was a structured class. Yet I invited all of the students to attend Mass with me at Notre Dame Cathedral. I told them that this place of worship for Catholics had stood for more than 1,200 years, and – whether they were Catholic or not, or even of faith – the experience of being in a place that has housed people of prayer, people in need, people aching to connect to God, people praying for their children through plague and crisis and war, is powerful. The first week, all but two students joined me for Mass; in following weeks, even more came.
One young lady ended up returning to East Lansing and entering the Church within 18 months. Inviting others to stand with you on holy ground is a way we can invite those with a more secular disposition to encounter and honor the Christian faith, even if they aren’t yet interested or exploring.
When I invite, I always hope. The first invitation is coming and encouraging and hopefully that leads to the next step of curiosity. The Holy Spirit can do powerful things and bring people across the finish line!
Accompaniment: A time when students can struggle is after they leave college. This is when they sometimes need their campus minister to be an anchor, because it’s the first time in their life they aren’t surrounded by a peer group who shares their faith. Sometimes, young adults seek community in many wrong places. Sometimes faith feels less relevant at that point. I try to be someone whom alumni can reconnect to and be honest with. For me, a beautiful part of mentoring and accompanying is being a touchpoint for those young adults and reminding them of who they are and how they can be an active and engaged Catholic in a challenging world.
As coordinator of campus ministry for the diocese and director of campus ministry at St. John Student Center in East Lansing, Katie Diller’s ministry provides daily opportunities for her to evangelize. In both her ministry and her personal walk of faith, the Lord has called Katie to pray, witness, invite and accompany the people he brings into her life.