“Love” is the simple word that comes to mind in considering what brings people to the faith. In the work of evangelization here are five ways people come to the faith through love:
Through family relationships where one or more family members love the faith so much and love a family member so much they cannot help but share it. Such as a parent who has their child baptized as an infant. Or a family who is joined together through marriage sharing the faith. Or by a lifelong witness of a spouse.
The love of a friend or fiancé may bring someone to join the faith.
A loving parish community attracts people to the faith as well. A person sees the loving acts and outreach of a community and is attracted to join and be a part.
A person hears the loving call of God directly and finds themselves at the door of a church.
And, this year for the first time we are hearing it is the loving heart of Pope Francis that is bringing people to the faith.
Jeanne Marie Miles, Director of Worship is quoted in an article for the National Catholic Register. “Pope Francis’ history of simple living, combined with his rejection of some of the more worldly trappings of the papacy, has, for many, made conforming oneself to Christ and living as a Catholic relevant to the unchurched; indeed, to cradle-Catholics as well,” said Jeanne Marie Miles, the Director of the Cleveland Diocese’s Office of Worship. “Like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is leading by example, and many are following.”
In a follow-up television piece with Currents and NETNY.net out of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens in New York, I was asked to share a few words on the “Francis Effect”:
In Joy to the Gospel, Pope Francis describes “the Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first. (cf.1 Jn4:19)…” At the Diocese of Cleveland we are truly blessed to have an increase of 25% more people coming into the faith this year. We have taken the first step and will hopefully be blessed by the Holy Spirit to continue to be missionary disciples, in lovingly bringing people to the faith and love of God and salvation through Jesus Christ.