By Tim Harfmann
On the streets of Brooklyn, religious men and women have one goal: bringing people closer to Christ.
As part of the religious order named the Institute of the Incarnate Word, nearly 40 brothers and sisters traveled from Maryland to serve the Brooklyn Diocese for two weeks, knocking on doors and walking the city streets to invite people to Church.
“What we want to do is share, like Pope Francis said, the joy of the Gospel. So on the street, to show a smile, even just listening,” said Mother Maria Aeiparthenos, one of the missionaries.
The curbside Catholics also handing out flyers with events at Saint Teresa of Avila Church and the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
“What I tell them when they, sometimes, feel [scared], ‘We don’t come here to condemn you. We don’t come here to judge you. We come here to tell you that the doors of the Church are always open for you,’” said Brother Simon Magana, another one of the missionaries meeting residents face-to-face.
On September 5 he met Marie Kelly, who was walking her dog, Mimi. Marie admitted that she turned away from the Church in college.
“The Catholic dogma kind of got to me. I know there have been a lot of changes and a lot of improvements, but the message at the time from the Church just wasn’t resonating with me,” she said.
Marie has found Christ again thanks in part to her interaction with these brothers.
“Now that I know that I feel like I need some more spirituality and God in my life, I think that going back to what I was raised with might help me start on the right path,” she added.
Marie’s story reminded Brother Simon of another interaction he had a few days ago, where one woman saw him as a Godsend.
“She’s all like, ‘Every time I need it or I’m going astray, somehow God sends a sign or someone or something; and this time it was you,” she said.
It’s a sign to reinvigorate the pews in the borough of churches.
“St. Teresa’s around the corner from my apartment, so that makes it really easy. We walk by it at least three times a day,” said Marie, who next just might stop in.
If she does, that would fulfill the goal of the missionaries from Maryland.