St. Augustine St. Monica Parish Enfleshes Jesus’ Love and Meets Community Needs
“A lot more people are praying and believing in God right now than did before the pandemic, and I’m one of them. I’m trying to find where I belong.” These words were shared recently by a guest of the St. Augustine St. Monica parish food pantry. A parish staff member had asked the guest if he had any prayer intentions or would like to pray together from a safe distance. This invitation led to a conversation about his search for meaning and for God, which has continued over the past several weeks.
This guest is not alone in his search. Several others who live in the parish’s neighborhood were not ready to come to church due to the pandemic or for spiritual reasons. Yet they were seeking a safe, welcoming space to ask questions, connect with others, and get to know Jesus. St. Augustine St. Monica is meeting their needs by offering an outdoor, physically-distanced small group hosted by their evangelization team. The meetings allow for casual conversation, a brief Biblical teaching on questions such as “Why am I here? How can I find my purpose?” and discussion.
St. Augustine St. Monica Catholic Church is a thriving multicultural parish in Detroit whose mission is to announce the Good News of Christ by developing their talents to respond to the needs of their parishioners and everyone within their boundaries. In 2019, the parish received a $5,000 grant from the Catholic Foundation for a neighborhood evangelization project. The project seeks to better equip parishioners to share the Gospel in their daily lives and in direct evangelization efforts in the community. The grant helps to fund the full-time staff person who leads these efforts, as well as parishioner training, printed evangelization materials, and the costs associated with hosting events that are “shallow entry points” for the community.
St. Augustine St. Monica Parish’s food pantry is also a grantee of the Catholic Faithful Response Fund.
“Jesus is the light in the darkness. He is shining His light on people suffering during the pandemic, suffering due to minimal access to food, and suffering due to lack of community. As we gradually re-open, our evangelization efforts have continued in a safe way. This is one way St Augustine St Monica Parish continues the mission to make disciples of all nations, by meeting people where they are and providing for both bodily and spiritual needs,” shares Genevieve Kocourek, Evangelization Coordinator for the parish. During the pandemic, the parish has continued and creatively adapted their evangelization in the neighborhood, both virtually and in-person.
“The evangelization program has increased the faith of participants through their encountering Jesus on mission, which gives them confidence in God who works through them to reach others. It has also increased the faith of the surrounding community. Some neighbors have encountered Jesus very powerfully when being prayed with or through having conversations with parish evangelists that allow them to reflect more deeply on the mysteries of God,” Kocourek continues.
Parishioners and visiting summer seminarians, who come voluntarily, are trained to evangelize and can participate
in direct evangelization efforts such as home visits and follow-ups and evangelizing at a local liquor store. Their effort also includes hosting summer events such as ice cream socials and bi-weekly summer basketball afternoons, helping to make the parish grounds a center of recreation in the neighborhood. Some of the efforts continue this year in an adapted way.
The evangelization team also has a presence at parish events such as Jazz on the Lawn and Trunk or Treat. The team runs the Alpha Program, which has been moved to an online format during the pandemic.
St. Augustine St. Monica also received a $2,500 grant in 2019 to celebrate the parish’s Feast Days in August. The three-day celebration strengthens and grows the parish family through a revival with dynamic preachers and a jazz festival that draws in many people who are not part of the parish. Visitors are able to meet parish members, see the church, and talk or pray with members of the evangelization team.
“People who have entered the Catholic Church in this parish in recent years have stated one of their reasons as seeing the love of members of the community. We desire that the love of Jesus Christ, enfleshed in our parish, goes out in our evangelization efforts and transforms people’s lives,” Kocourek shares.
The Catholic Foundation is energized by the creative and persistent ways that St. Augustine St. Monica parish is enfleshing Christ’s love in the community. Help us to increase our granting in 2020 to projects that are unleashing the Gospel in impactful, dynamic ways.