Advent Mission Blog, Day 1
December 2, 2011
ST. PATRICK’S OLD CATHEDRAL, SOHO. Our Advent mission in Manhattan began today on a brisk and sunny afternoon in SoHo. Our little band of five missionaries, two Legionary priests, Msgr Sakano, and the parish staff was quickly reinforced by a full division of nearly 20 Legionaries brothers, full of joy and enthusiasm. Soon we had the neighborhood blanketed.
Much of the activity on day one was occurring in the Church itself, where the confessional lines were at points four deep. Our closer in the back, the little one, reported some incredible stories of the Holy Spirit's intervention.
One was of a father and mother come to NY to visit their young professional daughter. The trio had come to the Church to see what all the buzz was about, nothing more. After a brief interaction with our missionary, the father went to confession, but the ladies declined. After leaving the Church, and walking a few blocks, they encountered one of our platoons of brothers stationed on the outer perimeter of the parish. The young woman said to her mother, "my goodness, they're 'real' brothers (not actors in costume)!" turned around, and returned to the Church for the sacrament. This is the first time we've been able to document the impact of our perimeter troops in helping the Spirit keep Catholics inside the parish, in addition to their usual role of drawing them into the missionaries at the center.
Another man, who had also stopped by the Church to pray, was invited to the
sacrament by a missionary, and went. It turned out he had a very big problem he was grappling with, and emerged later with joy and renewed strength. He called our
missionary "an angel sent by God."
Later, we encountered on the Street a fashionably dressed young man with his friends, still carrying a rosary he'd received from one of our missionaries two years ago, worn out from praying on it. We replenished his stock with a fresh one, and then, to the astonishment of his friends, he asked if we could pray together on the street corner. It was a very joyful prayer.
At Mass in the evening, Msgr. Sakano spoke of the rhythm of parish life, and how the coming of the missionaries is part of that now, enriching and emerging all. The parishioners in turn energize us, coming to us on the streets with words of encouragement and support. We are all looking forward to Day 2, and the arrival of our reinforcements!