“Baptized and sent”: door-to-door evangelization in view of the extraordinary Missionary Month
In St. John’s Parish – Karachia group is doing what may have seemed unthinkable: knocking on doors and talking about their faith with parishioners especially those who do not come to the Church.
“Very often, people in the Parish are urged to care for the poor, work for justice and love God. But I do not recall anyone telling to ‘proclaim and preach the Gospel; to go and make disciples.’ For whatever reasons, efforts by Catholics to personally share the fullness of the Gospel seemed absent, even when other self-made pastors and ‘ministers’are hitting the streets of our illaqas andare knocking on doors,” said Fr. Arthur Charles, the Parish Priest of St. John’s Church.
Thanks to him who conceived the idea to have Pastoral Workers totally dedicated to do ‘Door-to-Door Evangelization. This is entirely new vision and concept in Pakistan.
Father Arthur Charles has a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from Rome. As a professor of theology and other related subjects, he is involved in the education and formation of future Priests. He has a long experience of Pastoral Work in the Archdiocese of Karachi. He has served in various capacities. He was Vicar General with Archbishop Emeritus Evarist Pinto. For over 15 years he served as the Director of the Catechetical Centre Karachi from there with his innovative initiatives and ideas he not only served the Archdiocese of Karachi but the whole of Pakistan. He is known to use media for Jesus. His efforts have made history in different fields. He is member of International Organizations. He is also a good writer and his books are very popular among the people. Most of all, he is considered a visionary and uses his life and talents for spreading the Gospel and for the betterment of the communities.
When asked about his latest creativity in the pastoral field, Father Arthur Charles said: “seeing the situation of our Archdiocese where we have very few priests and catechists – bothfull-time and Part-time – and realizing that the real and actual needs of the faithful are not met. Moreover, the abundance of self-proclaimed pastors are not only causing threat and confusion but are a serious danger to Catholic Faith. Hence, we decided to have a group of young people who could give time for the preaching of the Word of God.”
He has selected from the entire Parish 12 men from different walks of life. He gave them intense education and formation for 3 months in Theology, Biblical Studies, Liturgy, Sacraments, Pastoral Theology and Skills and Dynamics for Door to Door Evangelization. After that these men were sent for active Pastoral Work which lasted for 3 months.With a simple methodology, they are required to give only 2 hours every day.
On June 11, 2019 on the Feast day of St. Barnabas, during the Holy Mass presided by His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Coutts a Sending-Off Ceremony was held.In his homily the Cardinal encouraged the Pastoral Workers and asked them to remain committed to their call. He quoted the examples of the Apostles and Saints and especially highlighted the life and mission of St. Barnabas.
When asked to specify this ministry Fr. Arthur Charles said: “They will serve voluntarily. Their main task is to go door-to-door, especially to non-Church going families and recite the basic prayers and read the Gospel of the Day with them.”
“I have a plan and a vision for these Pastoral Workers, eventually after proper assessment, their responsibilities will be enhanced and they will become full-fledged Catechists /Pastoral Workers and if the Local Church Leaders will allow, some of them may be also suitable candidates to be married Deacons in the Church,” said Fr. Arthur Charles.
“I am one of those who did the unthinkable: I visited the locality that was assigned to me by Rev. Fr. Arthur Charles and began knocking on doors, saying ‘I am from St. John’s Parish; Father Arthur Charles has asked me to visit you. I just want to read the Gospel of the Day with you and will recite a pray for your welfare. The families were very happy. They allowed me in. I also spoke about my Catholic faith. At the end they said that thank God Catholics are also carrying the Holy Bible and are coming to our homes,” said Master Ashraf Francis while sharing his experiences.
When this reporter asked other Pastoral Workers about their experiences most them said that people are intrigued that Catholics had come to their homes. Some asked questions. Others aired concerns. They said, a few also hinted at past unhappy events. Some admitted that they stopped going to Mass after their confirmation or marriage but had been thinking of returning. Several weren’t Catholic but were ‘happy the Catholics are doing this.’
“I must say we are so well trained and given good education and formation with vision and courage. I continue to follow the instructions of Fr. Arthur Charles. He says: Go. Knock. Greet. Listen. Read the Gospel.Say a prayer.Ask them to pray for you. And if the opportunity comes, invite people to Mass,” said Emmanuel Francis.
Fr. Arthur Charles says such events are moments of transcendence for parishes and that the work of evangelization is an on-going process, one requiring great patience and trust in the Holy Spirit. “One should not be discouraged ifthere is not an immediate, noticeable increase in Mass attendance,” he said.
It is learnt that some Parishes of the Archdiocese of Karachi are considering havingsuch Pastoral Workers in their teams to form of door-to-door evangelization. They have made requests to Fr. Arthur Charles to facilitate them.