As this year’s monthly luncheon programming continues for the First Friday Forum of Lorain County, planning committee members are dedicated to featuring speakers that invite attendees to reflect on these two questions:
- What can Catholics do to better connect with people?
- What makes a person say I want to belong to this Church?
On March 4, Father Damian Ference, vicar for evangelization for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, helped the group continue its 2022 mission by presenting a dynamic talk, “Evangelization: Or Why Your Kids Don’t Come to Church.”
(See photo gallery above.)
Chairperson Jack Giovannazzo opened the luncheon, welcoming more than 130 guests from parishes throughout Lorain County and beyond. Some attendees also submitted questions seeking suggestions on how to ignite faith practices within their families.
Father Ference began by sharing his vision for evangelization and how each person present is an ambassador for Christ.
“Evangelization can take place anywhere – in your homes or encounters right on the street,” he said, recalling how he and a team of volunteers recently stood on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland to welcome visitors during the NBA All-Star weekend and invite them into the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
“If you have recently been to the cathedral, then you know there is a fair amount of construction,” he said. “And the optics of boarded-up doors really give an impression of how others may view Catholics today,” Father Ference said, sharing statistics and phrases from a recent study that included words like: “closed off” and “unwelcoming.”
“It is important to think of how people may see us, including our loved ones. Jesus traveled to meet with people where they were and often times in the most unexpected places,” he said, encouraging attendees to engage with younger family members at locations that provide a sense of comfort. Father Ference also recommended asking a simple, direct question such as: What makes you not want to attend Mass? Then, he said, “really listen to the response” or share personal examples from your life.
“Start simple and remind your grandchild or family member that in the end, God loves them,” Father Ference said.
Upcoming First Friday Club Forum of Lorain County speakers include Father Jack Manning, Father Joe Koopman and Bishop Edward Malesic. For information on attending a future luncheon, email firstname.lastname@example.org.