Catholics need to share their faith

  • May 10, 2010
mission festTORONTO - For some Catholics, attending lively non-denominational events presents an opportunity to share in a common faith in Christ and cross the wearisome Protestant-Catholic divide. At the same time, it’s also a chance to remind others of what Roman Catholicism has to offer — which can have both positive and challenging results depending on the delivery.

Elizabeth Wodham of Sarnia, Ont., considers herself an active Catholic, participating as a eucharistic minister and in other aspects of parish life. But to her, missions are an important part of evangelization and she laments the fact that nothing Catholic promotes the missions as much as MissionFest, a non-denominational event which features an exhibit tent for missionary organizations. The 15th annual MissionFest took place in Toronto April 16-18.

“I’ve grown so much and learned about other different agencies but wouldn’t it be neat if we promoted our missions by holding a booth there?” she said. “It would be wonderful for us. How many people would say, ‘oh my gosh the Catholics are here’?”

Wodham often brings Catholics from her diocese to help out in the volunteer room at MissionFest, where they work shoulder to shoulder with volunteers of various Christian denominations. She sometimes runs into people who fell away from the Catholic faith who now attend other churches.

“I think there is a ministry for us, of welcoming Catholics back by showing that we aren’t segregated,” Wodham said.

And it has also been an opportunity to help people understand what she loves about the Catholic Church, she said.

“When people ask what’s so different about our Church versus theirs, I just say I really love our sacraments, which are really special to me.”

Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the archdiocese of Toronto, said it can be a challenge for Catholic organizations to join events like MissionFest because of the style of prayer and outreach.

“That kind of prayer style is accommodating to charismatic Catholics but not so inviting to traditional Catholics,” he said.

There’s also the reality that in the past, Catholics have met opposition for displaying things like icons or images of saints, said Deacon Carlos Nogueira, liaison for the Catholic charismatic community in Toronto.

“We’re never free to be fully Catholic. Some might take offence, so out of respect we have chosen to stay away from some inter-denominational events,” Nogueira said.

But as for MissionFest, it wasn’t even a consideration to attend because the date conflicted with the Lift Jesus Higher Rally, said Nogueira.

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