An Artful Approach to Accompaniment
In a creative twist on evangelization, a woman in Ohio is using her spiritually-themed artwork to share her faith with a friend.
When going through Reach MoreTM mission training, Nicole Melchi of Holy Family parish in Stow, Ohio, felt that she was already well-versed in relational ministry. But when discerning her personal apostolate, she felt challenged to think outside the box in accompanying a particular friend in their own faith journey.
As a parishioner who is extremely involved in the life of the parish, it was clear that Nicole was a great candidate for the mission training. “I already had a lot of the communication and interpersonal skills that were highlighted in the training through my job,” Nicole shared, “but it actually took me until towards the end of the training to discern what my personal apostolate was going to be.”
Nicole brought this discernment into her weekly hour of adoration. After a few weeks of asking the Holy Spirit to guide her, Nicole felt a particular person placed on her heart. “This person is a close friend of mine who I have noticed falling away from the Church. When I thought of her, I knew that I could go deeper with her even with how close we already are.”
They began meeting more frequently in intentional one-on-one conversations, and Nicole noticed how open her friend was when she shared her personal experiences of faith. “I didn’t come right out of the gate asking her the details of why she was less involved,” Nicole says, “I mostly just listened to her talk about her life and shared my own stories when I felt it was appropriate. The mission training also showed me ways I could be more organic and effective in sharing my faith.”
The depth and trust in their relationship was deepening, and Nicole prayed about how she could take their friendship into the next threshold. Nicole loves drawing religious and spiritual artwork as a form of prayer, and she felt called to begin sharing her artwork with her friend as a way to bring faith more prominently into their conversations.
That personal and thoughtful gesture moved Nicole to share more freely when she felt the Holy Spirit prompt her to. “I started sharing more of my artwork with her, as well as quotes from books or meditations that I was reading that were relevant to things we shared in conversations. She was very receptive.”
Nicole was ecstatic to see their relationship moving into this new territory. She invited her friend to adoration, and the friend enthusiastically accepted her invitation. She even mentioned having one of Nicole’s illustrations on her desk at work.
“The Evangelical Catholic’s Reach More mission training has been wonderful in bringing people together,” Nicole says. “The skills that are built through the training have definitely allowed me to approach my relationships in a more intentional way.”
School Apostolate | Moms at a Catholic parish and school in Ohio are transforming the school into a mission field:
At St. Francis de Sales in Newark, Ohio, new families are witnessing the school campus as a training ground for missionary disciples. Three committed mothers are hosting Reach More mission training sessions for other active and incoming parents, where they are creating an environment of community and faith building among families. Tina, the Director of Evangelization and Formation at the parish, says that Reach More has allowed the parish to “accommodate the cultural shift” towards relationships and faith-seeking in their community, and has even strengthened the bond between the church and the school.
Neighbor Apostolate | A small group in Wisconsin is looking close to home when seeking intentional friendships:
Megan leads a small group in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, where she fosters an open and inviting environment. People in Megan’s group have felt called to invite their neighbors, some of whom are not active Catholics or regular Mass attendees. The experience in Megan’s group has also inspired new leaders to go through the Reach More mission training. Next year, the group hopes to branch off into multiple groups in order to welcome more women into Christian community. There’s a lot of interior growth and excitement about God among this group of women.
Fishing Apostolate | Love of Jesus and the outdoors led an Ohio man to his personal brand of evangelization:
Greg, from New Albany, OH, was greatly impacted by Reach More mission training. He was inspired to increase his situational awareness of others in his parish community, and to strengthen his habit of prayer and openness to the Holy Spirit. Because of this, Greg has begun accompanying a fellow parishioner in his faith journey by inviting him on a weekly fishing trip. They are growing in friendship, and Greg is excited to help connect his friend into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Heart + Habits of Mission: Intercede through Prayer and Fasting
The people who walked and talked with Jesus in the Gospels didn’t hesitate to ask him to do things. Mary asks Jesus to help the couple in need on their wedding day (John 2:1-11). Peter and the disciples ask Jesus to help Peter’s sick mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39). A faithful centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13). A group brings a paralyzed man through a roof to be healed. “When Jesus saw their faith” he healed the man of his sins and of his physical ailments (Luke 2:1-12).
They acted as go-betweens, bringing the needs of others to Jesus and asking him to act. The word “intercede” comes from the Latin: inter for “between” and cedere meaning “to go.” One who intercedes goes between one party and another, asking for something to be done on their behalf.
What difference does it make if we visit and pray for our friend in the hospital as opposed to only visiting? Or if Mass is offered for a special intention? Or if we spend time, perhaps with a few Christian friends, lifting up the needs of our neighbors, our friends, even our enemies? Jesus taught and modeled to us that it does matter. Prayer makes a difference—in us, in others, and in circumstances. Jesus repeatedly instructed his followers to do it, offering staggering promises we might be tempted to think were exaggerations: “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
Thankfully, we don’t have to understand just how prayer works to take up this practice with gusto as we’re called to do. It’s one of the primary and universal ways we are called to love our neighbor and spread the fragrance of Christ.