Homebound evangelization: Letters provide a way to reach out with God’s love

by Karen O’Leary

If you ask people about evangelization as Catholics, you may receive the response of “bible thumper.” I have heard this irreverent use of the greatest guide for Christianity many times in my walk as a cradle Catholic. Also, a common view is that sharing faith lessons is for the clergy and other religious ministers.

Yet, Christ called all of us to share the light. That light is born of our faith. In Matthew Kelly’s book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, he shares that 7% of Catholics are considered highly engaged. A segment of those were surveyed and asked, “Are you an evangelist? Less than 1% replied affirmatively.” When asked about Catholic books they read, many responded that they had given them to someone else. In addition, I think Catholics share the light in many ways but fail to see their efforts to share the faith as evangelization.

Over the years, I treasured volunteering for various ministries that strengthened my faith. It was hard to give up those ministries as my health declined. One can’t rest in bed when one is ill and pack the vision of God’s plan in our lives off to others that are healthy. God blessed me with writing that has enabled me to connect with others all over the world.

A writing friend shared with me that she wasn’t religious. I said, “I love you anyway.” She sent her first Christmas cards that she had “in years” in 2017. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and gave her life to God a few months before she died and shared with me that she was at peace.

For five and half years, I published an online poetry journal called Whispers. It gave me the chance to reach out to people all over the world, hoping to spread Pope Francis’ “love without judgement.” My own motto of “walk in the light, be in the light, and share the light,” has helped me listen to God’s voice in this challenging season.

I’ve helped others become more in touch with God’s journey for them—making cards, writing letters, sharing books, and encouraging people in a wide array of opportunities. Evangelization is a part of The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. The other elements the author Matthew Kelly discusses are prayer, study, and generosity. I think all these areas are interlinked, enabling us to travel the road God has meant for us. One can’t evangelize if one is unwilling to study the faith.

I don’t have all the answers as I’m just a humble gal from North Dakota. Yet, I feel God is using me as a vessel to share his gifts with others. Jesus was a model of acceptance of people where they were at and offering them a greater way. That greater way is a calling for all of us to listen to his voice. I’m a work in progress. May you find the path God has meant for you.

Karen is a parishioner of Holy Cross Church in West Fargo.