On Sept. 8, the Catholic observance of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass was celebrated in downtown Rapid City at Main St. Square. More than 300 people attended. After the Liturgy and sack lunches, many of those who came for Mass walked two blocks to Memorial Park, adjacent to The Monument civic center, to attend an ecumenical student-led prayer service, “Surround The Monument in Prayer.” Both events were part of preparing for the Black Hills Paha Sapa Celebration with evangelist Will Graham.
“This is very awesome. It’s something quite different, out of the norm. It’s very inviting for anybody who is not part of the faith or thinking about coming back,” said Joan Brost, a Blessed Sacrament Church parishioner, Rapid City.
She is among the volunteers from 148 churches representing 31 denominations who will help spread the message of Jesus Christ. “I will help after the celebration, bringing people to Alpha classes.”
She will help facilitate evangelizing people back to the Catholic Church for those who want it by befriending them. “I’ve run across people who are fallen away Catholics and Alpha is a nice bridge because they are questioning God’s existence. It doesn’t have a lot to do with religion. It has more to do with their belief system, and Alpha lays the groundwork for Christianity,” she said.
Brost continued by explaining that going out for dinner is no fun alone. “I think when we are invited to God’s table, to the banquet, we don’t really want to go alone. I think that’s what Catholic evangelization should be more about. You want to go with somebody, you don’t want to do that by yourself,” she said.
Julie Gray from St. Rose of Lima Church, Hill City, also attended the outdoor Mass. “I think it’s wonderful. I think anyone passing by and hearing the music may be curious enough to come and hang out awhile,” she said.
Gray has been selected to be a volunteer counselor “I will meet with people who are thinking they want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.” A volunteer counselor shares their faith with others and encourages them to learn more about faith and prayer. She is excited about the Celebration event. “It is so needed in our county now. So many people are in need of Jesus Christ.”
Meryl Gaeta, a parishioner from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said, “It is a blessing and the work of the Holy Spirit to attend Mass at Main St. Square. As St. John Paul II said, ‘Open wide the doors for Christ,’” she said, adding, “Make his message be heard far and wide.”
The principal celebrant, Fr. Brian Christensen said in his homily, “Mary is our mother of evangelization, (she is) the mother of sharing good news. When the celebration is over down at the civic center, our work of evangelization has just begun. Happy birthday Mary.”
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