SPRINGBROOK — By this summer, more local Catholics may be "takin' it to the streets" as part of two new initiatives at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, in Springbrook. A special training workshop will be held on April 21 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. for those wishing to effectively minister to people in the community.
Lisa Benzer, director of religious education at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, attended an Encounter Ministries Conference with her friend Tammy Stanek, in January, and was impressed by the work of St. Paul Street Evangelization, which is known for street ministry in places like Detroit. "SPSE is meeting people in the streets, praying over people, and in some cases people are being healed; but most importantly, people are encountering the living God. When this happens, people are open to finding out more about the Catholic faith," said Benzer. "Because we are baptized, we have the power to call upon the Holy Spirit to come and minister to people in need. There are so many people who are suffering today, be it from depression, cancer, mental, spiritual and physical infirmities. God the Father wants his children to come to Him, so that He can tenderly care for their needs. This Miracles and Evangelization workshop in April, will equip people to learn how to share God's love and His healing power with all those we meet."
St. Vincent's hope is to train people in Buffalo to offer this ministry wherever it is needed. "Whether we're in the grocery store, working out at the gym, or at our workplaces, we can have that kind of encounter," said Benzer. "This workshop will equip us to be confident when we encounter people throughout the day, to meet people in their sadness or suffering, and give them hope in God. We can tell. We can see it in a person's demeanor. It's up to us to gently encourage and support, giving hope and opening them up to the love of God; and if physical healing needs to happen, God will do it."
Beginning June 3 at 6 p.m., the parish will also be hosting a free Encounter Ministry service each month. It will be a gently guided service where people are supported and encouraged. "We want to allow people the opportunity to come to a safe place. The Church will have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, meditation, adoration and music. We will have prayer teams, who have been trained, specifically for this event, where people can come and receive prayer."
Benzer is hopeful that initiatives like the workshop and the monthly encounter ministries will spread to more churches in the diocese. "Our goal is to create an environment where people can feel open to God's love. The Holy Spirit is looking for vessels who can be used to transmit God's love to other people, and we at St. Vincent's want to be that vessel."
You can register online for $30 by visiting www.stvincentsspringbrook.weconnect.com or by calling Tammy Stanek at 716-799-2519. The door price of admission will be $40 on that day.