We always say that evangelization is about meeting people where they are, about speaking their language so that they can understand. But how often do we actually go to where young adults are? How often do we speak their language? More times than not, I think our efforts are aimed at trying to make the Church more inviting to them, which is great, but ultimately the burden is still placed on them: they have to come to us.
Over the course of my five years being in habit, I have never shied away from wearing it in public. Outside of things that are completely impractical (going to the gym or doctor, getting a haircut, swimming, etc.) I have worn my habit in almost ever situation imaginable. While some may find it strange or may interpret it as a form of clericalism, all I see is an opportunity to evangelize people who would otherwise not interact with an official representative of the Catholic Church.
And do you know what? It is often at those places that many find it excessive and bizarre that I have the most fruitful experiences: at the grocery store, in an airport, at a bar. Unlike churches and ministry sites where friars and priests are somewhat expected to be, these are situations where we seem completely out place, where we stand out against the crowd. And believe it or not, more people talk to you when you stand out then when you blend in. Funny how that works.
It’s with that in mind that I bring these two ideas together in this week’s reflection. By no means a novel idea nor is it one for which I have no experience, I present this idea simply because it is underutilized and a missed opportunity. In our attempt to evangelize and reach young people, why not begin to be present—in our religious attire—at bars?