November 23, 2019: The Streets of Providence Revisited
Three members from the two Legion praesidia were back on the streets of Providence sharing the Good News.
Srs. Marissa from St. Vincent DePaul’s Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Srs. Eileen and Sr. Diane from St. Eugene’s Our Lady Queen of the Clergy met at St. Mary’s on Broadway at 10 AM. The weather was much colder than their first mission two weeks earlier but they set out with high hopes and light hearts.
Using the same approach that served them well before, they gently engaged the people they met, established a connection and through a simple and friendly conversation were able to touch 15 souls who were open to prayer and offered their intentions. There were, of course, those who were not interested and a couple of people who were, in a word, hostile.
They first met Kenneth who asked that they pray for Maya, his sister, that she would be ok …..
Margy, a lady on the corner who appreciated what they were doing but had no intentions and did not take a rosary … but they prayed for her….
Annette, an individual who appeared to be disoriented, possibly on drugs, and bobbing in and out of the street. They were able to bring her to the sidewalk and start a conversation . She asked that they pray for her sister Sarah and they said a prayer on the corner. Sr. Marissa gave her a church bulletin from St. Mary’s and told her that she could go there to get in from the cold and find a safe and quiet place.
They had a quick exchange with a young man walking his dog. Friendly and outgoing, he asked that they pray for him, his dog “Stu” and his boyfriend CJ.
Sr. Diane found an older woman in distress searching through her bag outside of a coffee shop. She said she had lost her keys. They offered her assistance as well as a rosary and medal but she accepted nothing. She was pleasant but not interested.
Dogs are evidently a draw to human beings and Sr. Diane spied a trio of young women talking to a dog that was sitting on a chair on a sidewalk outside of the bistro that his owner was in. Sr. Diane struck up a conversation with Katie, Liz and Tara and discovered they were not “sure” about religion but welcomed the offer for prayers and asked that they pray for all people who suffer from addiction.
Sr. Marissa then met up with the first negative encounter of the day. She said hello to a white haired gentleman who was getting out of his car. She identified herself as being from the Legion of Mary and that they were out talking to the people and offering prayers. His response, quite gruffly, was “well, good for you …. go for it … !” and he pivoted and walked away. Sr. Diane, of course, called after him … “We’ll pray for you too sir !”
A bit further down the street they encountered two young women … one intently looking at her phone. They approached and engaged and learned that their coworker’s mother had just passed away and they were grateful for the offer of prayers. Sr. Eileen added the coworker William’s name and his mother to the book of intentions.
A young family then approached…. A man, woman and beautiful little girl who was interested in a passing pooch …. They struck up a conversation with the mother Lakshmi, who asked that they pray for their daughter Asha. Husband Michael also thanked them for the prayers.
The second bump in the evangelistic road came when Sr. Diane called out to a woman who was leaning against the wall of a convenience store. As they approached this woman, the woman told them … “No, stop right there… I don’t go for that proselytizing … don’t come rolling up on me like that …your presence will show people Jesus, not conversation …..” They explained that they were not Jehovah’s witnesses but rather members of the Legion of Mary who were offering prayers and Good News. They respected the woman and walked away. She followed close behind them and after a couple of minutes she apologized to them and was about to say more but her phone rang and that was the end of it.
A very bright spot of the day was Carlos, from Nicaragua. He was most happy to receive the rosary and Miraculous Medal and asked that they pray for everybody … and his family. They are a prayerful family and he would like to go to church but he works six days a week and Sunday is his only day off. Sr. Marissa then gave him the bulletin from St. Mary’s and pointed out her spire down the block. He smiled and said he would go.
Thomas then came down the walk and they engaged him. He too prayed frequently and appreciated the rosary and medal. (Both he and Carlos offered to give the Srs. money, but of course it was refused.)
Last but not least, they encountered Jose, a 15 year old who was glued to his smartphone for most of the conversation. They were able to discover that he lives with his mother. Both his mother and grandmother pray on a regular basis. Sr. Marissa offered him two rosaries and medals. It was tough to get his head out of the phone (he was looking for Pokemon) but he finally accepted them and said they would be happy to get them. Intentions were noted for Lisell , his mom, and Carmen, his grandmother.
Srs. Marissa, Diane and Eileen then turned back toward St. Mary’s to pray the rosary for the intentions of all they had met. The church, however, was locked up and so they prayed in Sr. Eileen’s car. They were out of the wind, safe, and had much to be thankful for. It was a good day for the Legion in Rhode Island.
*In the Legion we call each other Br. or Sr., but we are lay people.