Monday, February 22, 2010

Go out into the streets...

Not everyone who comes to Catholic Olympic Headquarters at 150 Robson St. is Catholic. In fact, since we don't ask, we have no way of knowing. But the weekend brought experiences that show just how important it is to evangelize with welcome doors.

For instance, one mother with an infant looking for a place to rest eventually took advantage of the opportunity to nurse her baby.

Another family -- mother, father, baby and grandparents -- were headed to LiveCity Vancouver but decided to postpone the hordes and stay a while at our little oasis.

Then there was the Muslim family who dropped by -- mother, father, three children and mother-in-law -- and were pleasantly surprised that the archdiocese had not only opened its doors in friendship, but also its chapel. They asked whether they could say their afternoon (Muslim) prayers.

One of the volunteers, Marie, relates what happened next: Archdiocesan staff did a quick consultation, then encouraged them to visit the chapel. They also gave the family a little catechism on what our most sacred space is about, that Christ Himself is resident there.

The father mentioned that they have a high regard for Jesus as prophet, and was surprised to hear that Fatima, the name of Mohammed's daughter, is the name of a real place in Portugal where Mary appeared to three children. Marie complimented Muslims on their faithfulness in saying their prayers. Then, just as they were leaving, she grabbed a few Olympic mascot gel pens she keeps on hand for children and handed them out.

"They were very surprised and very grateful. It was really good hearing them say, 'Thank you for the hospitality.' "

Some of the visitors who drop by wonder "what's the catch?" They're amazed to find out there is none, and on the way out the door they assure other skeptics, "They're not trying to sell you anything!"

There are also those, said Marie, who are just grateful to find a place offering its washrooms to one and all. "The look of relief on their faces is priceless!"

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