April Adams of Metamora explains why evangelization is ‘just loving people’
METAMORA — Evangelization. While the word stops many in their tracks, April Adams said it doesn’t have to be hard.
“It’s just loving,” she said. “It’s loving people where they’re at.”
When that happens, anything is possible, according to Adams, a longtime member of St. Mary Parish in Metamora and the new evangelization chair for the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She started spreading the word at the DCCW’s biennial convention, which was held Oct. 27 at St. Matthew in Champaign.
The key is connecting with God through Scripture and the Eucharist, and then with one another, she said. For her that means spending time with her Bible on a regular basis.
“When you start getting into the Bible, you just grow and grow and grow and grow,” Adams told The Catholic Post. “You can live it out better when you know it.”
She also belongs to a Tuesday morning prayer group and leads a Gospel study for a group of women every other Thursday. They dig into the previous Sunday’s Gospel passage, which gives her time to collect the homilies from her pastor, Father Gregory Jozefiak, Pope Francis, and others, as well as Bible commentaries.
“They’re hungry for it — I think everybody’s hungry for it really,” Adams said. “They want (God’s) word.”
Sometimes the group meets at her house, but they also meet in a coffee shop or restaurant in the Metamora area. Adams comes about 30 minutes early in case someone wants to talk about something or would like to pray for a special intention.
“People will walk in and we’re praying, we’re talking, we’re discussing God. We’re not afraid of that,” she said. “People need to see Catholics out doing that.”
LIVING OUT THE GOSPEL
Adams encourages the women to open their Bibles and look up the Scriptures they’re studying, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to them.
“Our goal is to live the Gospel out,” she explained. “We’ll go around and encourage each other — how do we live it out in our marriages? In our families? In our friendships? In our neighbors? In our community? That’s our goal. It’s really, really beautiful.”
The key is connecting with God through Scripture and the Eucharist, and then with one another, said Adams.
Adams also advises them to seek out the Eucharist, especially when something is going on, and delights in seeing the women at daily Mass.
“To me, the idea is really just connecting because we all have so much to share,” she said. “I may lead it, but you can feel the Holy Spirit growing us all.”
In addition to being loved and accepted where they’re at, women are looking for someone to help them find hope, Adams told The Post, noting that even though they want to draw closer to Jesus, they’re busy and often distracted because things get in the way. When they reach out to her, she’ll send a Scripture passage back to them and a note of encouragement.
She’s quick to point out that none of it is about her, however. “It’s about Jesus.”
Over the years, Adams and her husband, Stan, have mentored couples and led the youth group together. She has also worked with Teens Encounter Christ and the school’s aftercare program when it started.
One of things that gave her great joy is directing the Living Stations of the Cross, working with the eighth-graders from St. Mary School. She did that for 25 years, inviting the students to go beyond mere acting to imagining how Jesus must have felt when Veronica wiped his face or what it feels like to be betrayed and abandoned by friends.
Now her involvement includes coming together with parents and parishioners once a week to pray for St. Mary School, one class at a time. The gathering usually lasts about 15 minutes and then they walk across the street to the church for Mass.
Each thing is like a stone thrown into a pond, Adams said, and she’s seeing the “ripples” in the way people are supporting one another and praying together.
She hopes her work with the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women will produce even more ripples.
“I am working with the Office of Evangelization and Faith Formation at the Diocese of Peoria to provide leadership formation, resources and community opportunities to parishes in their efforts to carry out the church’s mission to ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,’” Adams said, quoting Matthew 28:19.
“I am excited to work with parishes across the diocese to enhance involvement of all Catholics using the program the National Council of Catholic Women has given to the DCCW to pass on to the parish level,” she added.
The name of that program is “We Are Called to Witness” and it gives ideas for personal and parish use that can help people evangelize.
Adams offered to help people fulfill the mission of evangelization, in whatever way that plays out in their lives. Contact her at adamsFM1@mtco.com.