IN THE MEDIA
A MINISTRY OF LOVE
Excerpt from Angelus full article: A Ministry of Love in the Heart of the City
“Because the ministry’s foundation is Christ, and it’s their goal to share Christ with others, you can see the joy right off their faces from a mile away,” he said.
Adrian Flores, associate director of parish and community leadership for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Life, Justice and Peace, which invited Christ in the City to Los Angeles, said that one thing that sets the missionaries apart is their joy.
“For someone who’s homeless and sees someone who comes up to them smiling, instead of, ‘Hey, do you have an ID?’ and all those questions, but instead says, ‘How are you doing? My name is so-and-so. Do you need anything? Can I sit here for a bit?’ It’s way more inviting.”
This year was a pilot program for Los Angeles, and he expects the archdiocese to continue hosting summer missionaries. Next year, Flores said he hopes to add a weekly lunch in the park — which the program in Denver features — that would invite local Catholics and parishes to receive training on how to encounter the homeless so that they can also participate in street ministry.
“The more we offer opportunities like this for our parishes to go out and serve, the outcome is transformation,” he said. “You’re going to be transformed by getting out of your comfort zone and speaking to this person you might not know — a stranger.”
Q&A with Team LA!
What was the most impactful experience you had on the streets?
Our street ministry would often start by hearing a voice hollering across the plaza “You guys, I got another story for you!” Ray is one of the most animated story tellers I’ve ever met. We spent a good chunk of street ministry listening to Ray tell us the wildest stories about his glory days.
Our last day on the streets we told Ray we wouldn’t be back again. It was clear that all of us wanted more time together. He gave us his autograph and we made it known to him how much joy he brought us. As we were walking away, Ray hollered at us one last time, “Hey guys, I love you.”
What was one of the most joyful moments in community?
The rooftop of the old convent building where we stayed was one of our favorite community spots, especially at night. From there we could see the Los Angeles skyline and the fireworks from the Dodgers stadium after Friday night games. My favorite moments, however, were singing praise and worship as a community up there. It was a surreal experience to hear everyone sharing their hearts in that way beneath the stars.
What was something profound you learned from your guest speaker?
Dr. Anthony Lilles, the professor for our seminar on Catholic Social Teaching, spoke about the love at the heart of the apostolate never being restricted by what is convenient, conventional, or comfortable. If we let the love of God encapture our hearts, all the fears that keep us from loving the other with our entire being will disappear.