Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Open wide the doors to Christ!

In response to the over 100,000 visitors expected to pour into Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, located in downtown Indianapolis, will be taking literally Blessed John Paul II’s invitation to “open wide the doors to Christ” by opening its own doors.

Among other things, the church is planning a special devotion the Friday before the Super Bowl.

The evening will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Father Nagel, followed by a testimonial from former NFL player and Super Bowl champion, Chris Godfrey entitled “Catholic Touchdowns for Life Eternal.” The evening will conclude with the rest of the holy hour, praise and worship music, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Criterion, the paper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, adds more:

St. John the Evangelist Parish, which was founded 175 years ago when Indianapolis was a small town on the edge of the American frontier, will be in the middle of the Super Bowl Village that will host many events at the Indiana Convention Center across the street from the parish and on the streets surrounding it.

Tens of thousands of pedestrians will walk by the church on the streets that will largely be closed to vehicular traffic during the 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl.

There will even be a zip line on which riders can zoom for 800 feet from a starting height of 95 feet. The line ends in front of St. John Church.

When the riders put their feet back down on solid ground, they will see a sign in front of the parish’s 140-year-old church that reads, “If you thought the zip line was a thrill, … come in and spend some time with Jesus!”

Such a sign shows that Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s administrator, and his parishioners see the Super Bowl as a tremendous opportunity to evangelize.

“You can run and hide or you can just jump in,” said Father Nagel, who plans to ride the zip line. “We’ve decided to jump in and do some outreach.

“Our biggest goal is to give people a great sense of the Catholic Church. … If we can be welcoming and let people know that there is so much good and many good young people engaged in the Church, we’ll have had a good 10 days.”

To do that outreach, approximately 70 tour guides called “St. John evangelists” have been trained not only to explain the history, beautiful architecture and other aspects of the church, but also to explain how they embody the Catholic faith.

They have already been put to work in large events in recent months, such as the Future Farmers of America Convention, the 2011 Big 10 Football Championship and the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Several priests will also hear confessions in the church for 28 hours during the 10 days. An “Ask a Catholic” booth will be set up in the church’s narthex in which visitors can get answers to their questions about the Catholic faith.