"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An apostolate I like very much: Urban Missionaries of the Heart of Christ

I just discovered it after checking out Scott Woltze's conversion story.

As Scott explains his ministry:
On All Saints Day in 2013, God invited me to take up a new ministry. While walking through the city the Holy Spirit revealed the different spiritual conditions of three groups of people, and then showed me that the only religious presence on the street was a fundamentalist pastor and some Mormon missionaries. Unlike previous centuries, the Catholic presence on the street had vanished, and in a time when it is desperately needed. After some reflection, I had my neighbor sew a short tunic with the Jesus Caritas heart and now I walk the Portland Metropolitan area offering a visible presence of Christ's love. In time, I hope other laymen will join me, and we will become a fixture around Portland and other metropolitan areas. If you are interested in learning more about this ministry, please write to swoltze@gmail.com  - Urban Missionaries
His model is the Bl. Charles de Foucauld, yet the work sounds very Franciscan - as in Pope Francis Franciscan, going out to the existential peripheries.  The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus - a very tiny religious order live similar lives - as do some Franciscan reform communities, as well as the Missionaries of Charity of course.  Scott Woltze does it differently, more simply, as a layman - like a Mormon or an Evangelical street minister - or even better - in the words of Madelaine Delbrel, as 'we, the ordinary people of the streets'.  Where will it lead?  I don't know.

I think the Spirit has grasped him and led him into the heart of the Good News.  It seems to me this is an example - at least one concrete example of what Pope Francis is calling Catholics to do.  Befriending the stranger.

Many years ago I used to day dream about a small chapel of adoration, right downtown - at the time - in the heart of the Combat Zone in Boston.  Open 24 hours for adoration, possibly with priests available for non-stop confessions.  Providing a place to crash, get some food, get medical attention and any sort of help.  Yet the 'presence' would be in the worst areas, where people were most alienated or abandoned - so they could 'see' the presence of God - and respond however and whenever they wanted.  No Bible banging harangue about hell and condemnation - just merciful love.  The Little Sisters - I think in Canada - had a van with the Blessed Sacrament and from what I understand they had adoration whenever they stopped, with local priests coming for Mass.  Those were all dreams on my part.

Now Scott Woltze has taken it to the streets.  He's that living tabernacle - bringing Christ to the existential peripheries.  "A silent, visible sign."  If this be God's will for him may God's will be done.

I thank God and can only unite myself in prayer for Scott and his generous efforts. 


  1. Terry, thanks for the kind words and prayers. It's not the apostolate I would have chosen for myself (is hiking in the mountains while praying and singing an apostolate?), but God never calls us to tasks we can't do. Interestingly enough, once I understood what he had in mind, I suddenly understood many past life experiences (large and small) in a clearer light. As if my life was eventually leading up to this ministry.

    It's also been a humbling experience on a number of levels. Firstly, you figure out real fast just where you are in the spiritual life, and just how far you have to go. Secondly, you notice that those times your ministry bears the most fruit is when you feel as if it is not you who is present to the person, but Christ (almost as though you are an observer to yourself!). Thirdly, you find yourself at the right place at the right time such as to rule out mere coincidence or skill. Then you understand that God has everything planned out to the smallest detail, and that you're merely following his script.

    Nowadays when I attend daily mass or stand in long confession lines I "scout" the other men present to see if any might be good candidates for the ministry. The poor souls have no idea I'm analyzing them and quizzing the Holy Spirit as to their suitability. LOL

    Bless you my good man.


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