As many students at Franciscan University prepare for and participate in mission trips and ministries this semester, they are relying on small pocket-sized prayer books that contain the necessary tools for evangelization.
The Missionary Outreach Office at Franciscan University is giving out small pocket-sized black handbooks called “Evangelization Handbook” to all students on mission and ministry teams this semester. These 99-page books are a collaborative effort of Rhett. A. Young, director of Missionary Outreach, as well as students, faculty and staff of Franciscan. The handbook contains every sort of prayer and reflection that could be used as students on missions and ministry teams evangelize to others.
“It was a very organic, very Holy Spirit initiative that I felt like the Lord was putting on my heart,” said Young. “We’ve got to give … people a tool when they’re going out, whether they do Works of Mercy, SENT ministries, do retreat ministries with teens or go on mission trips.”
The main idea was that students would have a small tool that would offer tips and suggestions in their evangelization work, said Young.
“I’m a very visual learner,” said Young, “so I felt like I needed to give our missionaries something that was like right here in their pocket, they could take it wherever they go.”
What was originally thought to be only 30 pages long turned into close to 100. The “Evangelization Handbook” deals with issues that are surrounding the culture today as well as outlining the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, how to pray with lectio divina, how to help people struggling with different vices, a renewal of baptismal promises, and quotes from Scripture, encyclicals and St. Francis, to name a few, said Young.
“The idea would be it would be very Franciscan,” said Young. “So the main point is that if I’m a student at Franciscan University, how can I learn the Franciscan charism, how can I grow in my own personal ongoing conversion, and how can I introduce someone else when I’m on mission to have an ongoing conversion?”
Katie Ice, mission office graduate assistant, said that she liked the simplicity of the handbook.
“I think one of the neat things about the … handbook was (Rhett) wanted to keep it simple, so the actual handbook … it’s got a nice cover, but it’s all black: no words on the front or back,” said Ice.
“We did not, on purpose, put anything on the cover, so if I’m witnessing to someone, I did not want to have something with a cross on it that might intimidate like a non-Catholic, or a fallen-away Catholic, or non-Christian,” said Young.
Young also spoke of its convenience as being a simple pocket-sized handbook.
“You (are) not going to go into the jungles of Ecuador with your manual,” said Young. “It could be in my backpack; I could put it in my pocket; it’s specifically made as pocket-sized.”
As the pilot version, all copies have been made and all have already been given away to students, including some which have been sent over to Austria, said Ice.
Young said 1,000 copies have been made this semester, and his plan is to print out 1,200 copies for next year’s mission teams.
“This is the first time,” said Ice, “and Rhett is always full of new ideas, so it probably won’t be the last.”
Young said, “It was meant as a tool. … I’m finding that the students are using it in many different ways, and I’m sure I’ll find out even more after next week when they all go on mission.”