WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Evangelist and Missouri radio host Patty Schneier encouraged Holy Trinity parishioners to evangelize friends and neighbours at every opportunity.
SPRUCE GROVE — Evangelizing is done best through example, says Patty Schneier, a wife, mother of three, cantor and radio show host from Missouri.
Since her conversion in 2002, Schneier has used everything at her disposal, especially her enthusiasm for the faith, to evangelize her children, neighbours and whoever crosses her path.
She got her pastor to start listening to Catholic radio and has gotten dozens of people interested in the rosary, which she prays — sometimes using her fingers - while emptying the dishwasher or mowing the lawn. In airports, Schneier opens her Bible in the hope somebody will ask, "What are you reading?"
"There are two words used a great deal by Jesus in the Gospel. One is 'come.' The other is 'go.' It's no use coming unless you go," she says. "And it's no use going unless you come."
Christ, Schneier says, calls us, as he did his Apostles, to make a commitment, a lifetime decision, for him. "Then we are sent forth to draw others to him through our example. First come; then go.
"That sums up my entire spiritual journey — the journey of coming closer to Jesus and then going out and sharing this with others."
Schneier, who spoke to parishioners at Holy Trinity Church Feb. 27, was a "cafeteria Catholic" until 2002, when she says she fully converted to the faith.
Her discovery of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body marked the beginning of a new life in Christ, the beginning of a renewed marriage and the beginning of a new ministry.
Daily Eucharistic adoration, daily Mass, the rosary, the lives of the saints, the Bible and Catholic books are now an important part of Schneier's life. She carries Catholic literature in her bag wherever she goes.
Some 70 people came to hear her at Holy Trinity. Throughout her hour-long talk — titled, of course, Come and Go - she encouraged participants to use every opportunity to evangelize their children and neighbours.
"Think about this in your life. What are you passionate about? What is it about the Catholic faith that you love most? Start with that."
For her part, Schneier is most passionate about Catholic radio and the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel in her parish. "I can tell you I would drop everything in order to share with people about our Eucharistic adoration chapel."
One day she was dressed as a penguin at a children's function. When a group of women approached her and asked about the adoration chapel, Schneier immediately took off the penguin costume and left with the women for the chapel.
Another time she went to her hairdresser to streak her hair and the hairdresser expressed interest in a prayer booklet Schneier often carries. She looked in her purse and the booklet wasn't there. So she went home to get it with the streaking cap still on her head. Schneier knew she looked foolish but she said, "Sometimes you have to be willing to be a fool for Christ."
While driving a group of children to school or to a soccer game, for example, Schneier will use the opportunity to talk to them about the faith.
She may start by asking one of the children his name. If the child's name is Gerard, she would say, "Do you know that St. Gerard is the patron saint of pregnant mothers? Do you know your mother was probably praying to St. Gerard when she was pregnant with you?"
To her own children she will say, "I'm going for Confession. I think you should go too."
Schneier also uses her home to evangelize. The first thing one would see as one enters the Schneiers' home is a tapestry of the Virgin holding the child Jesus. She also has crosses discreetly placed as well as photos of popes, bishops and cardinals on her walls. A Bible is always on top of her coffee table.
During Lent, she makes a shrine in front of her fireplace with images of Christ's passion. "Think about ways you can evangelize in your own house."
When the Schneiers go on vacation, they always find the local Catholic Church and attend Mass with their children. Sometimes they intentionally visit national shrines like the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. "We invite other families to go with us."
In their effort to evangelize, the Schneiers make things like movies or processions into an outing, something special. When the pro-life movie Bella was released, Schneier took 30 people to the movie theatre and after the show, the whole group came to her home for dessert.
The rosary is another good way to evangelize.
"I discovered the rosary in a whole new way with every single bead (in the rosary) being an intention for someone or something that I need to pray for," Schneier said. "When somebody says, 'Would you pray for me', I look at them and I say, 'Yes, you will be a bead in my rosary. What bead do you want to be?' I ask 'What mystery do you want me to pray for you?'"
To say the rosary, you don't need a rosary. "All you need is your 10 little fingers to pray all day; you can pray the rosary while emptying the dishwasher, when you are mowing the grass or while mashing potatoes," she said.