Blake Brooks is a seminarian for the Diocese of Puria. He is studying at Mundelein seminarian and he is part of the 2018 graduation class in which God willing he will become a priest. In Spring 2015 Blake leaded an interesting visit to Madison Wisconsin university and here are the questions I asked him about it.
1) I know you led a mission trip to Madison. How did everything started?
Well, I learned how to do this from my previous seminary, Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. They have done these evangelization trips for the last six years and I just modeled our trip off of my experience on those trips. There was a couple of us that kind of set everything up and invited guys to do this trip. We got about a dozen guys together for a day trip in the fall to go to Northwestern University and had a good experience there which laid the foundation for this two day trip to University of Wisconsin.
For these trips the first thing we had to do was contact the head chaplain at the University and see if they would host us. Once we got everything squared away with him and his staff we could start to invite guys personally. We had four 45 minute training sessions leading up to the trip, so that we could equip guys who had never done this kind of evangelization before and share best practices. We would end every meeting with 10 min of lectio divina because contemplating the face of Christ is necessary for evangelization.
2) Why to go to a university to do evangelization?
It is a place for ideas and at a time when many students are searching for direction in their life. It’s also like Paul going to Athens and all around the world. He realized the power of the Gospel and its relevance for all people everywhere. Also, we seminarians are around the same age as the students and know what they are going through in life. It is a great opportunity to connect with people from our generation and to find out where they are at.
3) Why did you evangelize in pairs?
The pairs come from scripture, especially in Mark 6 and Luke 10. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs and He knows what works best. I think Jesus sent them out in pairs so that they could encourage each other and support each other is the mission. We have found that it is good to have different personalities grouped together because each person has their own personality and gifts by which to connect with others. When you have two different personalities it increases the amount of people you are likely share something in common with.
4) What richness do you bring back home with you because of this experience?
I think most guys come back with a real surge of confidence in talking to others about faith and religion. They see that they can connect with others and that their experience of faith is something that can help others. We can see the Holy Spirit working in very concrete ways and come to really believe that Christ is at work in our lives. It allows guys to really grow into leaders and have the confidence to start initiatives like this in their own diocese and/or parish. The adage is “faith grows when it is shared”, and the only way to learn this is to start sharing it.