Written by Sherry
Thursday, 05 July 2007 22:31
Luis Palau is a very famous Latin American evangelist known for his gigantic meetings around the world (25 million have heard him speak in "live" events).
These days Palau is doing "festival evangelism" which combines a weekend of national contemporary Christian music groups, motorcross, professional skate boarders with food and Palau's preaching.
Anyway, the Heartland Festival in Omaha this summer will have a new wrinkle: official participation from the Archdiocese of Omaha.
So far, 11 parishes have signed up to participate. I enjoyed these rather militant comments from Fr. Lewis, vice chancellor of the diocese:
"We want strong, active, motivated Catholics who are very secure in their faith down at that festival doing evangelization and speaking articulately about the faith," Father Lewis said. "I would say the archbishop is very pleased with the response from the Catholic community and he continues to see it as a real opportunity to bring back the lost, those who have fallen away and those who've never really heard the message to begin with."
For the first time at a Palau festival, all participants will fill out a card indicating their religious denomination. The cards on which a person states he or she is Catholic or once was Catholic will be given to representatives from Catholic parishes who will follow up after the festival, Father Lewis said.
The archdiocese will have a large tent on the grounds where Catholic literature and items will be available and where priests will hear confessions all day long, he said.
"Initially there was so much fear about whether we were making a terrible mistake by getting involved, but I think it's quite the opposite," Father Lewis said. "I've been overwhelmed by how strong the Catholic response has been. It's certainly going to be a Luis Palau festival unlike anything he's ever experienced before and he's taking a risk by coming into this Catholic town and inviting the Catholics in."
The exact nature of the risk is unclear. A number of strongly conservative Protestant groups are already complaining that Palau has sold out by collaborating with Catholics but I don't think that that is the risk to which Fr. Lewis was referring.