“All God asks us to do is open up our doors” — UPDATED

I got the following press release last week, and it piqued my curiosity:

In response to the over 100,000 visitors expected to pour into Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, located in downtown Indianapolis, will be taking literally Blessed John Paul II’s invitation to “open wide the doors to Christ” by opening its own doors.

Among other things, the church is planning a special devotion the Friday before the Super Bowl, according to the ministry’s website:

The evening will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Father Nagel, followed by a testimonial from former NFL player and Super Bowl champion, Chris Godfrey entitled “Catholic Touchdowns for Life Eternal.”  The evening will conclude with the rest of the holy hour, praise and worship music, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament with Father Nagel. Mark this on your calendars as it will be a draw on the Friday night prior to Super Bowl.  All are welcome!

That’s just for starters.  Visit the site for more. But first, take a look at the remarkable and inspiring video below that illustrates in a dynamic way what this ministry is doing.  The video was produced by Blackstone Films and 19-year-old John-Andrew O’Rourke.  John-Andrew interned for a time with Grassroots Films, the folks behind the award-winning “Fishers of Men” and “The Human Experience,” and the influence shows (which I intend as high praise!)

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UPDATE: The Criterion, the paper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, has more:

St. John the Evangelist Parish, which was founded 175 years ago when Indianapolis was a small town on the edge of the American frontier, will be in the middle of the Super Bowl Village that will host many events at the Indiana Convention Center across the street from the parish and on the streets surrounding it.

Tens of thousands of pedestrians will walk by the church on the streets that will largely be closed to vehicular traffic during the 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl.

There will even be a zip line on which riders can zoom for 800 feet from a starting height of 95 feet. The line ends in front of St. John Church.

When the riders put their feet back down on solid ground, they will see a sign in front of the parish’s 140-year-old church that reads, “If you thought the zip line was a thrill, … come in and spend some time with Jesus!”

Such a sign shows that Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s administrator, and his parishioners see the Super Bowl as a tremendous opportunity to evangelize.

“You can run and hide or you can just jump in,” said Father Nagel, who plans to ride the zip line. “We’ve decided to jump in and do some outreach.

“Our biggest goal is to give people a great sense of the Catholic Church. … If we can be welcoming and let people know that there is so much good and many good young people engaged in the Church, we’ll have had a good 10 days.”

To do that outreach, approximately 70 tour guides called “St. John evangelists” have been trained not only to explain the history, beautiful architecture and other aspects of the church, but also to explain how they embody the Catholic faith.

They have already been put to work in large events in recent months, such as the Future Farmers of America Convention, the 2011 Big 10 Football Championship and the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Several priests will also hear confessions in the church for 28 hours during the 10 days. An “Ask a Catholic” booth will be set up in the church’s narthex in which visitors can get answers to their questions about the Catholic faith.

How cool is that?  Read the rest.


  1. As someone who lives not too far from St. Johns, I can attest to how important the historic church is to the downtown community, and especially the area college students. It’s glad it’s taking advantage of our unique Super Bowl opportunity. And as an NCYC participant a few months ago, I know how awesome it is to see so many people around the church.

  2. Amen, nothing like “meeting them where they are.”

  3. You always post the best videos. Thanks, Deacon Greg, for spreading news like this. You continually give me inspiring videos to share with my eighth grade students–and with other Catholic educators.

  4. I wrote an article about St. John’s planned outreach during the upcoming Super Bowl, including the work of its “St. John evangelists.” They’re tour guides for folks who come through the “open doors” who tell them not only about the history, art and architecture of the church, but also how they all embody the Catholic faith.

    It should be up later today on the website of The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (www.CriterionOnline.com).

    John-Andrew is a great young man from a great family that I know pretty well. But he’s one of a number of dynamic young adults at St. John’s. As Fr. Nagel says at the end of my article, “The new evangelization is alive and well in the heart of our city.”

  5. Here is one of the best they did a few years back and even more in need of being seen today.



  1. [...] 2012 by Deacon Greg KandraRemember St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis?  They launched an extraordinary hospitality campaign during the Super Bowl, opening their doors to anyone and everyone.How’d it go?Take a look. [...]

  2. [...] nabe, stop by and say hello!  Among other things, I’ll be serving as deacon every evening at this gorgeous church.)Blogging will be light, but I’ll look for opportunities to write something, because you [...]

  3. [...] maintained gem in the heart of the city.  The young pastor there, Fr. Rick Nagel, is doing great things with young adult ministry.  I got the chance to meet him one day before Mass and I’m pleased [...]

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