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“Ask a Priest: How Can I Evangelize My Protestant Relatives?”
Q: We have our family group chat in Facebook. Not everyone is Roman Catholic, some are Protestants who we think don’t celebrate All Saints’ Day. I want to send Happy All Saints’ Day to the whole family group chat. Is it OK to extend my greeting to those who don’t celebrate All Saints’ Day? My bigger question is, is it OK to keep proclaiming my beliefs to the whole family, Roman Catholic or not? I feel as though there’s a fire in me that wants to keep on proclaiming. And it is also sad when some of our relatives send things that are against the Catholic faith. They offend our beliefs or spread lies about Catholic leaders or beliefs. I want to correct them, lovingly. I don’t want any feud in the family. I just try my best to speak at the right time and in a nice manner. Any advice? – Francesca
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is good that you want to share and defend your faith, including among family members.
You want to be prudent, however, because explicit mention of Catholic feasts in this context might be perceived by Protestant relatives as a provocation.
For now, it might be better to find common ground on which to reach out to the non-Catholics. You can look for opportunities to share how the faith has helped you. This could you do without seeming to force it on others.
It is good to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who will change hearts. It isn’t up to us to “argue” people into the Church.
If someone attacks the faith, you could certainly defend the Church, ideally in a charitable way.
In the meantime, if you feel a burning desire to share the faith, it might be good to channel that desire in positive ways in your parish and diocese.
Perhaps you could get involved in door-to-door missions or teach CCD classes or organize Bible studies. This might be a more fruitful path than debating with family members.
To help explain the faith better, it might help to do some reading. A few suggestions would be: Why We’re Catholic; Youth Catechism; and the Compendium of the Catechism (also online). For a book you might share at an opportune moment, look at Surprised by Truth.
Above all, you might want to pray for the non-Catholics in the family. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead them into the full truth of Christ.
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