Advent outreach at Seaport shrine

Illuminated by car headlights and shop windows, Dec. 18, people walked along the streets of Boston's Seaport District, bundled up and moving briskly to escape the cold. The sun had just set, and the city was alive with commuters making their way home.

Outside of Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine, located in the very heart of the Seaport District, a small team of clergy and pastoral staff held prayer cards, offering them out to all who passed by. The doors of the shrine were open, with warm air and Christmas music wafting out. Candles flickered in the doorway, and in the windows a monstrance could be seen, a few people kneeling in prayer in front of it.

"Advent and Christmas are seasons of great hope," said Father Matt Williams, chaplain at the shrine, standing at its entrance.

Just outside, a small evangelization team led by Father Paul Soper, secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, stood passing out prayer cards to passersby, inviting them to go inside, light a candle, and pray.

"There are so many people working here in the Seaport, whether they live here or work here or walk by, who have not encountered hope, who are on the verge of despair, who are seeking hope," said Father Williams.

"We believe and know we have the answer, so it's so important to open the doors wide."

Father John Sheridan, pastor of the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative in the communities of Lakeville, Middleborough and Rochester, was one of those on the evangelization team. Draped in a Red Sox scarf and donning a Patriots hat, Father Sheridan said he was braving the cold "because the Gospel demands it."

"We all evangelize differently, and we all need to get out there more and more... and if it puts us in difficult or uncomfortable situations, that's God's will as well," he said.