The Catholic Sentinel recently published an uplifting piece entitled, “Friar who evangelizes in the mall: ‘‘We are an absolutely passive church,’” on Dominican friar Fr. Tony Wall. Rather than passively wait for people to come to him, he sets up shop in a mall in the Portland area where he engages shoppers every day.
“People are hungry to have the Church stand up and say, ‘Come, come, come,'” Father Wall says. “I think every big mall in the country should have a Catholic presence. All I think the Church needs to do is rent a chair and have a priest sit there and have a sign that says, ‘Have a question? Ask a priest.'”
I’m not sure how many malls in the country have something like this, but one that springs to mind is St. Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center in Boston, run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, an IRL affiliate, for over a quarter of a century.
Last time I was there, I think there was an Au Bon Pain on one side and a Dunkin Donuts on the other. But once shoppers and businesspersons step inside, they are in God’s house. The chapel has Masses, devotions, and Confessions going on all day, meeting busy people where they are. What an impressive manifestation of the “new evangelization.”