The Church of the Holy Spirit in St. Matthews has a simple message for its surrounding neighbors: “We are here for you.”
The parish, located at the intersection of Lexington Road and Cannons Lane, has launched a campaign called “Door to Door: We Pray.”
The idea behind the prayer campaign is twofold: to let neighbors know the church is there and available to them and to solicit prayer requests from households, said Father Fred Klotter, pastor of Holy Spirit.
“We just say ‘hello’ and introduce ourselves, tell them the parish is here and ask if there is anything we can do. It’s really an awareness of the parish,” he said in an interview at the parish last week.
Father Klotter said parishioners go out two-by-two to households in the confines of the parish boundary. On average, about one or two groups go out each week.
“It’s not a big, fast effort,” Father Klotter said of the campaign, which began in June.
“It may take a year to complete with winter.”
One person generally does the talking while the other parishioner takes down the requested prayers.
If someone is not home, parishioners leave a simple flier with basic information about the parish and a letter from Father Klotter explaining the reason for the visit.
So far the response has been positive.
Father Klotter said once people realize parishioners are not trying to sell them anything or asking for money but instead seeking prayer intentions, they are more receptive.
“It’s not about asking but giving,” Father Klotter said.
Betsy Dunham, director of lifelong formation and religious education at Holy Spirit, agreed that once people hear the parishioners are just seeking prayer requests their demeanor changes and they open up.
“They usually have something on their mind. They open up quickly,” Dunham said.
And the prayer requests have ranged from general prayers of good health to simple prayers of thanksgiving to prayers of healing wounded relationships.
Each week the prayer requests are collected and distributed to the parish’s prayer group. They are also posted in the lobby of the parish. A general prayer of remembrance is offered during the intercessions of most Masses for the prayers gathered on the prayer walks, Father Klotter said.
The idea originated with Holy Spirit parishioner Rose Schaeffer. She approached Father Klotter earlier this year after she heard of another group doing a similar project in Cincinnati.
“I came back and thought ‘I can do that.’ It’s not confrontational; we are just asking to pray for them.”
Schaeffer said it’s been an important ministry for her because she felt like God was calling her to connect more with others.
“We’ve been hearing about evangelization for so long. I’m not a real social person but I felt like God wanted me to reach out. Even though I don’t have long conversations at the door
I know I’m touching them in some way,” she said.
Schaeffer, who joined Holy Spirit about a year and a half ago, said the ministry has helped her get to know more people in her own parish as well.
When Chester Misbach heard about the prayer campaign at Mass he volunteered for the ministry the same day.
“I’m the type of person that likes meeting new people and talking to people, so this is perfect for me,” he said. “The idea of going door to door to offer prayer for intentions and introduce the parish to people” was appealing.
Misbach said he thinks the prayer campaign is an important ministry for the parish because it answers Pope Francis’ call to evangelize.
“I think it just gets people out of the pews and doing something to bring Christ to others, which is what the CSA (Catholic Services Appeal) is about and what the pope has asked us to do. And, it’s done in a non-threatening way,” he said.
The church has even purchased a billboard on Frankfort Avenue that bears the message: “The Church of the Holy Spirit offers its blessings and prayers for the people of Louisville.”
It also lists the parish’s website, phone and Mass times.