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For five weeks this summer, a group of Christendom students and recent graduates returned to campus for a special purpose: to be trained as evangelists and then go out and do works of evangelization in the Diocese of Arlington. These students took part in the college’s first summer of the Frassati Institute of Evangelization, learning how to practically apply their education in the world and truly go out to restore all things in Christ.

Christendom students are known for their evangelization efforts during the academic year, particularly in relation to pro-life and missionary causes. Philosophy professor Mike Brown, who organizes the college’s mission trips program, was well aware of that spirit and wanted to deepen it in a setting where the sole focus would be learning how to better evangelize others. The Frassati Institute was born from that idea, and welcomed many students and recent graduates in its inaugural summer.

Professor Mike Brown (left), dean of students Tim Judge (right) and students during the Frassati Evangelization Institute.

For the first two weeks of the Institute, students engaged in classes with Christendom faculty, learning practical Catholic apologetics and Spanish. After classes, Mass, and prayer time, students took part in applied evangelization workshops, led by director of student affairs Amanda Graf and dean of students Tim Judge, both former FOCUS missionaries.

At the completion of those two weeks, the students engaged in door-to-door evangelization. They began in Front Royal, and then travelled to the Northern Virginia area. The students met many people along their way, from fallen away Catholics to people who had never gone to Church in their lives. No matter the person, the students engaged in conversations that could plant seeds for years to come, potentially transforming lives in the process.

The experience proved to be rewarding for recent alumna Becky Derks, serving as both a capstone to her education and a stepping stone toward her future.

Judge, a former FOCUS missionary, led applied evangelization workshops.

“As a theology major, I’ve learned so many rich truths about the Catholic faith, but the Institute taught me how to wrap them up in a nice little package and give them to people,” says Derks. “It surprised me just how easy evangelizing was and how much we all wanted to continue with it even after the Institute ended. Overall, I was really impressed with how prepared we all were or at least felt during our evangelization works. I think we had a great balance in the classroom between things that were useful for going out on the streets and also things that are useful for life-long apologetics.”

Senior Joshua Butek agreed with Derks’ assessment, but also saw a deeper truth from being in the Institute: the need to evangelize in the family and the home in order to better help future generations.

“All of the works we did were wonderful, grace-filled opportunities, but I have begun to realize that all of the evangelization efforts in which we participated were ‘Plan B’ evangelization, so to speak,” says Butek. “They were efforts to bring in those people who have ‘slipped through the net,’ those people who were not evangelized when they should have been, much earlier in their lives — people who in fact had often been hurt by the very people who should have helped them. For me, the Institute made clear just how important ‘Plan A’ evangelization is: families evangelizing themselves, parents evangelizing their children from the very earliest years by pouring God’s love upon them, and children evangelizing parents by their natural reciprocation of the love which they are given.”

Prayer was at the center of the entire Institute.

Brown, Judge, and others plan on expanding the reach of the Institute over future summers, hoping to reach even more people and train even more students in being ambassadors for Christ. Recent graduate John Martz, who enters the seminary this fall, sees the necessity of this, and prays that it will continue.

“The work was rewarding, and the group was great,” says Martz. “I really believe that this institute will be a real help to Christendom in her mission to restore all things in Christ, and I hope it continues for years to come.”

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