From the In My Backyard Desk, a terrific video from CNS (kudos to Katie Breidenbach and Chaz Muth) that gives a glimpse of Franciscans engaging in a little hip evangelization.
First thing you do? Put in glass doors. Really.
The gray robes worn by the Conventual Franciscan friars may not be fashionable in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, but the religious men appear to be fitting in just fine in the heart of “hipster” country. This particular neighborhood has become nationally recognized as a place where so-called “hipsters” live, and it’s one of the reasons why the friars’ ministry is now there. They have established a ministry of presence to help bring the word of God to a segment of society that tends to be suspicious of, or oblivious to, organized religion. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio invited the friars to convert the Holy Family Slovak Catholic Church into the San Damiano Mission in February 2015 as an evangelizing anchor in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint hotspot for “hipsters.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “hipsters” are a subculture of men and women, typically in their 20s and 30s, who seek out countercultural activities, engage in progressive politics, value independent thinking, crave intellectual conversation and have an appetite for art and indie-rock music. “We try not to use that word ‘hipster’ too often, because it’s sometimes thought of as derogatory,” Conventual Franciscan Brother Nicholas Spano told Catholic News Service during an Aug. 23 interview. “Us being here is more than a ministry of presence,” Brother Nicholas said. “We get out of the church, wearing our habits so that it’s obvious who we are and we’re getting to know the people in the area. We’re letting them know we’re not scary or unapproachable. We’re bringing the church to the people in ways they hadn’t considered before.”
Check out the video:
Photo: Ed Wilkinson/CNS