Wanna be a Catholic street preacher? Why not!
By Glenda Awikiak – DWU journalism student
Interview with Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME – Divine Word University Chaplain
Fr. Giorgio, have you come across lone street preachers in Madang town?
Not actually here in Madang since my activity here is almost completely confined to the DWU campus; but certainly in Port Moresby when I was there in 2006-‘11
Do you agree with street preaching and preachers?
There is nothing wrong with the practice of street preaching as far as it is done in a respectful manner. The contents of the preaching, however, may be subject to a different evaluation on a case by case basis. I suppose that people practicing street preaching have an intention to convey a good message and call the public to faith, conversion and good behavior. Therefore I basically agree with street preaching.
Why do you think that the Catholic Church does not engage in this practice of street preaching?
Traditionally street preaching is not practiced in a massive way by the Catholic Church. There are instances, however, of street preaching. Recently the Catholic Bishop Alotau mentioned in a Circular letter to his diocese, as part of the activities developed during the Year of Faith (Oct. 2012-Nov. 2013), a “Friday evening visitation and preaching at the Alotau Government Transit House” and “the Sunday preaching at the Alotau market”. These activities are probably bound to increase also for the Catholic Church as a way of meeting people where they actually live, especially when they normally don’t come to church. Something similar is being done through media, especially radio e television trying to reach out to people in their homes. In this the Catholic Church has always been very active. For the Catholic Church, however, preaching mostly takes place in the context of the liturgical celebration, especially during the Eucharist celebration as a comment and actualization of the Scripture readings. Prolonged public preaching in the public space is not that common, but it has always been practiced by individuals and groups, and may still increase in the future.
As a preacher, what would you say about the quality and effect of street preaching on the people’s life compared to your way of preaching in the church?
Again, it all depends on the contents being conveyed. If the contents are meaningful and correct, street preaching certainly has a positive effect. I personally never practiced street preaching, but I suppose it entails lengthy preparation, accurate exposition, good verbal and vocal skills… Certainly street preachers need not to only repeat what the Bible says, because in that case most of the people can read it by themselves, but to apply Bible teachings to people’s life, present situation, etc. Furthermore, we know that the language of the Bible is that of the time and it is the message that needs to be brought out. A street preacher cannot be improvised overnight. He or she needs a very deep knowledge, understanding and experience of the message of salvation. When that is there, in my opinion street preaching is to be encouraged and appreciated.