January 2018 Evangelization Exchange – Jackson

Christmas Evangelization through Caroling

By Emily Jackson

In one of my favorite Christmas movies, the title character joyfully proclaims that “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” This year I was able to experience that for myself while caroling with my parish in Washington, DC.

My husband and I are active in Young Adult ministry at our parish and helped plan our caroling outreach. We made song booklets and reached out for information on homebound parishioners who we might be able to visit. For our carolers, we recruited young adults and other parishioners by tabling at Mass and utilizing email distribution lists and a custom website. Many would-be carolers were concerned that they were not cut out for caroling, or really any public singing. However, when we all came together, everyone found their voices and the group sounded great—especially when singing Good King Wenceslas (“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine!”). We were led by our pastor, and everyone was filled with a rejoicing spirit.

While caroling we had many wonderful encounters: listeners bringing us cookies, a Presbyterian church inviting us in for a meal, people waving at us from cars, and passerbys requesting songs. We even had someone ask if we were accepting donations, which we politely declined.

Working for PEM, I spend a lot of time thinking about ways for parishes to effectively evangelize. I wanted to make sure that we were able to welcome people in the neighborhood to our parish while caroling. I designed a small handout with the Christmas Mass times and tied candy canes to them. We gave these out to anyone who stopped to listen or whose house we visited. We started with forty but soon ran out! Thankfully we had extra components with us and made more along the way.

Often as Catholics we struggle to find ways to evangelize within our own communities. We want to invite and welcome our neighbors, but it can feel daunting. Caroling provided an easy and fun way to spread the Christmas spirit throughout our neighborhood, while also inviting people to visit our parish. While we have a long way until next Christmas, consider planning a caroling outreach in your parish next Advent or Christmas season!