INDIANAPOLIS — At the closing Mass of the “SEEK 2019” conference, Father Doug Grandon offered advice to the 17,000 attendees on how to become effective missionary disciples on campus and beyond. Father Grandon is a national chaplain with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which was meeting in Indianapolis this week for its annual conference.
Father Grandon centered his homily on Monday’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, which recounts Jesus’ arrival in Capernaum to preach and perform miracles in the region. He related this story to his own personal experience of a missionary disciple: his friend Dan, who helped to bring him to Christ.
“What Dan did for me each of us can do for someone else in our circle of influence,” he said.
“Our ‘Yes’ to becoming missionary disciples will make an eternal difference for more souls than we will ever realize.”
Father Grandon then provided three pieces of advice to the congregation on being an effective and productive missionary disciple in their own communities: a commitment to learning and spiritual growth, planning, and reading signs in their own lives.
“Missionary disciples commit to lifelong learning and ongoing spiritual growth,” said Father Grandon. With Jesus, the Bible only tells a few stories about his childhood and training, but there are many stories of Christ beginning his messianic ministry, he pointed out.
The move to Capernaum to begin this ministry was significant, Father Grandon explained, as Capernaum was more centrally located than Nazareth.
In terms of his own spiritual growth, Father Grandon spoke of Dan and his Protestant pastor, who led him to embrace a life of Christian ministry. They “taught me to serve, even though I didn’t like that very much,” he explained. At the time, Grandon was a Protestant. He would eventually be received into the Catholic Church in 2002 and was given a special dispensation by the Vatican to become a married priest.
In addition to a commitment to growth and learning, Father Grandon said that missionary disciples “must engage in careful strategic planning” and remain “attentive to providential signs,” much like Jesus did in Monday’s Gospel.
He shared a story of a young woman who came to Denver to follow what she thought was God’s will, yet did not properly plan and quickly ran out of money. Failure to properly plan will make one an ineffective missionary disciple, he said.
Father Grandon told the hall that a recognition of signs and trusting in God’s providence were also important, noting that the places in today’s Gospel reading where Jesus preached were “overshadowed by death” in past generations and were often the first to be invaded and occupied. Jesus arrived and changed this, he said, and these cities were the first to witness the “blazing light” of the Gospel and of Christ’s teachings.
“Isaiah’s prophecy was a providential sign” of Christ’s eventual mission, he said.
Father Grandon shared a story of his own reliance on Providence, when he thought he would have to cancel a mission trip due to a lack of funds. He went to preach at a small church, and, miraculously, that church donated exactly the amount that was needed for the trip to happen. This encounter left him “astounded at God’s miraculous providence.”
Referring back to his friend Dan, Father Grandon said his friend eventually visited him in Denver to see him celebrate Mass. The parish, being familiar with his vocation story and Dan’s role in bringing him to God, gave him a standing ovation once they learned he was present.
“Where would I be today if it wasn’t for Dan?” Father Grandon asked.
“Let’s go home. And change the world.”