By Pete Mathison
Founder of Catholic Evangelization Outreach
The inspiration for CEO came to me at a time in my life when I was begging Jesus to tell me what he wanted me to do. I was depressed, lost, frightened, unfulfilled, empty and longing for a greater purpose in this life. The following is brief overview of how Jesus took my beaten and broken state but willing heart and created Catholic Evangelization Outreach.
On a Monday morning in August of 2010 at my 6:00 am men’s Bible study we were beginning a new study entitled, "Purpose and Passion", by Matthew Kelly. Little did I know that this study was about to change my life.
That morning two points stuck with me: "Change only happens when we change" and "ten minutes a day in the classroom of silence". It makes sense that if you keep doing things the same way you always have you will get the same results that you always have. You must change something in your life if you truly want to change. Ten minutes a day In silence is meant to allow God to speak to us. How can Jesus speak to me if I am always babbling or too busy to stop and listen to him?
I was 52, considered successful in the eyes of the world, and could barely stand living. That Monday I began ten minutes a day in the classroom of silence at All Saints Catholic Church. Three months went by, I had heard nothing until one afternoon the Holy Spirit or Jesus told me to open the song book and sing the Servants Song. As I sang quietly all four verses I wept uncontrollably as I realized I had not been much of a Servant.
My life had been about me, getting ahead, having more and more, living of and for the world; I had become very selfish. This song was Jesus telling me very boldly that he wanted me to serve him and I knew it!!! But what was I to do? and where was I to serve?
It was another three months of ten minutes a day in quiet before I was told what my job was to be. I had begged the Lord to tell me what he wanted me to do. I said I will do anything just tell me please, and this day Jesus spoke to me and said, "Pete what can you do for my people?" I responded immediately with what I had done my entire life by saying, "Lord I can sell". He then told me that I was to start an evangelization ministry in Cedar Rapids and Marion, with lay volunteers, uniting the eleven local parishes by once a month having a lay witness talk at a different Catholic Church.
In my life I had run away from Jesus many times. I recognized that I have been blessed with so much and yet I thought it was me. I new Jesus was asking me to do something that he believed I was capable of doing if I would trust him, listen, follow and do. I realized those 12 apostles from long ago were simple ordinary men, similar to me, who did extraordinary things by allowing God to use them.
Now knowing what I was to do I had to make a choice. Do I turn and run again, or do I commit my heart and my soul to the Lord who had created me for him and allowed me everything I had? I could feel that I had been prepared to now serve as I had found only pain in going on my own. The answer was obvious but yet scary; what if I fail, what if I can't do this? I said, "OK Lord I will create an evangelization ministry, but you have to show me how to do it." He did show me, and he continues to lead CEO.
This how CEO began. The future success of CEO is completely up to the laity of the Church. Jesus says go be disciples of men and women--that is us, the lay people of the church. There is no question it is God's hope that all people will work and witness to one another what Christ has given us.
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