The people of Dulac, near New Orleans, in the USA saw Rev. Antonio Maria Speedy put on a life jacket, on a pirogue — the regional version of a canoe — with a sign that read, “Dulac, come back to Mass!” He rang a bell as he passed by the fishing boats.
The 42-year-old friar said his plan to boost church attendance is slowly but surely paying off.
“This had to be a sign,” Speedy said. “So I while I was praying vespers, I saw that the first sentence was ‘The Lord’s voice resounding over the waters.’ So I figured this very well could be God’s will.”
“We’ve been looking at different ways to evangelize this diocese,” the Australian native said. “One time we did a walking procession over the Intracoastal Canal Waterway bridge from St. Francis de Sales. We also did a Eucharistic procession up Bayou Lafourche in October.”
After photos and videos of his endeavor went viral on social media the friar said some people have been returning to the pews at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Dulac.
Speedy, who was ordained as a priest in 2014, is a member of the Poor Friars, a 34-member religious order under the Catholic Church.
The Poor Friars originated in Italy and established a community in Houma in 2012. Since members take a vow of poverty, the friars don’t have any money and often hitchhike to get around town.