American Catholic lay evangelist and radio broadcaster Gus Lloyd was scheduled to talk to parishioners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lancaster in April 2018 when fate intervened.
His wife, Michelle, became ill and he was forced to cancel his trip.
“Literally 10 minutes before I was getting ready to walk out the door and get on the airplane, I said ‘I’ve got to take you to the emergency room,’ ” he said. “But God works everything out.”
She recovered and, on Saturday, Oct. 12, she will join her husband during a “Day of Reflection” at Sacred Heart, 558 W. Walnut St.
A breakfast at the church will run from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
He and Michelle will then discuss “Magnetic Christianity” at a men’s and women’s mini-retreat from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Following 4 p.m. Mass, they will talk about “Seeds of Grace” from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. A meet-and-greet fundraiser dinner at The Pressroom Restaurant will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Lloyd’s visit to Lancaster is due to a chance meeting in September 2016 with Lancaster countians Rob and Kathy Balasavage and Jim and Marcia Ostrowski, at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
Lloyd saw them trying to squeeze together for a selfie and volunteered to take the photo.
The voice is what caught Balasavage’s attention.
“You sound like Gus Lloyd,” he said. To which Lloyd responded: “I am Gus Lloyd.”
The April visit was canceled, but last October, the Balasavages were part of a tour to Israel that Lloyd conducts annually. Lloyd said the pilgrimages are focused in the areas of Galilee and Jerusalem.
“It was the best trip ever,” Rob Balasavage said.
Earlier this year, Michelle Lloyd joined her husband and 28 others as they walked the second part of a two-year trek on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The hike typically takes about 30 days. Lloyd had walked the first half with a group in 2018.
The Oct. 12 mini-retreat will focus on what Lloyd calls “Magnetic Christianity.”
“We’ve all been very gifted,” he said, by telephone, “so the concept is about taking these gifts and enhancing them in our lives so that we can attract people to Christ. It’s really about evangelization.”
“Seeds of Grace,” he explained, “is really a message of hope for people, especially people who may have family members who don’t practice the faith. Throughout our lives, these little seeds of grace have been planted in us and God will eventually bring them to fruition.
“The second part of that is how do we plant seeds of grace into the lives of others?”
When Catholics receive the sacraments, he said, they are given seeds of grace.
“Any time a person does an act of kindness, that’s a God thing. We never know how these little seeds of grace are going to come to fruition.”
Said Balasavage of Lloyd, “He has a way of connecting with people.”
When asked about the decline in church attendance, Lloyd described the pull of the world as “very strong.”
He attributes part of the decline to the stories about clergy abuse. But he worries less about religious institutions and more about people’s purpose and their souls.
“We as Christians have not done a good job of passing on and spreading the faith.”
One way for Christians to address those shortcomings, he said, is to lead “lives of holiness ... and showing the joy of Christianity to the world.
“If they see us as a bunch of dour, rules-based people, well, who wants to be a part of that?
“So part of my message, is let’s spread the joy and let’s show people what a joyous life we lead as Christians.”