"Friendship can't grow unless you commit," he emphasized. However, this type of commitment requires a risk because it demands vulnerability.
And vulnerability is more than just transparency, Fr. Schmitz continued. "Being transparent is like being in a fishbowl. But being vulnerable is like letting people get in your fishbowl," he said. "It's letting them help you. It's letting them challenge you. And it's letting them hurt you."
He told the story of one of his former students, named Anne, who began following a Christian lifestyle while living with members of her sorority. Because of this, her roommates stopped wanting to spend time with her, but she offered up this heartbreak to God for the conversion of friends. Soon, she found opportunities to be there for her roommates in times of trouble.
"One after one, the others just turned to Anne, because they knew her. She had let them see her heart." Fr. Schmitz said that all five roommates eventually joined her Bible study, and three became Catholic.
Fr. Schmitz spoke to CNA about potential pitfalls that may arise when pursuing this vulnerability, warning against sharing too much of oneself too quickly.
"It's not a race to vulnerability. It has to grow," he said.
He also talked about the changing nature of evangelization, the task for which SLS is designed to equip attendees.
"The Church has always had mission as its heart," he said, referencing Pope Paul VI. However, the way this mission takes shape has seen a shift in recent times.
Whereas most work of evangelization previously relied on "professionals," at a time when people were "born into a culture that (was) also Christian," evangelization now takes place "in a culture that is post-Christian." For this reason, he said, we are all being called to be missionaries.
Fr. Schmitz also said that many people in the Church have received the sacraments, but have not been properly catechized, and so they often fall away.
Going forth from conferences and gatherings like SLS, Fr. Schmitz told CNA that he sees the Church responding to a renewed call for evangelization.
(Story continues below)
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The future of the Church will be "Christians, Catholics, coming to know the Lord in a deeper way, allowing the Lord to move their lives in a new way that looks different from the rest of the people around them, and then having to go through the fires, and go through the water, and go through the valleys, and go through the mountain passes and peaks, and saying, 'This is how you actually follow Jesus' in a radical way,'" he said.
"It's going to look totally normal, and yet entirely unique."