In order to assist parishes to bring themselves into step with the early mandates of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and our current Holy Father, Pope Francis as well as our Bishop Ronald W. Gainer the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization suggests the following step-by-step approach to assist parishes in becoming evangelizing parishes.
Initially, it would help if the parish leadership reads several helpful documents and books. Besides the documents of the Popes and Bishops, several books by Paulist priests have wonderful insights regarding Evangelization. Perhaps, the first one of these to beread is, Sowing New Seed by Father Frank DeSiano. www .paulistpress.com This book brings to the fore the impact that Evangelization will have on parish life.
Jesus wisdom of not putting new wine into old wine skins certainly applies to a parish set upon renewing itself so that an evangelization process can begin. So it becomes important that a parish examines its “skins” to see if they can accommodate new wine. Periodically, a parish needs to assess its parish life to discover if all its ministries and organizations are fulfilling the spiritual needs of all people in its community including the faithful, inactive Catholics, those baptized who are not Catholic and the unchurched. The Evangelizing Catholic by Father DeSiano provides models to help a parish get started.
Steps for Parish Evangelization
After a parish, under the direction of the Pastor, assesses its ministries and organizations, it might be helpful to form an Evangelization Committee. It is the responsibility of this committee to work with the Pastor to provide for the spiritual nourishment of the parishioners and suggest ways to reach out beyond the walls of the Church.
An important task for the Parish is to integrate the three goals proposed by our Bishops to promote parish evangelization. The first goal listed by our Bishops is a tremendous challenge. Much thought must be given as to how to make parishioners enthusiastic about their faith so that they want to reach out to share their faith with others. Besides a parish’s own ideas, there are many organizations that provide programs or processes to accomplish this. The Pastor and Evangelization Committee must realize that, no matter which process is selected, the leadership of the parish must invest themselves fully. Bringing in an outside group with a terrific process will only succeed in proportion to the enthusiasm and participation of the priests and parish leaders. Some of these processes are available and can be found on the American bishops conference web site www.usccb.org