“Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.” (Blessed Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi 14)
The Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization assists parishes in their mission to be centers of Evangelization in response to the New Evangelization as proposed by Pope Paul VI, Saint Pope John Paul II, our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, and our Bishop Ronald Gainer.
The Parish is fundamentally a place of encounter with the Lord: in the sacraments, its people, its outreach to the poor, alienated, and unevangelized. The central place and action of the encounter with Jesus in the Parish is the Mass. Jesus Christ is the center of the parish, and the parish radiates Jesus Christ.
Evangelization is about becoming a disciple of Jesus, and being a disciple means being in relationship with Him, and the community of His disciples, the Church, through faith, hope, and love. Discipleship is a life long journey, and fruit of the intensive personal encounter with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, making us like the Son— sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. A significant focus for the parish is the formation process to make Disciples.
The fruit of communion with the Trinity and the Church is to invite others into relationship with Jesus and experience God’s saving love (conversion). This is what it means to be what Pope Francis calls a Missionary Disciple. The most powerful witness to and proposal for faith in Jesus Christ is the integrity of one’s life.
Shared discernment and planning (clergy, laity, and religious) rooted in prayer is the foundation for the fruitful outreach of the parish community to those who don’t know Jesus, or who have been alienated from the Church. The parish assesses, plans for, and conducts programs and events to engage its members in reaching out to and accompanying those at the periphery of the Church and society. In this way the parish becomes the place of encounter between Jesus Christ and His lost sheep. The programs and events of the parish are the fruit of evangelizing faith, hope, and love.
Parish Survey Tool: Diocese of Pittsburgh
Parish/Mission Assessment Tool : Archdiocese of Atlanta
Parish Assessment Evangelization Tool: Diocese of Columbus
Parish Welcoming Assessment: Archdiocese of Cincinnati
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:
- To bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others.
- To invite all people in the United States, whatever their social or cultural background, to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith.
- To foster gospel values in our society, promoting the dignity of the human person, the importance of the family, and the common good of our society, so that our nation may continue to be transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ.
The first goal 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 and 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 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: USCCB New Evangelization Resources.
A proposal for the steps of an evangelizing parish is offered by the Diocese of Buffalo.
Alpha for Catholics : IHM Abbotstown, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Joseph’s Mechanicsburg
Christ Renews His Parish: Saint Patrick, Carlisle
Christlife.org: St. Joseph’s Mechanicsburg, Immaculate Heart of Mary Abbotstown, Sacred Heart of Jesus Lewistown
Divine Renovation: Saint Joseph’s Mechanicsburg
Dynamic Catholic: Saint Joseph’s Mechanicsburg
Formed/Augustine Institute : St. Patrick’s York
Integrity Restored: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Landings: IHM Abbottstown, St Theresa’s New Cumberland, St Rita
St. Paul Street Evangelization: Harrisburg, Lancaster, Selinsgrove-Sunbury chapters
Symbolon/Augustine Institute: St. Leos