Last night Charlotte and I attended a dinner with our pastor and several other parishioners in preparation for our participation in a diocesan retreat on evangelization. Besides a lovely meal, we spent time sharing our stories and our particular interest and involvement in evangelization. We look forward to meeting monthly to continue to plan and pray in anticipation of the March 2019 retreat. This prompted me to search out what we mean by evangelization, something the Church has been engaged in for 2000 years.
What is the New Evangelization?
The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops answers the question as follows: “The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel ‘to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.’ The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.”*
The Diocese of Camden, on their web page states: “We have the vision of evangelization for the Diocese of Camden rooted in the words of Bishop Galante: ‘Evangelization is not a program. It is to bring people into a relationship with Jesus’ We see evangelization as a continuous three-step process. We are invited to live this process and incorporate new parish members into this experience:
- Discovering Jesus through a personal encounter with him.
- Following Jesus, becoming his disciple.
- Proclaiming the Good News is to be a witness of Jesus.”
We were given a gift from the bishop, a book by Chris Lowney, Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church. I confess I approach the book with hesitation and some prejudice as it is written from a entrepreneurial viewpoint. I am allergic to business strategies being employed to share the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world. I will read the book and mark it up and let you know what I discover.
I found another book on my shelf by Dr. Scott Hahn called Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization. I will reread it alongside the other. I will mark it up and let you know what I discover.
The bottom line is, as Lowney states on page 5 of his book, “The apostles were blessed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, not with Harvard Business School educations.” He goes on to say, “Still, whether by intuition or by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, our earliest leaders embodied all the traits that today’s great leaders manifest: they were creative, took risks, adapted to new circumstances, unleashed each person’s talents, never wavered from their core values, emphasized the mission above all, and acted courageously, thanks to the transformation that God’s Spirit worked within them.”
Holy Spirit, guide your Church and may we be your ready servants, completely at your disposition to share the love and mercy of God with our generation!