December 15, 2006

Go and Make Disciples / John Valenti

Advent: A time for evangelization

Advent is a liturgical season that highlights the evangelization mission of our Catholic Church.

The Gospel message calls for a need to prepare and be ready. It is a time to convert our hearts and get things right for the Lord.

The term evangelization literally means “to preach the Gospel and encourage conversion to the heart and mind of Jesus.” Preaching the Gospel is the art of delivering a public discourse, sermon or witness on behalf of Jesus Christ.

There are many scriptural examples of effective preaching and evangelization. The elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, and finished building the temple at the command of God (Ezr 6:14). The people of Nineveh were saved from condemnation for those who repented at the preaching of Jonah (Mt 12:40-42).

John the Baptist came preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mk 1:4 and Mt 3:1). Jesus himself went throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the Good News of the kingdom was the central theme of his ministry.

In 1 Cor 1:17, we read the words of the Apostle Paul: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

Our Web site, which is located at, serves as a portal to any one of the numerous ministries offered by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The goal is to be an “online home for Catholics in central and southern Indiana and beyond—to be a tool of evangelization, to draw all people more deeply into the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to help them stay connected to the broad world of our faith.”

The National Directory for Catechesis places evangelization at the core of ministry to fire a new energy and commitment to proclaim the Gospel. Everyone in ministry must appreciate the fact that evangelization and a comprehensive catechesis are in some way part of their own responsibilities.

According to Diana Raiche, director of Religious Education for the National Catholic Educational Association, the expansion of the term catechetical leader is worth noting in the National Directory for Catechesis: “A Catholic school superintendent, for example, by virtue of the catechetical responsibilities, is a catechetical leader.”

Since the Catholic school is a center for evangelization, the Catholic school principal is also a catechetical leader who “plays a crucial role in achieving the catechetical objectives of the parish.”

According to Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, who also serves as an episcopal adviser for the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders, “We do not evangelize and catechize in a vacuum. Even as we affirm and build on culture’s positive elements, we must recognize and confront those elements that are roadblocks to evangelization and catechesis.”

During Advent, we celebrate and anticipate the Good News of the kingdom which will be proclaimed throughout the world. We look forward to being evangelized.

Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God for I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4:43). The time is fulfilled. Repent and believe in the Good News.

(John Valenti is associate director of evangelization and faith formation for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. E-mail him at †

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