September 17, 2010

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

Follow Mary’s ‘yes’ to God in evangelization

“Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross”
- Pope John Paul II “Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes,” #4

Mary is the first disciple and the first evangelist. We have much to learn from her.

We see in Mary one of the most essential characteristics of evangelization—saying “yes” to God.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, she was first stunned then confused and then, despite all that, said “yes.”

How many times have we encountered people or situations that called us to be more than we thought we were—when God presented us with an opportunity to say “yes” to participating in his plan?

Often, we—as individuals and teams—can be stunned by the huge need for evangelization—sharing the Good News. Sometimes we can be confused by the “whys,” “hows” and “whens” of evangelization. But just as Mary did, we need to trust in the Father’s love.

Once Mary said “yes,” what did she do? She went out and proclaimed “the greatness of the Lord” (Lk 1:46). The beautiful words of the “Magnificat” are Mary’s expression of hope and the joyful awareness of the enormity of what God has begun through her. This awesome task continues through us, the disciples of Jesus.

When we proclaim the greatness of God with joy in word and action, Pope John Paul II’s prayer above suggests that we may be asked to “account for” or explain our hope and joy.

Are we willing to share the joy of our faith with others, especially our family members and friends?

As a parish, are we sharing the joy of the Eucharist with our fellow parishioners and wider community?

Parish evangelization teams can help keep hope and joy in the forefront of the parish’s hospitality and outreach efforts.

Evangelization includes helping practicing Catholics to understand the faith more deeply and live it more intentionally.

Mary teaches us how to do this as she tells the servants at Cana to “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 1:5). We have said “yes” to God, we joyously proclaim his love and goodness as expressed through his Son, and we need to do what he tells us. If we are to “bring” the Good News to the world, we need to “live” the Good News in the world.

Finally, we know that Mary prayed with the Apostles and other disciples. “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Certainly, we know how important prayer is in spreading the Gospel. But this tells us to “pray with one accord”—with a united effort. We are not just praying for or by ourselves.

As parish evangelization teams, we need to pray from within as individuals and to gather together in prayer to discern, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our focus and goals.

And in God’s time, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will experience in ourselves and our communities “the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. Amen.”

(Peg McEvoy is the archdiocesan associate director for evangelization and family catechesis. For questions or help starting a parish evangelization team, contact her at or call 317-236-1430 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1430.)

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