May 6, 2011

Evangelization Supplement

Evangelization efforts from Rome to home

By Peg McEvoy

Peg McEvoyEvangelization isn’t just about “those folks out there.” We may have family members or friends who are Catholic, but seldom come to the sacraments any more. We probably know someone who is searching for their spiritual home. Many of us want to reach out in faith to someone, but just aren’t sure what to do.

This reality has not gone unnoticed in the larger Church. There is a connection between what happens in our own parishes and in the priorities set by the Holy Father.

Pope Benedict XVI has formed a new office at the Vatican—the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. At first, this office may sound pretty far removed from everyday parish life, but it has importance for Catholics everywhere.

As the Holy Father explained when he created this new office, “There are regions of the world that are still awaiting a first evangelization; others that have received it, but need a deeper intervention; yet others in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving rise to a true Christian tradition, but in which, in recent centuries with complex dynamics, the secularization process has produced a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church.”

What is our experience in the United States and, more specifically, in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis?

Many bishops from around the world will be meeting in a synod in Rome in 2012 to talk about the new evangelization. They will share the experience of evangelization in their home dioceses. Through this process, they will provide some guidance on how to increase enthusiasm and improve methods of Catholic evangelization.

So what is new about Catholic evangelization? It is not the message of evangelization. We are still called to share the Gospel. Our Church has always evangelized through its words, works of charity and social justice, commitment to life and sacramental celebration. However, given the pressures of our culture, we need to reinvigorate our efforts. As Blessed John Paul II said, evangelization needs to be made new in ardor and methods.

There are certainly new methods being used in the Vatican. You may have heard of Pope Benedict’s Facebook page or channel on YouTube. However, despite all the digital communications and social networking in the world, we know the parish is still the center of evangelization. It is the people of the parish who touch the lives of those in need.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, we are reorienting the Evangelization Commission to be focused on the work of evangelization in parishes. The commission will help identify the best practices in evangelization for parishes.

In this supplement, you will read real stories of conversion, of how Catholics live out their faith in ordinary life. In each case, it takes individuals and communities to reach out with Christ in faith. For parishes, it takes a team of people coming together with the pastor and/or staff to assess their needs and set reasonable goals, always using methods that reach out with the love of Christ.

Once these things are in place, the Holy Spirit will most certainly guide the parish in authentically Catholic evangelization. In the words of St. Bede, “Unfurl the sails, and let God steer us where he will.”

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

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