March 15, 2013

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Ken Ogorek

A specific saint and evangelization

Our chief shepherd and catechist, Archbishop Joseph W.Tobin, not only knows a lot about St. Alphonsus Liguori but spent many years serving the religious order founded by this saint—the Redemptorists. What might St. Alphonsus tell us about the new evangelization?

First, St. Alphonsus didn’t neglect rural areas in his efforts. Just as Jesus tells us in the Great Commission essentially to go everywhere, so must the work of evangelization involve all 147 of our parishes and missions in our archdiocese.

Second, St. Alphonsus’ family at times opposed his desire to answer God’s call.

Evangelization acknowledges the pivotal role of families in the life of faith—reaching out to parents especially, encouraging all to bring their children to the Church for baptism and, of course, raising children with a vibrant Catholic faith. Again, in the Great Commission, Jesus emphasizes the importance of baptism.

Finally, on catechist Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s website,, we read that St. Alphonsus Ligouri insisted on the firm treatment of persistent wrongdoers. D’Ambrosio is co-founder of Crossroads Initiative, an apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization.

Remember that St. Alphonsus proclaimed the redeeming love of Jesus. In order to appreciate our need for redemption, though, we must somehow break the news to ourselves and others that we are sinners in need of salvation from sin and death.

Redemption is ours due to the suffering, death and resurrection of God’s only Son, Jesus, the one Savior of the world. That’s a core message of evangelization.

In a culture that often encourages persistent wrongdoing, it can be a tough sell proclaiming that what seems like firm treatment—turning away from sin and believing the Good News—is really a loving response to the ultimate love: God’s redeeming love for each of us. But Jesus challenges us to teach his people everything—including the truth that might hurt a bit.

Sometimes love is tough love. But only the love of Jesus ultimately redeems us. It saves us.

St. Alphonsus Liguori’s life is much too full to explore thoroughly here. But these three connections between his life and Jesus’ Great Commission of going everywhere, baptizing everyone and teaching them everything can help inspire our work of evangelization.

We all need a savior. Thank God for sending us his only begotten Son as our truly Holy Redeemer.

(Ken Ogorek is director of catechesis for the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education. Evangelization is included under his administrative responsibilities. E-mail him at

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