May 10, 2013

Evangelization Supplement

Evangelization: Simple as P.I.E.? Prepare, Invite, Engage

By Peg McEvoy

As I was growing up, my mom’s pie was revered by family and friends alike, especially her apple pie. She had a knack for making great crust from scratch, and the filling had just the right combination of sweet and tart. Because she did such a great job of making pie, I was a bit intimidated to try it myself. She made it look so simple, but was it really?

Evangelization for Catholics is a bit like making pie. For so many years in the U.S., Catholic culture was filled with priests, sisters, brothers and strong Catholic families who took care of sharing the Gospel. All most of us had to do was follow along. They made it look easy.

Today, however, things have changed, and we are acutely aware that we are “all” called to speak and live the Gospel as disciples of Jesus. Some of us are excited by this reality, but some of us may feel a bit intimidated. Can something so important actually be simple?

Evangelization is about building disciples, those already present in our parishes and those who are not yet present.

Our best example of how to build disciples comes from our Lord. Jesus prepared the way with kindness and conversation. He invited his disciples very clearly, and then proceeded to engage the disciples in learning and sharing the Good News.

In a parish, we can recreate these steps in an intentional way. It will take effort from a focused parish evangelization team and the parish as a whole. Let’s consider how this can be done:

Prepare—This is important! We need to pray for openness and a welcoming spirit as we assess what groundwork needs to be done in the parish.

The parish evangelization team gathers and becomes formed in and informed about the new evangelization.

The parish prepares through prayer, reflection and homilies to welcome and receive newcomers and those returning to the Church.

Invite—Once you’ve prepared, then it’s time to invite.

The parish evangelization team evaluates the needs and plans a campaign to reach out to those whose faith has faded, or who may want to come to the faith for the first time.

Parishioners invite friends and family who have been inactive or are curious about the Catholic faith.

Engage—This step is all about following through on the invitation from Christ expressed by his disciples—the parishioners.

The parish evangelization team works with leadership groups in the parish to hold low-key opportunities for newcomers and returning folks to ask questions, pray and to feel they are or can be part of the community.

Parishioners step up to be mentors to newcomers, ready to help them connect with Jesus and the parish.

These steps need to be ongoing, and may not always be in sequence, but, by the grace of God, these basic steps in a parish will produce fruit.

Because every parish and surrounding community has unique characteristics, resources and needs, the concrete activities will likely look different from one parish to the next. However, the activity of building disciples will bring the same fruit—a renewed faith for all involved.

So back to the original question: Can evangelization be as simple as pie? Yes, as long as we Prepare, Invite and Engage all Jesus’ disciples well.

Now back to the pie. Mine looks a little different than my mom’s and tastes a little different, but my kids think it is the best.

It’s a little like handing down the faith: If we share the timeless Tradition, allowing it to speak to today’s realities, then more will come to know him who is truly the best.
 

Peg McEvoy is the archdiocesan associate director for evangelization and family catechesis. For questions about and/or help starting a parish evangelization team, contact McEvoy at pmcevoy@archindy.org.

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