May 17, 2013

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

Parishes are a living extension of Jesus Christ

Last October, bishops from around the world gathered in the Vatican for a synod to focus on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.” Their work resulted in some consensus statements that give us insights into the “new evangelization.”

One image that caught my eye was the image of the parish being a “living” place where people encounter Christ.

As individuals and as part of a community, we encounter Jesus in our parish through liturgy, faith formation and charity. Looking at parish “life” in this way gives us an approach to “take the temperature” of our parish.

In addition to Mass, are there opportunities for people to encounter Christ at our parish? Do our parishioners really understand what it means to encounter Christ in sacred Scripture, the sacraments and the teaching of the Church? How many of our parishioners take part in caring for the poor? Is our parish continually building disciples of Jesus Christ?

Last week’s issue of The Criterion included its annual “Evangelization Supplement,” which featured stories on people and parishes that are focused on helping others become even more alive in Christ.

Some approaches could be adapted for use in other parishes. Other methods were specific to a parish’s situation. In each case, however, there is a team working to build discipleship at the parish level.

You can take three actions to advance evangelization and disciple-building in your own life and parish:

Learn more about how to build disciples in your parish. Starting last week and continuing through the end of May, the archdiocese is sponsoring a workshop titled “Dessert and Discipleship: Building a Parish Evangelization Team that ‘Takes the Cake,’ ” aimed at helping parishes jumpstart their own parish evangelization teams. The workshop offers something for every parish, regardless of where a parish is in the process of getting a team up and running. It focuses on how to get an intentional team gathered, formed and moving forward. For more information, log on to www.archindy/evangelization and click on “Dessert and Discipleship” And just as the title implies, there will be delicious desserts available, too!

Read and discuss with family and friends Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization. You can find it at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/disciples-called-to-witness. This is a great resource from the U.S. bishops. It helps us understand our current situation and how to witness to the Gospel in word and action.

Pray for the Church. We must pray every day for our Church on the local, national and international levels. In a recent address, Pope Francis asked, “Do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord’s Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church. … It’s yours. Your Church is [made up of] our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart.” In our prayers, we must entrust the Church to Our Lord, Jesus.

There is no implied order or level of importance in the way these actions are listed. When all three steps are in place, though, I guarantee you will find yourself growing in your ability to witness to the faith and to help build disciples.

Let’s make some room in our hearts and parishes for the Holy Spirit to work, and we will undoubtedly be helping to build parishes and disciples who are living, breathing dwelling places of Jesus Christ.
 

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

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