August 19, 2016

Evangelization Supplement

Who Are Your U’s, A’s and P’s?

By Ken Ogorek

Ken OgorekChances are, in your neighborhood, you’ll find folks who are unchurched, folks who are alienated from their Catholic faith for one reason or another, and folks you could describe as practicing Catholics. Each of these three groups needs a different outreach from you.

An outreach from me?

You might have missed the memo. Just in case: Jesus, as he ascended to our heavenly Father, told us all to be disciple-makers (Mt 28:18-20). Making disciples is easier when you know your audience.

The Unchurched: Some folks in your neighborhood, practically speaking, have no church home. They never really have. It was never instilled in them that gathering with sisters and brothers of our heavenly Father regularly to worship him, and experience his grace in a special way is an important habit to develop and sustain. They’re not bad people. God doesn’t make bad people. They have failed, though, for one reason or another, to put a high priority on connecting in an intentional and focused way with fellow members of Christ’s body.

The Alienated: Author Sherry Weddell reminds us never to accept a label in place of a story. Each alienated Catholic has a story. Somewhere along the way, the living faith of their youth was choked by weeds, damaged by a careless act or cast aside based on a misperception of who and what our Church is.

Jesus prays that his disciples will always be united with each other just as he is united with the Father and Holy Spirit (Jn 17:11). Our Lord wants alienated Catholics to return to the fold, and he wants you to play a role in that journey of reconciliation.

The Practicing: People who attend Mass regularly, who pray daily, who essentially obey the precepts of the Church (even if they can’t list them offhand) can be described as practicing Catholics. They might even be enthusiastic, fervent and devout.

Even practicing Catholics, though, need ongoing evangelization. We need to be reminded that salvation from sin and death is ours due to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. That he is the reason we have a Church, celebrate Mass, and play CYO sports. Only a relationship with Jesus gives life its deepest meaning and assures our eternal happiness. Only disciples of Jesus obey his command to make disciples because you can’t give who you don’t have.

Mind Your U’s, A’s and P’s

Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” reminds us that “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you” (#164). The unchurched need to be enlightened. The alienated need to be freed. The practicing need to be strengthened in their life of Catholic faith.

Who will do this strengthening? Who will bring freedom and enlightenment? Ultimately Jesus will. But he has commissioned you to go and make disciples, to encourage and equip each U, A and P in your neighborhood to participate fully in the life of our Church, to live the dismissal proclaimed at Mass: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life,” and “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

Know your U’s, A’s and P’s. Be a missionary disciple of Jesus. Do the work of the New Evangelization.
 

Ken Ogorek is catechetical director within the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization. He can be reached at kogorek@archindy.org. †

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