September 15, 2017

Evangelization and Catechesis Supplement

Author to speak in Bloomington on tie between evangelization, catechesis

Theologian and Catholic author Edward Sri gives a presentation on Oct. 31, 2015, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis during the Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference. Sri will speak on the interrelationship of evangelization and catechesis in February at the St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Theologian and Catholic author Edward Sri gives a presentation on Oct. 31, 2015, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis during the Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference. Sri will speak on the interrelationship of evangelization and catechesis in February at the St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Evangelization, broadly understood, is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ both to those who have never heard it, and to the baptized who need to embrace the Gospel more deeply.

Catechesis is the process by which people who have been evangelized grow in their understanding of the faith and deepen their relationship with Christ.

These two important aspects of the life of the Church are deeply interrelated, a fact that Dr. Edward Sri experienced for himself when he was an undergraduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington in the early 1990s.

Raised a Catholic in Munster, Ind., Sri had never walked away from the faith. But he had not lived it with much conviction at that point either.

“I can remember a crucial moment in college when a priest was teaching about the Eucharist and I realized that this isn’t just a symbol of Jesus,” Sri said. “This is really the real presence of Jesus. And knowing that truth and getting that deeper catechesis helped me to give my life to Jesus more, to want to go to Mass more often, to want to go visit him in the Blessed Sacrament.”

It also led him to eventually earn a doctorate in theology, co-found the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), write widely popular books on the Catholic faith and be a Catholic speaker sought after around the world.

Sri currently serves as the vice president of mission and professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute in Greenwood Village, Colo., which seeks to form Catholics for the new evangelization through academics and parish programs.

On Feb. 28, 2018, Sri will give presentations on the faith at the St. Paul Catholic Center, 1413 E. 17th St., in Bloomington. One will be on the interrelationship of evangelization and catechesis to parish catechetical leaders from across central and southern Indiana.

At 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 28, he will speak as part of Hoosier Catholic Week, a week-long evangelization outreach on IU’s campus sponsored by St. Paul. Although geared for college students and young adults, Sri’s presentation is open to the public.

“I always love coming back to Indiana,” Sri said. “And this is a particular joy to be able to come back to the campus that I graduated from and to visit the chapels and parishes that made a difference in my life. I’m thrilled.”

In speaking with The Criterion about his upcoming visit to Bloomington, Sri reflected on the interrelationship of evangelization and catechesis.

“Catechesis is one crucial moment in the larger work of the Church that we call evangelization, which is simply bringing souls into communion with Jesus Christ and ever deepening that communion,” he said. “So, we’re all called to be continually evangelized. We’re called to ongoing conversion.”

Nurturing this continual evangelization and conversion is important in contemporary culture, Sri said.

“Today, there are many of us who have been raised Catholic but didn’t get the formation we needed growing up,” he said. “Or maybe we’ve taken in a lot from the secular culture about what life is about or what it is to be happy, and we need a fresh proclamation of the Gospel in our own lives.”

He also noted that evangelization and catechesis remain relevant even for people who have always been active in their faith.

“Even if I have made a commitment to Jesus and to living out the Catholic faith, the more I come to understand who Jesus is, what he’s revealed, what the Church teaches, the more then I grow in my love for him, the more I can give my life to him,” Sri said.

He also explained that those who pass on the faith to others in both formal settings, such as Catholic schools or parish catechetical programs, or informally, such as parents, grandparents, co-workers and friends, should “always be teaching for conversion.”

The facts about the faith are crucial to pass on to others, he added.

“But am I doing it in a way that is inflaming the fire of faith in a person’s soul?” Sri asked. “Am I giving practical suggestions about how this understanding can make a difference in your life, how it can be applied in your life?”

Sri pointed to the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well (Jn 4:4-42) as a model of how evangelization and catechesis come together.

The woman was a Samaritan who had a different understanding of God than Jesus and the Jews. In their conversation, Jesus gently led her to a renewed knowledge of God and a moral conversion, as well as revealing himself as the Messiah.

“As a result of this loving unveiling of himself, she goes through a great conversion,” Sri said. “She leaves her immoral life behind and starts becoming an evangelist, telling others about who Jesus is.

“I think it’s a wonderful model. We live in a day and age where a lot of really good people are a little fuzzy on doctrine or on moral principles. We want to bring Jesus to them so that they don’t just get clarity. It’s clarity around which they can order their lives around Christ and surrender their lives more to Christ.” †

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