June 19, 2020

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Ken Ogorek

Reaching out amid social distancing

Ken OgorekThis monthly column is called Worship and Evangelization Outreach. Most of us have been discouraged from reaching out for quite a while.

How have we reached out with the saving truths of our faith even as we tried to stay at home—to be together apart? Our parish catechetical leaders, as well as parish evangelization team members, have answered the call to engage in faith formation and disciple-making outreach.

Points of contact

In many of our 126 parishes, the parish catechetical leader is a key point of contact between families and the broader parish community. In addition to fielding inquiries about religious education sessions, the rescheduling of sacramental celebrations, etc., parish catechetical leaders have taken the initiative to reach out—touching base with parents and families on a regular basis. These leaders have made enhanced use of e-mail, text messages, web meeting platforms and related technological tools, reaching out to the margins of our parishes, helping to keep folks connected to their faith community.

A blessing in disguise?

The suffering caused by our current pandemic cannot be overlooked. Like all struggles, though, this experience has yielded insights and potentially helpful perspectives.

Regarding the sacraments, it’s been necessary to focus more on the essentials and less on the superficial trappings that can sometimes be a distraction from the importance of encountering Jesus in these unique ways and the special grace that sacraments make available to us.

A lack of availability of the sacraments has encouraged many households to develop aspects of their spiritual life that were heretofore untapped. Parish catechetical leaders have reached out to the faithful amid this stay-at-home experience, helping parishioners understand how sacraments are meant to complement a life of deep, personal prayer, fostering a hunger for the sacraments that brings fresh appreciation to these encounters with our Risen Lord.

Personal attention and invitation

Along with pastors, administrators, parish life coordinators and members of various teams and task forces, parish catechetical leaders have reached out personally and individually—especially by phone—to hundreds of parishioners throughout the archdiocese. Women and men, young and old, able-bodied and frail—folks have felt cared for and heard, thanks to intentional outreach by ecclesial ministers, including parish catechetical leaders.

A forward-moving resource

Thanks to our Office of Evangelization, a resource is now available to help parishioners process and reflect on the pandemic experience. This Scripture discussion guide is designed to be used by small groups (in-person or socially-distanced), but it can be adapted for individual use as well as that of a larger group during, for example, a day of reflection (as these types of larger gatherings become feasible again).

The resource, “Rejoicing in Suffering with St. Paul,” can be found at www.evangelizeindy.com. Parish catechetical leaders and evangelization team members will be reaching out to parishioners, encouraging use of this tool for deepening a disciple relationship with Jesus.

As our ability to interact with each other socially increases, let’s continue engaging in the faith formation that has deepened for so many of us during social-distancing times—thanks in large part to the outreach efforts of our parish catechetical leaders. Let’s reach out in turn to our parish leaders, supporting them with our prayers as they stand ready to serve us, always, by God’s grace and mercy.

(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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