December 18, 2009

Catholic Education Outreach / Ken Ogorek

Evangelization efforts in parishes are making a difference

“Dear Ken,

“I am writing to update you on the progress of our parish evangelization committee’s efforts. Father asked me to chair an evangelization team. He said that when something is everyone’s job it soon becomes no one’s job, and that evangelization is too important not to have a focused effort in our parish.

“Father and I identified a few people who we knew we wanted to invite to be team members. We then publicized throughout the parish in various ways that a team was forming and invited folks to join this ministry.

“Part of this publicity involved explaining briefly what evangelization is and that Catholics have a major role to play in evangelizing their neighborhoods and communities. Peg McEvoy’s suggestions were very helpful in explaining why we’re forming a team.

“Our first few meetings were spent getting to know each other and discussing the key passages that Peg suggested—the readings from specific Church documents that articulate clearly what evangelization is all about.

“We know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that we must be patient as we start this process. But hoping to move the ball forward, we have modest yet significant goals for the next six months in the three key areas that are the new evangelization:

1) reaching the unchurched,

2) reinvigorating the alienated,

3) refreshing those currently practicing our Catholic faith.

“As our Church says, each of us needs ongoing evangelization.

“You’re a great guy, Ken—charming, handsome, witty …”

This letter is fictional—especially the last part. But it typifies the sort of feedback we are starting to hear based on our efforts to help our 151 parishes and missions see to it that evangelization is a high visibility ministry in their local Church.

Does your parish have an evangelization team, committee or other group that focuses by name on this important part of Catholic life? If so, could the team benefit from your efforts given your enthusiasm for our Catholic faith? If no team is present, might God be calling you to approach Father and offer to head up such an effort?

Several myths and misperceptions about evangelization are alive and well.

For example: “In our diverse society, it’s not really appropriate to get in another person’s business by discussing faith, God, religion, etc.,” or “So long as I live like a good person, there’s never a need to discuss and share my faith and the difference it makes in my life.”

Certainly we must be prudent about when we raise the topic of faith and how we approach religion-related topics in various conversational settings. But thinking that being Catholic and focusing on evangelization don’t go together is simply inaccurate.

When parishes pay suitable attention to how evangelization fits in with various ministries and efforts, the faith community truly grows by God’s grace. A parish evangelization team is an essential part of each local Church.

Peg McEvoy, associate director for Evangelization and Family Catechesis in the archdiocese, and I stand ready to assist you in your quest to make evangelization a lively and visible presence at your parish.

We’re already hearing good results from these efforts in several places. What news can you bring us about evangelization ministry in your parish?

(Ken Ogorek is director of catechesis for the Office of Catholic Education in the archdiocese. He can be reached at 800-382-9836, ext. 1446, or by e-mail at

Local site Links: