May 18, 2012

Evangelization Supplement

Our marching orders from Jesus

Dear Peg,

I’ve been praying and reading Scripture a lot lately. It’s always a wonderful part of my day. There’s something I am struggling with though. It is called the “Great Commission.” It seems so important since it was the last thing Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended to Heaven. Here it is:

“Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age’ ” (Mt 28:16-20).

I’m a regular parishioner in the archdiocese. How am I supposed to do this?


Enthused but Perplexed

Dear Enthused but Perplexed,

Thank you so much for your letter. I can see that you are a person eager to grow and share your faith. The Great Commission is almost a set of “marching orders” from Jesus. You might consider this abbreviated version—we must “go everywhere, baptize everyone and teach them everything.” But how?

  • Go everywhere—Start with your corner of the world around your parish. Parishes have boundaries, and we are responsible in a special way for the people who live within them. Learn who lives there, what their needs are—both spiritual and temporal—and invite them.
  • Baptize everyone—Jesus certainly was not advocating forcing anyone to be baptized. However, we should be trying to invite everyone to baptism. Try to find out if there are people in your area who have never come to know Christ or who have been baptized, but no longer come to worship him or celebrate the sacraments. Reach out to people who once understood their baptismal call, but have since forgotten.
  • Teach them everything—After coming to know Christ, we need to continually deepen that relationship with him through our spiritual activities and knowledge of sacred Scripture and sacred tradition. Seek and help other people to find solid Catholic resources. Listen intently and open yourself to God’s will, especially when receiving the sacraments. Encourage others, too. Focus on being able to explain your faith by learning more about it.

Remember that Jesus didn’t give these instructions to an individual. He gave them to all the Apostles and his Church as a community. So that is where you must begin—in your community, your parish.

This Evangelization Supplement is all about how to gather a team in your parish, and has some real-life examples of how this was done in parishes. Read more in the articles, but basically a parish evangelization team should:

  • Establish good communication with your pastor and those interested in evangelization in your parish,
  • Gather people interested in evangelization, pray together and be formed for the ministry,
  • Set goals for the evangelization team with at least one for each of the groups included in the “new evangelization”—the unchurched, alienated or faded Catholics, and everyone in the pews.

If you are discerning whether God is inviting you to enter into this parish ministry, you might consider the fictional “classified ad” for a parish evangelization team member also in this supplement.

Whether or not you prayerfully discern that this is something you want to do, it is important that we all pray for the evangelization efforts of our parish, the Church in the U.S. and the worldwide Church.

And most importantly, remember that God is with us always until the end of the age.

In faith,



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

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