August 27, 2021

Coordinator of evangelization, discipleship seeks to build parish teams

By Natalie Hoefer

During his time as a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary on a college campus, Sam Rasp witnessed a young man who demonstrated how not to evangelize.

“His mode of evangelizing was to sit in the campus Catholic center and wait for people to walk in,” recalled Rasp.

“That’s not the way to evangelize. It’s to go out into the pasture and be where the people are.

“Pope Francis in [his apostolic exhortation] ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ says people say it’s for professionals to evangelize. But it’s for every Catholic to fulfill Mt 28:19”—that is, to “Go and make disciples of all nations … .”

As the new coordinator of evangelization and discipleship for the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, 27-year-old Rasp will assist parishes in helping individuals “go and make disciples.”

Such has been his own work for the last five years as a FOCUS missionary, evangelizing Catholic college students and teaching them how to do the same.

Along the way, he learned that evangelization “at its core is inviting people into a personal relationship with the Lord and helping them discern truths of the faith.”

His journey started as a seminarian for the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky., for two years at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis, studying at nearby Marian University.

After two years, Rasp discerned out of the seminary. He continued studying at Marian, earning a bachelor’s degree in theology with a minor in philosophy.

He then embarked on his five-year journey as a FOCUS missionary from 2016-2021. Along the way he met fellow missionary Elizabeth. The two started dating in 2017 and married in 2019, all while continuing in their roles as missionaries together.

Now, Rasp is eager to start “helping to equip parishes to be able and willing to help organize peers—both inside the parish and outside—into faithful disciples.

“I’m here to bring some helpful guidance under Archbishop [Charles C.] Thompson’s vision in the pastoral plan, to be a contact for each parish to help start an evangelization movement within parish boundaries.”

Rasp, who took the coordinator position in June, has already taken concrete steps.

“I’ve started meeting existing contacts in parishes and started building relationships and brainstorming what they can do next,” he said. “I’ll help training their evangelization teams to reach out to the unchurched.”

One method he’ll employ is the use of small group Bible studies within parishes.

“These faith sharing groups will build community based on evangelization to reach those on the outskirts,” he said.

As he makes strides in his new position, Rasp plans to take strokes at his favorite pastime, golf, as well as disc golf and ultimate Frisbee.

“Of course, my number one favorite way to spend time is with my wife,” he noted. The couple, members of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, enjoy board games, discovering local coffee shops and hiking. He’s also taken up the hobby of “making things,” including a coffee table, a raised garden box, and more projects to come.

Rasp said he has enjoyed a warm welcome in his new position.

“Everyone has been receptive to what I have to say, both at parishes and here” at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis.

“We’re glad Sam’s on board to help our 126 parishes establish and maintain evangelization teams,” said Ken Ogorek, who as archdiocesan director of catechesis collaborates on various evangelization and discipleship efforts. “As more parishes get these discipleship-focused teams in place, our overall outreach to the unchurched and to alienated Catholics will multiply nicely by God’s grace.”
 

(For more information on the services offered by the Office of Evangelization, go to evangelizeindy.com.)

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