September 17, 2021

Evangelization & Catechesis Supplement

Evangelization and catechesis “resonate” in archdiocese’s pastoral plan

By Natalie Hoefer

2020 Pastoral Letter and Plan CoverWhen Ken Ogorek, director of the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization, looked over the archdiocese’s proposed pastoral plan in March of 2020, he noticed something.

“Of the plan’s numerous action steps for the five main goals, 44 fell under the offices of Evangelization and Catechesis—more than any other archdiocesan office,” he observed.

As executive director of the Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, Father Patrick Beidelman sees the presence of evangelization and catechesis throughout the pastoral plan as “a sign of its quality, that it’s based on the great commission of Christ—to go out to all nations and share the Good News. Flowing from that commission, evangelization and catechesis are a natural outflow of the call to carry on that mission.

“Because so many action steps are related to evangelization and catechesis, the pastoral plan resonates with the Gospel of Christ.”

Sam Rasp, the new archdiocesan coordinator of evangelization and discipleship, attributed the role of evangelization and catechesis in the plan to their importance “to every aspect of the life of the Church—they’re not just two offices or the people who hold those positions in parishes.”

Ogorek, too, noted that, while evangelization and catechesis are “specific ministries that require focused leadership in their own right, they are related to multiple ministries as well.”

One staff member in the Office of Catechesis had a front-row view to the making of the pastoral plan and the role evangelization and catechesis play in its goals.

“I was on the pastoral planning team on behalf of the disability ministry and the catechesis office,” said Erin Jeffries, coordinator of ministry to persons with special needs. “There was a variety of people and backgrounds on the team—priests, schools, offices here [at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center]. It was really a cross-section of the whole archdiocese.”

The process began in September 2018 with the team reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”

“That was foundational to our mission statement and goals,” said Jeffries.

“We also reviewed information from the Connected in the Spirit process and pastoral needs assessments from the deaneries to get a sense of the needs people expressed. People on the team also brought their own needs to the table.

“Evangelization and catechesis really rose to the surface as the needs were discussed. So many of the concerns and needs had to do with parish life, with the decrease in nuns and priests. It was a need seen and very clearly expressed.”

So while action steps in those two areas obviously appeared under the pastoral plan’s goal area of Evangelization and Catechesis, they also appeared in the goals of Prayer and Worship, Stewardship, Family and Community, and Clergy Life and Ministry.

For instance, under the goal area of Family and Community is an objective to “cultivate communities that are centered on invitation and evangelization for people in all phases of life.”

To help carry out this objective, the Office of Catechesis and the Office of Marriage and Family life have an action step to “design and execute a campaign to encourage openness to new life.”

Another example is the goal area of Prayer and Worship, which includes an objective to “cultivate a sense of belonging for all God’s people through liturgical experiences that honor our growing cultural and ethnic diversity.”

Attached to that objective is an action step for the Office of Evangelization and the Office of Communications to “design and execute a campaign to increase Mass attendance percentages.”

Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the number of action steps, the staff members of the offices of Evangelization and Catechesis felt “a spirit of excitement,” said Jeffries.

“It was like, ‘Let’s go! Let’s do this!’ ”

she recalled. “It’s been exciting to see our work confirmed, that our work is important, and that people are asking for it as an expressed need.

“It also enforced for us the number of areas in parish life that catechesis and evangelization touch, how many areas we find our name attached to.

“We really love what we do and want to help parishes with evangelization and catechesis, and we’re hopeful [the pastoral plan] will strengthen a lot of areas of parish life.”

Father Beidelman shares Jeffries’ enthusiasm.

“It’s exciting to see in the pastoral plan action steps and initiatives that might light a fire in the hearts of the faithful to share the Good News and to bring Christ’s healing and strength in a time when it’s so desperately needed.” †


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