May 19, 2023

2023 Evangelization Supplement

From local to nearby to national, evangelization resources abound

By Natalie Hoefer

Cover of How to Start (or Jumpstart) Discipleship Groups at Your ParishEvangelization, sharing the good news of salvation through Christ. That’s a task for others, right?

By our baptism, the answer is no, says Archbishop Charles C. Thompson.

“Every baptized Christian is called to holiness and mission,” he told The Criterion in a recent interview. “And that mission is evangelization and catechesis. We’re individually called by our baptism to evangelize.”

That call might seem overwhelming. How do individuals evangelize? How do parishes evangelize? What does evangelization look like?

The answer is actually quite simple, says Ken Ogorek, director of the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis.

“Evangelization is telling your faith story,” he says.

Keeping that one action in mind, there are many resources available to help individuals learn how to share their faith story most effectively in different cases. And there are many tools available to aid parishes in helping parishioners become story-telling evangelizers.

Below are five tools offered by the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to help individuals and parish evangelization teams in their mission to share the good news of Christ’s love, mercy and salvation. For more information on these tools, see the related sidebar.

Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization

First and foremost, the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis is ever-ready “to assist parishes in starting or re-starting parish evangelization teams,” says Anita Bardo, archdiocesan coordinator of evangelization and discipleship.

“We can come out and train parish evangelization teams, we offer workshops, and we have tools available on our website.

“But those tools may not fit in every situation—evangelization is not ‘one size fits all.’ So we’re just a phone call away to discuss each parish’s situation, brainstorm ideas and recommend other resources that might help the parish.”

Still, the resource page on the office’s website is a good place to start, particularly the guidebook, “How to Start (or Jumpstart) Discipleship Groups at Your Parish,” available in English and Spanish.

“The guidebook is to help existing or new evangelization teams by giving them a method that they can start with,” explains Ogorek, who helped create the straightforward, 28-page tool.

“Frankly, very few of our parishes have a core group of people who are being prayerfully strategic about reaching the unchurched and the alienated,” says Ogorek. “They’re doing things here and there that are evangelizing in nature. But we would like to see every parish to be a little bit more intentional and focused on strategic evangelization to make sure we’re not missing opportunities to share the good news.”

The office also offers an annual workshop to help individuals learn how to evangelize. The next opportunity is set for Aug. 5 at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood.

St. Paul Street Evangelization is conducting the workshop—but don’t let the name fool you, says Ogorek.

“The workshop isn’t just about street evangelization. It’s really just helping people gain confidence in telling their story and witnessing to particular types of people in a non-confrontational way.

“Participants will not only hear about good evangelization techniques, but will also have opportunities to practice them that day.”

Ron Greulich has attended the workshop. The member of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis called it “a real eye-opening day.”

“The main thing we learned was how to assess where a person might be—non-believer, non-Christian, non-Catholic or a Catholic who left the Church,” he says. “They gave us examples of how to tailor our story in each of those cases. Then we got to practice what we learned—that took it to a whole new level!

“I recommend [the workshop] so highly for anyone who has a desire to share Jesus. Just take the leap of faith—you’ll learn so much.”

Franciscan University of Steubenville

To help evangelization team members, catechists and interested individuals learn and grow, the Office of Catechesis recommends—and utilizes—the annual, four-day St. John Bosco Conference for Evangelization and Catechesis at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

“It’s like no other,” says Tim Seman, pastoral associate of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes in Jeffersonville.

He describes the conference as “a place to learn from the best people in the field, to grow, to meet other people in the same field as you, doing the same work you do and discussing successes and ideas.”

The conference, held each year in June, offers a variety of workshops and talks.

“Although most people who go work for the Church, any Catholic is going to find something beneficial to them,” says Seman. “It’s very much like a retreat as well, with Mass, confession and adoration,” he adds.

He also recommends another Franciscan University resource: Franciscan at Home, offered through the university’s Catechetical Institute.

The archdiocese has partnered with the Institute to make this online tool available to parishes in central and southern Indiana.

“It’s really an extension of the St. John Bosco Conference,” says Seman, who worked for the Institute for two years. “Not only are a lot of the talks from the conference available, but it has a wide variety of tracks made up of a number of workshops, each with videos and guides you can print out.

“The workshops for each track are so formative that you really can’t find anything else better, outside of going for a degree.”


As the chairman-elect of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Archbishop Thompson has been familiarizing himself with the committee’s mission, efforts and resources.

The group’s website offers nearly a dozen topics and tools under its “Resources” tab.

In 2017, the committee published “Living as Missionary Disciples.” Different from the how-to nature of the archdiocese’s guidebook, this 38-page document lists points for parishes to consider when forming an evangelization team. It also addresses the nature of what St. John Paul II called “new evangelization.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re saying anything new,” Archbishop Thompson explains. “Our message is always the Gospel, Christ, the good news of salvation.

“The new evangelization means finding new ways to proclaim it. How do we proclaim the message to our particular time and culture? What are the different ideologies and the agendas that we’re facing today? What new tools do we have to help in this mission?”

The document also offers questions for reflection on the four “cultures” a parish evangelization team needs to nurture for effective discipleship: encounter, accompaniment, community and sending.

“It addresses how do we create those cultures, both for individuals and communities,” says the archbishop. “How do we create a culture where individuals and parishes encounter Christ? How do we prepare them for a culture of accompaniment? How do parishes reach the variety of people that make up their community? How do they prepare them to be sent out to witness?”

Another USCCB evangelization resource deals specifically with outreach to the “unaffiliated”—those who claim no religious affiliation.

While the “Outreach to the Unaffiliated Discussion Guide” and “Field Guide for Leaders” were written for bishops, “both can be helpful to parish leaders,” says Archbishop Thompson.

“I think for this and a lot of these documents is the bottom line that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to evangelizing. You have to look at your community, your parish. I think that’s important.”

Finally, Archbishop Thompson notes the connection between evangelization and the National Eucharistic Revival.

“In fact, it’s a sub-committee of Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis,” he says.

The coordinating organization for the three-year revival “is creating resources and putting them on the website all the time,” he adds. “They’ve done some very nice stuff.”

In addition to a podcast, the site offers numerous videos—including one that featured Archbishop Thompson, and another in the works that includes him.

The connection between evangelization and the revival is direct, he says: “The Eucharist is the core of who we are and what we do, so it is the source of evangelization.” †

Local site Links: