January 2014

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January 2014
Dear Ryan,

Well, it’s a new year already. We’ll be writing “2013” for a few more weeks, but 2014 has certainly begun.

In this issue we are happy to offer you an example of Door-to-Door evangelization as done by some folks in the Cleveland diocese. I was happy to visit there in November and met people who have a real passion for this ministry.

I am also offering an essay that might cause some disagreeable feelings. “Is Evangelization Inevitably Elitist?” will raise some questions for all of us Catholic evangelizers. I’ve been asking myself these questions for years, but the arrival of Pope Francis, with his positive and inclusive attitude, made me want to write them out. I trust they will be helpful for reflection and for nuancing some of our attitudes toward evangelizing.

This season brings us a great grace-more time before Lent begins. This allows us to catch our breath as we think of programming before and during Lent. Naturally, we invite you to think about Living the Eucharist, the acclaimed Lenten program that connects our Catholic experience of the Eucharist with our Catholic obligation to evangelize. Check out this program at www.livingtheeucharist.org.

Lent might also be a great time to engage the less-than-active Catholic in programs that help them get in touch with, and renew, their faith. I invite you to consider Awakening Faith as a way to invite folks, particularly of the younger generations, into conversations that help them re-experience their faith in a new way. Also, we are happy to announce two follow-ups for small groups, Deepening Faith and Empowering Faith.

As we intensify our preparation of catechumens and candidates, prepare children for first Holy Communion and Reconciliation, or pursue various kinds of faith formation, we thank God for this new year, and for the renewed opportunities it gives us to extend Christ’s Kingdom through our ministry.

Happy New Year,

Fr. Frank DeSiano

Featured Resource

Do you want to help your parishioners deepen their understanding of the Sacraments? Do you want your parishes to become more aware of the power of God’s virtues in their lives? Do you want to help them connect with other disciples and grow in faith?

  • Deepening Faith: Exploring our Connections through the Signs of God’s Love – Six weeks of sharing on the Sacraments
  • Empowering Faith: Inner Strengths for Believing and Living – Seven weeks of sharing on the Virtues

Groups reflect on a short essay that makes the implications of our Catholic faith available for people. Using successful group sharing techniques, participants easily share their experiences and thoughts, bonding more closely with the group, and bonding more closely to the Church, as a result.

These resources make for a perfect follow-up to Awakening Faith, for Catholics who have reconnected with their faith community. They can help further the faith life of many Catholics, from Young Adults, to Neophytes, to Seniors.

St. Mark Parish, Cleveland, OH
About 3 years ago our pastor, Fr. John Miceli, wanted to reach out to all homes within parish boundaries – not just Catholics (as pastor, he’s responsible for all). So we came up with the idea of a door-to-door campaign – he enlisted the aid of our Evangelization Commission. Here are some of our thoughts on planning door-to-door evangelization and reflections on our efforts:
  • Didn’t want to ‘bible thump’ or hit people over the head – just wanted to reach out to all and let them know where St. Mark Parish was and where to turn if they need help (St. Mark is not on a main street but hidden away in a quiet neighborhood so a lot of people do not know about us)
  • He decided we should make up parish pamphlets – to include a sampling of some of our activities, letter from the pastor and include a school pamphlet to be delivered to all within parish boundaries (the first year we, also, had 5 x 7″ colored postcards included from when we had our Parish directories done; we listed parish name, address, phone number, mass times, school address, phone #, etc.)
  • We started by dividing our parish boundaries in half – since we are split down the middle by I-90;
    • Phase I – south of I-90, would be done the first year
    • Phase II – north of I-90 would be done the second year

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

This questions comes up in several ways very often when dealing with parishes or organizations. It’s a difficult question to face. And one that can easily be answered incorrectly.

I remember asking one prominent leader in evangelization, a priest, if he thought that his parents were evangelized. He shook his head to indicate “no” and explained that he did not think his parents were disciples in the sense in which the Church calls Catholics to be disciples today. This rather stunned me. If they weren’t disciples, if generations of Catholics over centuries, weren’t disciples, then have we developed a very high, almost exclusive, definition of discipleship?

A few years ago, it was popular to cite some words of Pope Benedict to the effect that the Church had to become smaller, had to shrink, in order for really committed Catholics to show themselves and support each other.  This seemed to lead, as I looked at it, to an attitude in which priests were somewhat willing to see Catholics slip away because they weren’t true Catholics in the first place. I remember one bishop bringing this point up to me when I was giving a presentation in his diocese. “What do you say to this?” he asked me. I answered that Pope Benedict has not yet attended one of my seminars!

Compliments of:
Paulist Evangelization Ministries
3031 4th St, NE, Washington, DC | 800.237.5515
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PAULIST EVANGELIZATION MINISTRIES | 3031 Fourth Street, NE | Washington | DC | 20017