March 2013


March 2013
Dear Friend,

Our minds are already turned to Easter which comes so early in our calendar this year.  Yet we have to resist rushing to “Easter” so quickly that we end up short-changing Lent.  Lent, after all, gives us time to explicitly reflect on conversion-individual conversion, to be sure, but conversion that also happens in groups.  After all, we are disciples together, and the Holy Spirit uses the influence we have on each other to shape each other.

Our “Elect” are part of the influence upon our Church.  These women and men have been touched by Christ in distinct ways in their adult, conscious lives: they have felt drawn to our faith.  They challenge us to identify, in ourselves, those points of conversion, of distinct change, that continue to happen in our lives through the work of Jesus’ Spirit.  Even more, they urge us, as catechists and pastors, to call our sister and brother Catholics to conversion.

On behalf of all of us at Paulist Evangelization Ministries, I wish you a deep sharing in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus-his death, Resurrection, and Sending of the Spirit-which is the core of our Catholic faith, and the Good News we have to share.

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

Pope

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

With so many pundits going off about the next pope, it might be an interesting exercise to ask: what if the basic criterion for the next pope was evangelization.  What kind of qualities would a pope like this have?

  1. He would build his ministry on the foundations laid by the Synod on the New Evangelization of 2012, emphasizing those elements which speak to our situation today.
  2. He would talk in relational language more than institutional language.  He is not the “head” of a “universal church” so much as the servant who helps Catholics and all believers articulate their relationship with God today.
  3. He would drag the church from a “classroom” model of religious education into a “formation” model of religious education.
  4. He would emphasize the right and duty that all Catholics have to share their faith with others, encouraging universal small-groups in every parish, on every continent, and broadening the mandate for competent preachers.
  5. He would direct his Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization to stimulate the creation of numerous innovative methods to reach people today, emphasizing the electronic world in which we live.
  6. He would speak regularly about the dynamic quality of outreach that comes from the Holy Spirit.

School Bus

Daniel Schwieterman – All Saints Church (Houston, TX)

The Diocese of Galveston/Houston has over 400,000 Catholic children between the ages of five and eighteen. About 25% of these children are in catechesis. Catechesis to only 25% of the Catholic children is unacceptable. I’d like to share with you how each of us could double or triple the number of students we serve each year.

Most people consider public schools “no fly” zones for teaching the faith to our children. However, in 2001 the US Supreme Court in the case of Milford versus Good News Bible Club (June 2001), declared religious oriented programs by religious groups before or after school are legal. Briefly these decisions say that religious groups and their programs have equal footing with before and after school programs such as boy and girl scouts, YMCA programs (presently there are 250 YMCA programs on public school campuses), dance and fine arts, etc. Under this model of community participation, Catholic catechesis at public schools is permitted.

Catechesis at public schools began for the first time in Houston over 20 years ago. Less than 25% were attending. The decision was made if “they” won’t come to the church, then we will bring the church to them! These efforts resulted in significant increase in the active participation of Catholic families in catechesis, the parish, and also Sunday worship. In the first parish, Christ the King, CCE enrollment grew from 400 to 1,500 participants in ten years. Presently at All Saints we tripled the number of students in CCE in the first five years of offering catechesis at the public schools.

Family

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

A group that seems to be receiving a lot of attention is that of our Catholic families. Certainly, I saw a lot of this at the LA Religious Education Congress this past February. I was struck, in the first place, by the numbers of participants who brought their families along on Saturday, the day that is focused on the general Catholic population. I tried to imagine the impressions such a gathering of 40,000 Catholics in one spot would have on their formation in years ahead. (I certainly remember processions and larger events from my childhood in the 50s.)

I also noted, in particular, a lot of discussion about families in all the levels of catechetical circles.  Certainly most of the 40,000 participants at the Congress were themselves catechists, folks who minister so as to bring Christ into the lives of children and teens. I would often smile at the catechists who worked in the “middle school” grades, as well as high school, knowing how difficult it is to even get the attention of these youngsters, let alone form them.

But the idea that impressed me most was this: catechists are starting to realize that, beyond teaching children and youngsters, we have to be evangelizing the families. We have to design specific ways in which we are engaging the whole family. This undoubtedly means working with other parish ministers to look at comprehensive ways to involve families in a deeper sense of discipleship. Let me list some ideas I came across while in Los Angeles:

R. Multer
As we know, a growing number of Americans are identifying as not having any religious preference. A recent Gallup study found the U.S Hispanic Catholic population is less religious than Hispanic Protestants, and is shrinking. The findings show 43% of Hispanic Catholics identify as very religious, 39% moderately religious and 18% not religious compared to the Hispanic Protestants with at 60%, 29% and 11%, respectively. Furthermore, the research indicates younger Hispanics are less likely to identify with a particular religion. 1 in 5 U.S. Hispanics under the age of 30 identify as having no religious preference. Thus, the growing number of “nones” in the general U.S. population is no different from the U.S Hispanic population.

We Want YOU

We want to hear from YOU
Tell us your story!
We want our Exchange to be a way to communicate what parishes are doing and how effective we are in developing ways to reach out. Use the format below and send us back what your parish is doing. Send your submissions to: online@pemdc.org.

Here’s the format:

Name of Parish and City:

Size and makeup of the Parish: (number of households and general demographics)

Project Undertaken: (one sentence saying what you were trying to accomplish)

Narration: 200 words or less on how you want about doing your project and any discernible results.

Let’s hear from you!

Prayer Book

Featured Resource
The Book of Catholic Prayer for Everyday

It’s here!

Now we can equip every Catholic with an easy ability to pray every day!

This small book can easily be provided for every parishioner, every family, every minister, every member of a youth group. Even more, part of the idea of this book is for Catholics to give them to other, less than active, Catholics to help them get in touch with God, spirituality, and Jesus. Using short scriptures, psalms, meditations, traditional prayers-Catholics can use this book in a practical and easy way to pray four times a day.

Take a look inside…

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