March 2015

March 2015
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.
Dear Friend,

We are already thinking of Holy Week, a time most exciting and most demanding in parish life. Exciting because so much of the ministry of the past year is coming to its climax at the Easter Vigil, and also at our various celebrations of First Communion, First Reconciliation, and Confirmation.

This affirms something essential in parish ministry–in some way everything we do is related to initiation, conversion, growth in faith and discipleship. 

Which means, of course, that everything we do in our parishes is related to evangelization. For many years we have used the phrase “from mission to maintenance”–a phrase popularized by Fr. Bob Rivers, a fellow Paulist. But another Paulist keeps asking me, “we have to see how maintenance is an essential dimension of mission, don’t we?”

The truth is that evangelization has to both inform everything we do as a parish–directing it all to discipleship, conversion and re-commitment; and it has to lead our parish’s attention beyond the folks who regularly come (and support!) our parish to those who are on the edges or not connected at all.

In addition to my little piece on inactive Catholics, part of our “Becoming an Inviting Church” series, we also have information on webinars past and future, some interesting maps about religious practice in the U.S., and an update on a particular ministry to and by young adults.

I join you in praying for our newly-received Catholics, and urging you to pray for an even greater abundance of disciples, and discipleship, next year.

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

President

Becoming an Inviting Church

This series presents directions to stimulate the thinking of pastoral leaders, helping them focus on the important ministry of inviting. Parishes may, to a greater or lesser extent, greet and welcome. But few parishes consciously invite-and this at a time when participation in church is falling across all the religious spectrum.

Part 5 – Inviting Inactive Catholics

By Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

I do not think there is any area that receives more discussion than that of “inactive Catholics.” Just about every sociological research book goes through the numbers from different angles, but they all tell the same story: if you use sociological and statistical methods, you see nothing but erosion in church attendance among non-Latino Catholics, particularly in the younger generations. Latinos themselves, by the way, are no sure bet because other studies show erosion, and potential erosion, among their identity with the Church–but more about them in a future Evangelization Exchange.

Christian Smith surveyed “emerging Catholics” between 18 and 25, a cohort he has been following with his other researchers for years (Young Adult Catholics, Oxford, 2014). William D’Antonio continued his periodic (every 5 years) study of Catholics and sees the decline in church attendance, particularly among younger cohorts, but the level of drop appears to have slowed down (American Catholics in Transition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). These studies confirm what Robert Putnam and David Campbell pointed out in their wonderful book, American Grace (Simon and Shuster, 2010), about the significant decline in attendance among European-derived Catholics in the United States.

Continue Reading

Using Your Smartphone for Spiritual Growth
By Emily Smith, Marketing and Communications Associate

While doing research on social media usage, I came across the image on the right. It’s from a fascinating study on smartphone usage which you can read in full here. Since we’re already practically attached at the hip to our phones here are some tips for incorporating them into your prayer life
1. Catholic Apps – a pretty basic starting point. There are apps for praying the rosary, breviaries, and more. Here’s a good recap of some of the best ones and reviews.
2. Schedule prayer time – one great thing about smartphones is how they help us stay on top of things. I have reminders for grocery lists, emails, events, you name it. Try adding a daily prayer reminder in your day. Not just at night, but in the middle of the day. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer, but when you see that notification pop-up, take a moment to stop and pray. Some days you might have more time to devote to prayer, others it might be a rushed thank-you, but reminding yourself to stop and be thankful at least once a day will have a great positive impact.

Continue Reading

Have any tips to add or favorite apps to recommend? Share them on Twitter by tweeting at us at @PaulistEvangMin

March Webinar
Conversion, RCIA, and a Life of Discipleship
March 25th at 3:00pm EST

This webinar will explore the themes of conversion and discipleship in the Christian life and help us recognize how the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) models a way of life and faith for every believer. Through discussing the movement from Inquiry, Catechumenate, Election, and Mystagogy, Silas Henderson will lead reflections on how the life of committed discipleship and evangelization build on the lifelong process of conversion that each Christian to which each Christian is called. 

Bio: Silas Henderson, M.T.S., currently serves as the Managing Editor of Abbey Press Publications and Deacon Digest Magazine and as a retreat director of Mayslake Ministries. A catechist and popular presenter, he explores the connection between Catholic teachings and traditions, the liturgy, and practical spirituality. 
From last month – Reaching Out To Inactive Catholics: Awakening Faith

Join Fr. Frank DeSiano as he presents information on current Catholic involvement in their faith, and ways we can reach out to them through conversation.
Apostles on Mission Update
 
The second semester of Apostles on Mission is well underway, with a retreat day and mentor meetings helping to spur on our various Evangelization Start-Ups.
Looking at the variety of ideas and passions shining through in these projects, its exciting to be a part of such an inspiring group of young adults. Here’s just a sampling of the Evangelization Start-Ups:
  • An arts group for Catholic artists to grow spiritually and professionally
  • A small group discussion focused on the Eucharist and Evangelization followed by door to door outreach
  • Spiritual resources for those struggling with eating disorders – including a series of talks on college campuses
  • Support for recent graduates living in DC
As the projects take off it will be interesting to see our successes and what we learn from our mistakes.
The religious states of America, in 22 maps

From the Washington Post

Last year, for the first time ever, that strain of Christianity lost its majority status among Americans, according to a new survey of 50,000 people. Only 47 percent of America identify as Protestant, with rates as high as 81 percent in Mississippi and as low as 10 percent in Utah.

“We have known for some time that America is in the midst of a religious, ethnic and cultural sea change, but until now we have not had a tool to capture these shifts adequately,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, said in a statement introducing the organization’s new American Values Atlas tool. “By updating the American Values Atlas with more than 50,000 interviews each year, we will be able to track the dramatic cultural changes that are underway at this pivotal time in our nation’s history.”

 

What have you been doing in your parish or diocese to reach out? We’d love to highlight your exciting events and evangelization efforts here in the Exchange each month!
Send your story to us at: online@pemdc.org.
Maybe your idea will inspire other parishes or perhaps you’ll see a great new event for yours!
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