May 2013

May 2013
Greetings!

The Easter Season comes to its climax with the feast of Pentecost, when the Church celebrates the greatest Easter Gift of all-the one from whom all other Easter Gifts arise-the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, since the start of the Easter Season, we have been celebrating the gift of Word, of Sacrament, of Church and community, of healing, of charisms, of sharing the Good News.  Every Sunday we have seen these dimensions of our Christian-and particularly Catholic-lives proclaimed in all of the readings.

The feast of Pentecost gives us an important, but all too short, opportunity to help correct the lopsidedness that is part of so much of our contemporary Catholic life.  We Catholics are so aware of Jesus as the Word-made-flesh, centering our lives on his words, actions, and Paschal Mystery.  We further concentrate on Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.

But Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit as the very dynamic of our Catholic lives.  The whole point of the Rising of Jesus from the dead was to bestow his Spirit-divine Life and Love-upon us through grace and faith.  In fact, the Holy Spirit operates dynamically in every believer’s life.  But we Catholics hardly allude to the Spirit.  We hardly recognize the dynamism.  We hardly recognize the power of the Holy Spirit-so desperately needed today-to lead us to commitment, to proclamation, to witness, and to share our faith.

“Come Holy Spirit”-what a great gift we can give our Catholic people if we just pointed out to them the daily power of the Spirit: when we pray, when we read the Scripture, when we share faith in our family, when we meet in small group, when we pray in concern for another, when we serve others in need, when we make peace, and when we experience joy.  These daily gifts underlie any extraordinary gifts of the Spirit any of us might receive.

Without awareness of these gifts, we Catholics are doomed to be the inward-looking, protective, and silent people whom so many others see us to be.  With increased awareness of the Holy Spirit, we can become much more a people of openness, of sharing, of witness, of invitation, and proclamation.

“Come Holy Spirit.”

Frank DeSiano, CSP

Frank DeSiano, CSP
In this report, I want to further present some of the powerful ideas that Fr. Michael White and Mr. Tom Corcoran have given us in their stirring book Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish. As I have gone around the country this past month, I find many priests and parish staffs discussing this book.  It is being read by staffs and by priests in deaneries.  People almost always tell me why they like this book so much: “It’s the only way I can begin conceiving doing parish differently. We have to stop doing parish a business-as-usual. We are missing so many people. This book is getting me to think. “We owe, then, a huge debt to White and Corcoran for stating the issue in such an accessible way for parish leaders to make use of it.

When the authors realized how much of their ministerial energy in their parish was bringing them to a dead end, they decided they had to do something different.  Instead of running a parish for a smaller number of “demanding consumer” Catholics who saw church as something primarily for them, they started articulating a notion of parish that was primarily for the people who were not church-goers.  How does one design a church experience that would make the typical dechurched person want to come and, even more, stay?

With the election of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church selected a leader who, for the first time, came from the New World. Prior to this, popes almost entirely came from Europe or from areas in the immediate Mediterranean area. We can see from the Pew report on the distribution of Christians how much the center of Christianity has moved from its European roots to now flourish in the Southern Hemisphere.

Of course, parishes of  the United States and Canada are strongly influenced by these patterns, both in the clergy who serve and also in new immigration patterns. Our parish staffs might discuss the implications of these shifts on our parishes present and future.

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Sad News in the World of Evangelization

North American Forum on the Catechumenate closes

In a recent announcement the North American Forum on the Catechumenate said they will close on June 30, 2013.

Read the release on their website

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What is your Evangelization Team doing?
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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.

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