May 2014

Dear Friend,

May has come upon us, with its exhausting sweep of parish and Church activities. We have celebrated the entrance of adults into our Church, either through Baptism of Profession of Faith. Many children also advance in initiation through reception of first Holy Communion. And, of course, celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation acknowledges that a level of discipleship has now been achieved and accepted. Add graduation, and more weddings-and we really have busy parishes.

As we go through all this activity, our parish staffs and evangelization teams can be looking ahead in some particular ways:

What can we do to attract people to the catechumenal process, to Inquiry, to reflecting on what the Catholic Church can offer people? All through the spring and summer, we should be racking our pastoral brains as the Spirit nudges us to think about how we become more inviting to seekers and inquirers.

How can we use warmer weather to connect people to our parishes? Evangelization teams might think of organizing home visits, or setting up block parties, or reaching families through Vacation Bible School-ways to get the word out about our parish. Check out our website for various ideas.

We wish all of you refreshing summer days as we build to the great feast of the celebration of Pentecost.

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

DeSiano 2011

Is Evangelization Inevitably Elitist?

Part 3: The Center – Discipleship

This is the third part of a series of essays on exploring evangelization as a broad and inclusive movement, not selective, and certainly not elitist.  Part 1 raised the issue and explored scriptural and pastoral approaches that reflect trajectories from the Gospel.  Part 2 elaborated on the breadth of evangelization by urging a solid center but, at the same time, drawing the widest possible circle of inclusion-within which all are called to conversion.  Part 3 explores the center-discipleship-and how it calls all toward a core, given the different places and paces of people on the journey of following Christ.

Read Part 1 Here 

Read Part 2 Here 

“What are we inviting them to?” For the past thirty years, I have heard this phrase from earnest Catholics who raise the question when we, their co-parishioners, are thinking of inviting Catholics back to the Church.

There are two separate emphases behind this phrase. One-that something drove people from the Church, or from the practice of their faith -and how will we manage that rupture? Two: that, as Catholics, we don’t have much to offer is not much-so why bother inviting people at all? This second reason usually assumes the blandness of Catholic parish life: the so-so homilies, the less-than-friendly congregation, and perhaps some inconvenient doctrines that people want tweaked one way or another.

My conviction is that we have an enormously wonderful gift to share with people, both with those Catholics who are not active in their faith, and also with seekers who are drifting in their religious commitment-the gift of discipleship.  If we can bring this gift more to the forefront in our Catholic life and worship, then I believe fewer folks will tend to drift from the Church, and more will be drawn toward it.

Continue Reading

By Ryan Multer

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with many small group participants and leaders throughout the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. At each parish the people I spoke with had enjoyed their experience and would participate in the future. These encounters lead me to make five observations on why small groups are vital for parishes today:

1. Allows for Catholics to be Connected

Small groups provide a way for people to connect to other parishioners and Catholics. Participants were thankful for an opportunity to meet other parishioners – some whom they sat next to every Sunday and yet never exchanged a single word. Furthermore, participants felt a greater connection to the larger parish community as a result of their experience. Small group members came to understand that the foundation of the Church is the people and not the physical gathering space. One woman shared with me that previously her Mass attendance had been split amongst a few parishes and did not feel that she was a part of any community. After participating in a small group for six weeks, she became a proud and active member of that parish. The connections formed in small groups reach far beyond the initial sessions.

2. Creates an Opportunity for Invitation

Faith sharing groups can be an avenue to invite seekers and inactive Catholics. Many participants have a positive and powerful experience that they share with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. I met a man who was invited by a friend to join a faith sharing group; he had not been to Mass in a number of years. The group was a doorway for him to enter back into Church and he is now a regular Mass goer. Small groups can be a less intimidating entrance point than Mass. In addition, outsiders are able to take a peek into the Catholic life which allows them to see that the people of the Church are normal individuals trying to live a faithful life.

Pope, Baptism

Vatican statistics: Church growth remains steady worldwide
From the UK Edition of the Catholic Herald, “The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012…according to Vatican statistics.”

The Perfect Resource for Small Groups
Coming this spring, the next edition in our Awakening Faith Series: “The Spirit of Faith – Making Faith Come Alive.” This booklet delves into the topic of the Holy Spirit and how he works in our lives. Each session focuses on one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how understanding them can help us understand ourselves. Give those in your community looking to deepen their faith the an understanding of how the Holy Spirit plays an integral role in their spiritual growth!

Now Available!
A new book from the Paulist Evangelization Ministries makes the perfect gift for anyone looking to deepen their faith. This book includes one-hundred reflections on God: as our Father, savior, and sanctifier. These reflections are paired with journaling pages to reflect on your growing relationship with God. Celebrate a special occasion with the gift of faith. 
Compliments of:
Paulist Evangelization Ministries 
3031 4th St, NE, Washington, DC 800.237.5515
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