November 2013

 

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November 2013
Dear Friend,

By now the busy season of our different ministries are underway-children are enrolled in religious education, the RCIA group has taken on a definite shape, adult faith formation series are underway, some parishes are out visiting neighbors before the cold sets in, staffs are already talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I continue to be surprised at how few parishes have Evangelization Teams. I know the downside of Evangelization Teams-how quickly they can burn out because they get enthusiastically into something and, either from overwork or from unrealistic expectations, they become disappointed. But I also know the upside of Evangelization Teams, how, with solid perspective and patience, they help a parish do more than welcome-they help a parish to BECOME AN INVITING PARISH.

This would be a wonderful ideal for as many parish staffs as possible to adapt-to think about its programming and how parish events can be transformed into opportunities for invitation.

Here at Paulist Evangelization Ministries we are just about finished putting touches on a new and exciting resource for parishes, Neighbors Reaching Neighbors. It will put some flesh onto the often ephemeral desires we have to “reach out.” This program will have many tools for parishes to use uniquely and creatively. I hope you’ll get as excited about it as we are.

Blessings always,

Fr. Frank DeSiano

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

This stunning statement came from Pope Francis in his conversation with the Italian atheist who founded the Roman newspaper, La Repubblica. Is this a papal attack on evangelization? How can the Holy Father, who is preparing an apostolic exhortation to respond to last October’s “Synod on the New Evangelization” come out with a statement like this?

Actually we evangelizers need to thank Pope Francis for what he said. Because it allows us to clarify what proselytism is and what evangelization is-and how very different they are. In fact, about 15 years ago, Catholics and Evangelicals had a long series of conversations which were very helpful in identifying what proselytism is. Reviewing some of these ideas is helpful and important.

We proselytize when we dismiss the religious experience of other people just because they are different from us-especially when our dismissal presumes a guilt, sin, or state of damnation for them just because they do not have our faith. We also proselytize when we distort what another religion says and depict in ways that are totally unfair. For example, when some Evangelicals continue to say (especially to first-generation Hispanics in the United States) that “Catholics break the first commandment because we worship idols and statues,” this is distortion and deceit. And when some Catholics dismiss the worship of Evangelicals by saying, “It’s only entertainment,” that is proselytism.

Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis, Diocese of Shreveport, LA

With Bishop Michael Duca’s approval, the Diocese of Shreveport began planning in 2012 to implement Living the Eucharist in Lent 2013. We introduced LTE to the clergy and then, since we are a small diocese, began training the Parish Leadership Teams. We also offered the small group leader training in each Deanery. Initially we had hoped for 5 parishes. The numbers grew with over 70% of our parishes participating, including our Hispanic communities and several teen groups (we are a rural diocese with less than 30 parishes).

During Lent we were hearing from parishes about how enrollment was growing and the need for more small group leaders and materials! During the Easter Season we sponsored “Celebration and Evaluation” gatherings to learn about the parish experience of Living the Eucharist. St. Paschal’s in West Monroe organized Hispanic small groups by neighborhoods. Throughout the Diocese Sunday Mass attendance and participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation increased. One small group participant said, “I’ve been poor in the understanding of the faith but this has touched my heart.” St. Anne in Stonewall, one of our more rural parishes, had a teen group with more non-Catholics than Catholic youth! We heard loud and clear the need for more opportunities like this and a desire to continue praying with the Sunday Scriptures using lectio divina.

The long term effects of Living the Eucharist are continuing to unfold. We are encouraging all parishes to begin using lectio divina before all meetings, during faith formation sessions, and with the RCIA. In July, parishes began calling and asking when they would receive the Lent 2014 materials! As the Director of Catechesis and the primary coordinator for Living the Eucharist, I am humbled, thrilled, and elated by the response of our good people.

Fr. Frank DeSiano

While on a visit to Providence to address various groups from around the diocese, I ran into Ryan Tremblay who was assisting the Office of Evangelization and Faith Formation, directed by Lisa Gulino.  Ryan gave me a CD with his songs-they are remarkable for their beauty and directness.  They have a strong evangelizing purpose since they provide a way for people to explore their “personal encounter with Jesus Christ” from this musical slant.  Ryan and his people are available for booking.  Check out his website, listen to a few of his tune, and think of what his kind of music might offer to your parish or congregation-and how it might be a form of outreach beyond your regular participants.

Steady Changes in U.S. Catholic Parish Life by Mark Gray

 

Click here to view an insightful and fascinating presentation on research that reflects trends in parish life today. These trends have significant implications for evangelization efforts in our parishes. Learn from Mark Gray about the staggering difference in numbers among those who self-identify as Catholics and those who attend Mass every week. See the chart showing the spike in Mass attendance at Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter, and learn about the decreasing number of diocesan priests available to pastor a growing number of Catholics.

Mark Gray, Ph.D, a member of the staff of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), posted this presentation on his blog, 1964, on November 1, 2013.

 

Featured Resource
Pew Cards   

Reach your visitors and guest this Advent and Christmas season!

Who will be visiting your parish in the coming weeks? These attractive cards help you connect with all visitors. Use the pew cards to reach those that are spiritually hungry. Place the cards in the pews during masses to welcome guests and learn about their needs. The inside of the cards are fully-customizable so you can print your own message. Each box contains 250 cards.
Compliments of:
Paulist Evangelization Ministries
3031 4th St, NE, Washington, DC | 800.237.5515
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