September 2017 Evangelization Exchange
Welcome back from Summer!
Here’s is our monthly Evangelization Exchange. You’ll see we are focusing on the theme of “missionary disciples” – with grateful reference to Pope Francis urging us to think of ourselves this way.
In this issue and the next, Jonathan Lewis, of the Archdiocese of Washington, writes on inviting Young Adults into missionary discipleship. Other experts will write on different areas as we go through the months. I’m beginning a series on this theme as well, and inviting you to use the ideas as they can be of help to you and your parish: bulletin materials, discussion materials, or for adult faith formation.
We have an article by our Fr. Ken Boyack on the Eucharist and discipleship, and a variety of articles showing discipleship in action. A link from PRRI will give an overall picture of “America’s Changing Landscape” – something that will affect all of us who do ministry in the Church.
We also invite you to learn more about our 40th Anniversary which we are celebrating this year, and how you can support our ministry’s future.
May our efforts in the Lord’s vineyard be amazingly fruitful this year!
Sincerely in Christ,
There’s been a lot of conversation since the publication of “The Joy of the Gospel” on the idea of being missionary disciples. What does this mean? And, in particular, what does this mean for everyday Catholics?
This year, the essays in the Evangelization Exchange will focus on how we can help form Catholics as missionary disciples. This series, entitled “Catholics. Disciples. Missionaries.” will offer concrete examples of forming missionary disciples from various pastoral viewpoints, as well as an exploration of the theme in terms of Catholic evangelization and faith formation.
We are happy to have ministry leaders from across the country writing on how to help form missionary disciples from various perspectives-young adults, families, Latinos, etc. In addition, Fr. Frank DeSiano, will be offering a series of essays on Catholics and discipleship. We hope that both these contributions will encourage our common goal of forming missionary disciples in our parishes, communities, and schools today.
The US Bishops in their 2017 document “Living as Missionary Disciples” identify four moments from The Road to Emmaus in Luke 24 to describe the process of evangelization: encounter, accompany, community, send. If we want to take seriously the call to form young adults as missionary disciples we need to reassess key underemphasized moments in the life of our parishes, especially the need to accompany young people through mentoring and friendship.
Start with Mentoring One Person
No matter the age, the best way to form missionary disciples is through one on one relationships. The method Jesus used continues to be successful if we are willing to take the time to call people by name and to walk with them. If every parish staff, parish council member, and head of parish ministry was asked to befriend and mentor one young person in their faith it would have a transformative impact on the lives of dozens of young people and on the parish as well.
While a great amount of attention is given to the need for peer friendships in evangelization, the Church is at its best when it becomes a true family of faith, forging friendships with people of distinct ages and stages of life. My own faith journey has always been enriched by parish ‘older brothers’, ‘aunts’, ‘uncles’ and ‘grandparents’ who modeled for me what it means to be an adult Catholic and have passed on the wisdom that comes from life experience.
The good news is that everyone has a role to play. You don’t have to be young to do young adult ministry! I know many older adults who mourn that their child or grandchild is no longer practicing their faith. There is a sometimes a severe sense of disappointment or failure. My advice is simple: through a one on one mentoring relationship you can be the reason that someone else’s child or grandchild stays active in the Church.
Build Mentoring and Friendship into Existent Formation
Every parish engages young adults each year who come to the parish to participate in RCIA, marriage preparation, baptism preparation, or to register in the parish. Parishes that have success helping those young adults stay active in their faith start by connecting younger adults to a mentor and peer friendships.
Jonathan Lewis is the Executive Director of Evangelization, Young Adult Ministry, and Chaplaincies for the Archdiocese of Washington. He is an alumnus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and holds a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame through the ECHO: Faith Formation Leadership Program. Jonathan is originally from the Kansas City area and has served in parish catechetical ministry for 10 years in in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Diocese of Wilmington, Archdiocese of San Francisco, and Archdiocese of Washington. He currently serves as a member of the Board for Paulist Evangelization Ministries (PEM).
by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
I remember being surprised when a priest challenged me during one of my talks. “All of us are called to discipleship,” I was giving a talk on the US Bishops’ document, “Go and Make Disciples.” He put up his hand: “Where did you get that idea?” he asked.
At first, I dismissed his question as being picky, but I then realize the layers of biblical and Catholic tradition that could make someone ask that question. After all, doesn’t Jesus, particularly in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, distinguish between the “crowds” and “the Twelve-the disciples”? And didn’t we for centuries imply that there were several levels at which we could be part of the Church-those who really gave their lives to Jesus as clergy and religious, and then everyone else who didn’t? Were we not content to think of Catholicism as basically going to Church, receiving communion “at least once a year,” and supporting the works of the Church? Didn’t we have a Church that almost anyone could belong to-unless you were some notorious mobster who was refused a Catholic burial?
So it may come as a surprise to many Catholics that, today, we are all expected to be disciples. Perhaps it was St. Pius X who forced the issue when he urged frequent communion among all Catholics. When we think about it, it’s hard to receive Holy Communion and think that someone is not a disciple. St. Pius X was saying that to be a Catholic was to receive Holy Communion every Sunday; he was building upon decades of research and reflection that came to the conclusion that it made no sense to go to Mass, the “Supper of the Lamb,” and not actually eat the Sacred Food which is what the Mass is all about.
Is Your Parish Ready to Reach Out to Young Adults?
In “20s-30s Ministry: A Guide for Parishes,” Fr. Nicholas Lombardo, O.P., shares his experience and learning from his successful Young Adult Ministry.
By Elise Harris – From The Catholic News Agency – Copyright © CNA
Speaking to youth in Colombia Thursday, Pope Francis urged them to move away from the violence of the past and to work toward healing and building a culture of encounter, which he said often begins simply with a drink or a cup of coffee.
“For you, young people, it is so easy to encounter one another. All you need is a good coffee, a good drink or any other excuse to meet,” the Pope said Sept. 7, his first full day in Colombia.
Topics such as art and music can often bring people together, he said.
“Even a final between Atlético Nacional and América de Cali is an opportunity to be together,” he exclaimed, referring to the rival association football teams from Medellin and Cali who compete in Colombia’s premier tournament league.<
Youth are able to teach their elders that “the culture of meeting is not in thinking, living or reacting to everyone in the same way; it is rather in knowing that beyond our differences we are all part of something greater that unites and transcends us; we are part of this wonderful country.
“Help us, your elders, to enter into this culture of encounter that you practice so well,” he implored them.
By Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CSP
Pope Francis invites every Catholic to be a missionary disciple. He teaches that “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries,” but rather that we are always “missionary disciples” (no. 120, The Joy of the Gospel).
Since Catholics are indeed missionary disciples, it follows that each Catholic has his or her mission territory. Catholics who live in the United States can claim their mission territory not in some far away country like India but here: our families, work places, and areas in which we recreate.
A study titled “America’s Changing Religious Identity” (see below) by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), released on September 6, 2017, reveals that 24 percent of the adult population of the United States have no religious affiliation. The 24 percent represent around 60,000,000 Americans, based on the 2016 census. The graph below shows the dramatic rise in the religiously unaffiliated from 1990 to 2016.
Did you know we’re celebrating our 40th Anniversary this year?
The decades have flown by since Fr. Illig, CSP, began our ministry in 1977. But the purpose of our missionary work remains the same: to reach out to those who are not connected to a community of faith and help them know all that the Catholic Church can offer them; and to equip Catholics and parishes with the resources to help us be the missionary disciples that Pope Francis calls us to be.
Over the course of these forty years, a variety of initiatives have begun, from the original “We Care, We Share” program that Fr. Illig developed, to Share the Word, to Another Look, to Disciples in Mission. In recent years we have developed Living the Eucharist to help Catholics connect the Mass with their life as disciples; Seeking Christ to make it possible for parishes to invite seekers all year long; and The Journey/El Camino to connect Catholics and others with a deeper personal encounter with Christ
We are always thinking of what’s needed to help our Church be more evangelizing. Use of technology provides opportunities that didn’t exist when our office began. The training and webinar sessions we provide are harbingers of future engagement with Catholics, with those seeking faith, and with those who have drifted away from the practice of their faith.
Thank you for being part of our ministry – and our Celebration!
By Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., – From PRRI – Copyright © 2017 PRRI
The American religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation. White Christians, once the dominant religious group in the U.S., now account for fewer than half of all adults living in the country. Today, fewer than half of all states are majority white Christian. As recently as 2007, 39 states had majority white Christian populations. These are two of the major findings from this report, which is based on findings from PRRI’s 2016 American Values Atlas, the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted. This landmark report is based on a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states and includes detailed information about their religious affiliation, denominational ties, political affiliation, and other important demographic attributes.
Among the major findings:
- White Christians now account for fewer than half of the public. Today, only 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30% as white and Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in ten (81%) Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55%) were white Protestants.
By Trent Beattie – From The National Catholic Register – Copyright © 2017 EWTN News, Inc
Anyone could guess that being named to the Pro Bowl roster would require years of dedication to football. What many might not guess is that someone with that dedication could be equally or more devoted to faith or family.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Paul Posluszny was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2013 after having been named an All-American at Penn State University in 2005 and 2006. These are high honors for anyone, but especially for someone who wasn’t sure he’d be good enough to play in college or the pros. Posluszny simply took football one snap at a time, not getting hyped up over possible success in the future.
This humble outlook has helped Posluszny not only in football, but in other areas of life. The 32-year-old Butler, Pennsylvania, native, whose surname can be translated as “obedient” or “dutiful” from the Polish, is profoundly appreciative of having been raised Catholic by his parents. Instead of seeing them as adversaries, his parents, in his mind, were people who should be respected, loved and obeyed.