Summer 2015

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

I’m happy to send this next edition of Evangelization Exchange, even in the midst of our hot and sleepy summer. 

We know we can never stop thinking about evangelization – how we become renewed as disciples, how we reach out to those not involved in faith, and how our faith shines through our generous service to others. Pope Francis keeps giving us something to think about, in terms of evangelization and in terms of “care for our common home”- the earth. His Encyclical, “Laudato Si” should create a lot of buzz in our parishes and workplaces.

I hope that Michael Bayer’s article – the first of three – about inviting youth will create some buzz as well. A successful youth and campus minister, he sums up very well the basic principles of reaching youth – something our Church really wants to do. You’ll also find links to our resources for forming Evangelization Teams in your parish. In addition, we have information about a 5,000 parish outreach in evangelization from Archbishop Nichols in England where church participation is even lower than ours. I wish we had all our 15,000 US parishes on board for direct evangelization outreach!

Paulist Prison Ministries, one of our services, sends Catholic religious material on a regular basis to over 700 prison chaplains, making a huge impact on the lives of prisoners. In a letter sent to us, Sue Ann, a volunteer in Tennesee, shares her personal involvement in, and commitment to, prison ministry. It can inspire us all.

Only six weeks till September! Let’s enjoy the rest of the summer while we have it.

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 8 – Inviting Youth

Michael Bayer has long been involved in youth ministry and campus ministry. Presently he directs the campus ministry at the University of Iowa at Iowa City.

We’ve all seen the data: 50% of youth who were raised Catholic no longer self-identify with the faith of their Baptism by the age of 25, and if “former Catholics” were a religious denomination, it would be the second largest in the country (Pew Forum). Though such statistics are ubiquitous, they are no less unsettling for their familiarity. Little wonder that many in the Church perceive an existential crisis on the horizon.

And yet, the Church in North America has at its disposal an unprecedented range of tools for inviting youth. Instead of descending into despair over empty pews, we ought to see this moment as one of great excitement and opportunity. The omnipresence of mobile devices allows us to reach teens far beyond the walls of the worship space and confines of a CCD classroom. Instant access to information on the internet, coupled with a normalcy of pluralism in public schools, compels young people to ask questions about their faith that previous generations would never have imagined.

Nevertheless, it is this same explosion of new technologies from which the Church can, and must, provide relief. Being in constant communication with friends and family allows teens to feel connected at all times – but it paradoxically contributes to an increasing sense of isolation. Fewer human interactions take place face-to-face, as texting, digital photos, video games, and mobile apps become the predominant form of contact with others.  At the same moment in human history when young people are ceaselessly linked by technology, they have never felt more alone. Nor so potently craving membership in a community.

Bishops seek to turn 5,000 churches into 
‘missionary parishes’ 

From the Catholic Herald

Catholic bishops in England and Wales hope to establish evangelisation teams to transform about 5,000 churches into “missionary parishes”.

However, there will be no place for proselytising, “door-stepping” or “cold calling” in an attempt to win converts, said Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“Proselytising is a one-way street,” Cardinal Nichols told a press conference. “It is saying, ‘I have got something you must have, and I’m going to make you receive it whether you like it or not.’ Evangelisation is essentially an invitation, and it is an invitation which will draw people closer together in their humanity, in their human experience.

Evangelization Teams

What does a successful E-Team look like?

In a way, if we can sketch an answer to this question, we can begin to debug the various factors which have kept evangelization teams from flourishing: the lack of clarity, lack of communication, the over-reaching, the exhaustion and burnout – and see our way towards a long-term ministry of evangelization in a parish.

The team will have a clear picture of the present situation of the parish, and how the parish can advance in evangelization over the next five years. This picture will eliminate fantasy ideas about the realities of the parish, thereby helping evangelization initiatives to spring from the actual parish situation.

The team will then develop some clear evangelizing overtures, spacing them out so that the efforts would not be not exhausting, and inviting broader support from members of the parish. These overtures will have:

  1. A communication aspect-speaking to the parish and its leadership;
  2. A public relations aspect-speaking to those we are inviting;
  3. A phase in which the initiative is executed, with particular emphasis on personal interaction with people; and
  4. A review phase, in which lessons, now learned, shape the next initiative.

These overtures will span a range of areas, depending on the parish, but not neglect the outreach to inactive Catholics or inviting people to consider the Catholic faith in their lives.

Missed the first two parts in our series on E-Teams? Read them below:

Part 1: Forming E-Teams*

*Please note, limited quantities of the Jump-Stark Kit remain.
Does your parish have an E-Team?

We’d love to hear about parish’s successes and struggles with forming and sustaining an E-Team. Share your stories about E-Teams and similar initiatives below and your story may be featured in an upcoming Evangelization Exchange.
Click Here To Take a Short Survey on E-Teams.
New study quantifies spiritual health crisis
for Catholic families

From OSV Newsweekly

If your child came home from school with a test grade of 22 percent would you be concerned? How about 17 percent or 13 percent?

Sadly, new research by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown found that similar numbers reflect the spiritual health “grades” of Catholic families. The first-of-its-kind study was sponsored by Holy Cross Family Ministries, an organization promoting family prayer and family well-being around the world and continuing the legacy of its founder, Father Patrick Peyton, CSC (of “the family that prays together … stays together” fame). The project examined the degree to which Catholic families are living out their faith in three areas: Mass and sacramental participation, prayer life at home and approach to media consumption. The new data describe a challenge that is greater than many could have imagined.

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Paulist Prison Ministry

From Sue Ann, a Paulist Prison Ministry volunteer in Tennessee
I am a recent convert to the faith and one of the books I read during my conversion process was “Camerado, I Give You My Hand” – a book about Fr. Dave Link, former Dean of Notre Dame Law School, now a priest devoted to prison ministry. The book planted a seed a couple of years ago, and after my conversion, that seed grew into a thought that prison ministry was something I could do. I found out there was a need for a volunteer at a nearby facility, and after one visit, I was hooked. I love every moment I spend at Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, TN, and have since the beginning! I found out that the men had been praying for a volunteer for over two years, and have no doubt that their prayers helped to bring me into the Church, for the conversion process was not easy for me. Our attendance (we have two services each week now) has almost doubled in the past year. The men tell me that it is because they have a volunteer who sincerely wants to be there, but in my heart I know that it is the grace of God in action, and nothing less.

I’ve only been involved in prison work for one year, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Catholic Church needs a greater presence in the prison system. My guys semi-jokingly call themselves a captive audience and each time I leave the facility, they promise to be there when I return. The incarcerated are a group who cannot, for obvious reasons, come to us. We have to go to them, and they long for us to be there!  Volunteers are treasured and valued, and inmates long to be treasured and valued and seen as persons with dignity.

I think many – if not most – people would be surprised if they took the time to meet the men and women who are in prison. When visiting a prison, Pope Francis said, “I think to myself, ‘I, too, could be here.’ That is, none of us can be sure that we would never commit a crime, something for which we’d be put in prison.” I feel very strongly that what he said is true.  When I am there, I feel as though I am among my peers. The men are persons who’ve made mistakes, who are struggling to find their way, who need the love, truth, mercy, compassion, and everything else that the Church and Christ have to offer; in other words, they are persons not unlike myself.

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Learn More about Paulist Prison Ministry

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