Walking the Distance and the New Evangelization
“What are you discussing as you go your way?”
by Magdalena Gutierrez
Monsignor Pope called and said: “We are having our last stage of training. Come for dinner at 6:30, prayer at 7:00, and the talk at 7:30. The pray-ers, the walkers and the cookers will be all there. These are our final four weeks of preparation”.
I was thrilled with the opportunity: Door-to-door evangelization training in the District of Columbia at Holy Comforter-St Cyprian, thirteen blocks SE of the Capitol building! The neighborhood has been changing over the past ten years as more professionals move in.
The approach was simple. Knock on the door, introduce yourself, present them a bag with parish information and begin a conversation: “How long have you lived in the neighborhood?” To finish the visit we would offer to take their prayer intentions – a down-to-earth method.
The parish had began their process on Pentecost Sunday 2009 with fiery homilies followed by bible studies aimed at recruiting and preparing parishioners to launch their parish evangelization campaign.
The next stage began on Pentecost Sunday 2010, when approximately 125 people signed up after Monsignor Pope delivered an enthusiastic homily inviting all parishioners to join in, as if they were joining St. Peter on that first day of Pentecost.
This second stage consisted of two “Witnessing dinners” with experienced door-to-door evangelizers sharing their best tips and answering questions from interested parishioners. The guest speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, nationalities, and styles.
Lastly, we had the “nuts and bolts” with four more weekly gatherings of prayer, dinner and dynamic speakers. The vision was laid out for “Friendship evangelization.” Our goal was to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to family, friends, neighbors, and the community. Our main tool: the joy of knowing Christ and the transforming power of his Word and the sacraments.
Will it work? Will the new neighbors find their home in this community? I say yes! Where the love of God is tangible, you can find a home. We are already walking the neighborhood and discovering how we may bring God’s love, how we may tell Christ’s story again!
Pope Benedict recently announced the creation of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization that will dedicate its efforts to battle against “a progressive secularization of society” and a sort of “eclipse” of the sense of God that has caused many to find difficulty with the practice of their faith.
So here is the question for us: when we walk our neighborhoods, are we under the spell of the eclipse or under the light of the Resurrection? Are we capable of backing up Christ’s Resurrection with real life, contemporary examples of how God makes a difference in our lives? Can our neighbors see our love in tangible ways or do arguments and debates eclipse this love?
Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish may be a bit ambitious to believe that the love of God can unite people of such different backgrounds – blacks, whites, and Latinos- to be part of one home. But we have an ambitious God! May God inspire us anew to walk our neighborhoods in the power of his Holy Spirit.
“We were hoping that he was the one who would set Israel free.”