April 2013


April 2013
Dear Friend,

Nothing defines the work of evangelization so much as the Easter Season-particularly the reception of those Candidates and Catechumens into the Church, either to receive the sacraments of initiation fully for the first time, or to complete initiation after baptism.

While we certainly need to reflect on how these new Catholics continue their growth as disciples in their new Catholic lives-I continue to hear stories of converts who do not stay with the Church after baptism-we also need to recognize what an invitation these folks provide for us already-baptized Catholics.

We see, before our eyes, the effect of living Catholic lives openly and strongly. Everyone who joins the Church does so because of a Catholic she or he has known and admired. Everyone joins the Church because of the lived witness of a Catholic. Often this happens through family connections-particularly married people, often after years of marriage-but people are drawn to the Church as well by the lives they see in their neighbors and friends.

This time of year is an excellent time to have our new Catholics, or to have active Catholics, give simple witness to their faith. It can reinforce the faith of active Catholics, send an invitation to less-than-active Catholics, and touch the hearts of seekers who are wondering if the Church has something to offer them.

I am also hearing that Pope Francis is stirring up a lot of positive questions for former Catholics and seekers. Here’s another great opportunity we cannot afford to let slip by.

Frank DeSiano, CSP

Deacon Tom Gornick

Portland Oregon is recognized as one of the premier bicycling cities in the US. Currently over 6% of the city commutes by bike using over 300 miles of special lanes and paths. The question was asked, “Do Catholics bless bikes?” In June 2013, the Archdiocese of Portland Department of Evangelization and the Cathedral parish will host the sixth annual Blessing of the Bikes. The simple courtyard service offers prayers, scripture and a final blessing. A special moment comes with the reading of the names of individuals who died in bike accidents during the past year. Each name is read and the Cathedral tolls the bell in their honor. As people leave they receive a bicycle decal with the image of Our Lady of Ghisahllo, patroness of bicycling attached to a card in English and Spanish that explains the story.

Frank DeSiano, CSP

Here’s a book for every Catholic pastor and minister to read. The title refers to the transformation Father Michael White and his pastoral associate, Tom Corcoran, have brought about in Nativity Parish, located in Timonium, MD, in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The authors begin with a description of their rather normal suburban parish along a strip of interstate that represented where the Catholic population has been moving over the past decades.

This book represents the most vivid description of what the phrase “from maintenance to mission” could mean. They describe the parish they inherited, and the myriad frustrations that go along with it. What they show about their inherited parish will resonate with many pastoral ministers across the socio-economic spectrum of the United States. “Business as usual,” might be a way to compress the description-the spate of parish activities falling upon a stretched and stressed-out staff with diminishing returns. The authors can be scathing when they talk about the parish they inherited-and many traits of the typical American parish. Perhaps mincing no words can shock a parish culture that all too often runs on “automatic pilot.”

Rev. Kenneth Boyack, CSP
The report from the Pew Forum titled “‘Strong’ Catholic Identity at a Four-Decade Low in U.S.” raises soul-searching questions for the Catholic Church. Why is strong religious identity declining so significantly among Catholics, but not among Protestants? Why is Catholic attendance at weekly Mass decreasing so sharply, especially in recent years? And how does the decline in religious identity among Catholics impact the success of the Church’s efforts to foster the new evangelization?

Read the full report

Living the Eucharist is resource that strengthens Catholic commitment and increases participation at Mass. Click here for more information about this new parish-based resource.

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