January 2013 Evangelization Exchange – Dolan

One Liner

Deacon Dennis Dolan

Deacon Denis Dolan, prison chaplain in Connecticut, likes to get things down to one line. Here’s his take on ONE LINE that captures evangelization for him:

The Power of a Single, Clear Idea: Establishing an Evangelization Tagline in The Parish

I am a big fan of “one liners”. These single sentences are portable and can serve as a concrete baseline for our efforts to make Evangelization an understood and acted upon reality of our Catholic practice by all parishioners. Advertisers know the value of an often repeated, well crafted, single phrase. Shouldn’t we?

A “one liner” is a single sentence that can be constantly put before the people in various ways letting them absorb it and letting it renew them. A single summary sentence of the mission of evangelization that can demystify and make approachable for the people in the pews, what we know is a “complex process” (EN 24).

Since Evangelization is THE reason for the existence of the Church, that one liner should be a weekly petition in the Prayer of the Faithful/General Intercessions or serve as the normal conclusion of that prayer. It should serve as filler in the parish bulletin and appear on stationery and websites. It’s components should be regular subject matter for small groups, CCD and Sermons. It should be deployed by all as the conclusion to prayer in the parish.

In short, I am proposing an Evangelization equivalent of Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.

Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.

Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.

Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

A one liner can become absorbed by the Community. When it has become familiar and reflexive, we will have made a beginning in moving Evangelization from the fringe to the Core of our community.

My candidate for such a sentence is from the author of Constants in Context, American Missiologist Fr. Roger Schroeder, SVD: Evangelization is proclaiming, witnessing and serving God’s Reign of love, salvation and justice.

The strength of this configuration is that it names the three primary movements of evangelization (proclamation, witness, service). It clearly identifies the object of evangelization as The Kingdom (not the Church). And Finally, it unpacks the nature of God’s dream for our lives by using the themes of major Roman Evangelization Documents: God as an overflowing Fountain of Love (Ad Gentes), Salvation (Redemptorist Missio) and Justice (Evangelization in the Modern World).

It is just a single sentence but it contains access to all that we are about in our efforts to give Evangelization it’s rightful place at the center of the mission. A single sentence that can serve as the substructure to support a parish wide understanding of the “complex process” of evangelization. A single sentence that can be used to test the level of parish awareness and therefore progress in the Missio Dei. A single sentence: the power of a single, clear idea.

Lord, we ask that the mission of evangelization be enthroned in the hearts of all your holy and compassionate people that we may stand with Our Brother the Lord in proclaiming, witnessing and serving Your Reign of love, salvation and justice. Amen.