September 2013


September 2013
Dear Friend,

Wow, summer is gone and September is already here! For those who serve in parish and church ministry, September is very much the start of the New Year-no champagne, of course, but lots of new energy.

So now is a time to concentrate on some start-up activities. Here are three to think about.

1. Religious Education: Of course we want the children registered, but we have to broaden our ideas from “registering children” to “contacting families” and, even more, to “evangelizing families.” So now will be a time to review the methods we use to contact children, and also what “offerings” we will make above and beyond “the classroom” to begin touching the lives of families. It’s also a time for us to gather our catechists and help them see their ministry not as “preparing children in classrooms,” but as helping children grow in discipleship.

2. The RCIA: Most parishes do not, unfortunately, have year round RICA, so now is an essential time to be thinking seriously about attracting people through effective invitation to consider coming to know Jesus more fully through the richness of our Catholic tradition. The numbers of adults entering the Church have declined in the United States; part of this can be put at the feet of our lethargic invitation methods. We need to diversify our Inquiry process, expanding it so that seekers and inquirers can be received at any moment.

3. Inactive or semi-active Catholics: We may have run a Theology on Tap program this summer, or may have met parents who wish to enroll their children but are not very steady in their practice of the faith. What processes can we develop to help these people reconnect more fully with their faith, and their faith community? Now can be a great time to start planning for processes that can get underway in late September or early October.

Peace. Fr. Frank DeSiano

Mike Ceciliani, St. Pius X, Conyers, GA

The Two by Two outreach developed at St. Pius X through parallel paths. One group developed the Two by Two concept with the intent of visiting new parishioners. Another group was looking to reach out to the inactive parishioners who were still registered but not active. We decided to use the Two by Two umbrella organization to serve both groups.

We defined the group of “inactive” parishioners as “still registered but not participating in any “Time, Talent or Treasure” campaigns for at least two years. We understood this did not automatically label them as being inactive but it was the best place to start. As it turns out, this list was pretty accurate since most of the response from the visiting pairs indicated the families fit this profile. Stewardship Consultants who helps St. Pius with their stewardship and communication efforts helped put the list of families together. We are a parish of 1,800 families and we determined we had about 1,000 families in the inactive category.

To gather support for the ministry, we announced the campaign at all masses and signed up volunteers. These volunteers participated in a training day facilitated by Father Frank DeSiano. We had over 50 volunteers during the training session. At the end of the training session, we had groups pair off into two’s for the following Saturday visits. Each pair received a list of 5-7 families for visitation. This list included names and addresses so the visiting pair could map their route with a week to spare.

Rev. Thomas Ryan, CSP

nullThe “evangelization turn” under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI is one of the most surprising developments since Vatican II. But different parts of the world need different kinds of evangelization, so one size does not fit all. The approach in countries in an advanced industrial economy will be different from that taken in parts of the developing world.

Fr. Brian Hehir, professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Boston, reflected on the new evangelization in our cultural context in a lecture at the 100th anniversary celebration of St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C. on May 17.

“The 65-70 million Roman Catholics in the U.S. make up 26% of the population in the U.S. But we’ve lost 30% over the past thirty years. The purpose of the new evangelization,” said Hehir, “is 1) to deepen the faith of church members; 2) to draw back and re-engage the 30% that left; and 3) to share faith with the culture at large.”and familiarity.

Tom Quinlan, Diocese of Joliet

The image remains striking to me. A gigantic Catholic church, imposing and impressive sitting on prime real estate on Brompton Road in the middle of the highbrow Kensington district of London…juxtaposed with a small old Anglican church hidden behind it down a tree-lined side street.

I was in London for a leadership conference and I traveled to the London Oratory (a famous Catholic church) for Saturday evening Mass. The Oratory is a truly huge gray edifice, visually prominent even next to some of London’s biggest museums just down the street. Inside, the Oratory is equally impressive in grandeur. In its dark and somewhat forbidding space, most attending Mass were older people who sat toward the back. The only singing through the liturgy was by a boys’ choir. Very few people verbally participated in the Mass and the priest did everything. We knelt at an altar railing for the Eucharist. In truth, it felt quite foreign to me, more deadening than sacred.

The next day I returned to the area to attend a conference welcome picnic at Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) right next door behind this massive Catholic church. The energy, the smiles, the hospitality, the number of young people actively involved…this all was my experience from the moment I set foot on the grounds and it continued throughout the conference. These were people who had come to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ and were exuberantly different for it.

Awakening Faith

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Now is the time to engage the parents of our school and CCD children who are thinking about becoming active in the practice of their faith.

Awakening Faith, an effective conversation-based process to reconnect Catholics to the practice of their faith, can be just the tool you need to do this.

New Resource
From our friends at Word on Fire
Catholicism: The New Evangelization  

“CATHOLICISM: The New Evangelization,”the second installment of Word On Fire’s new documentary and multimedia formation program, is being released this month. Hosted by Father Robert Barron, the documentary focuses on the challenges the Church faces today, such as the emergence of “the new atheism” and relativistic attitudes toward questions of faith and morality.

Learn More and order at

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