September 2014

September 2014
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A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.
Dear Friend,

On many parish websites, I am still seeing requests for catechists to come forward to teach one or another grade of religious education. This is a regular fall ritual in parishes, even as we try to upgrade the whole religious formation for children. For most parishes, it comes down to classes needing teachers-and teachers being difficult to find.

One of the important shifts I’ve seen in this area, however, is the desire to focus on the family and not just the student. I certainly noted this at the NCCL conference in St. Louis last May. While much can be accomplished in helping students grow in discipleship, we all know that when a family comes to see itself as disciples then the possibilities of true formation in faith really come forth.

As religious education gets underway, perhaps directors can look beyond the classroom model and try to think of ways to reach families along with children:

  • Discussion and sharing processes for parents during the religious education period.
  • Ways for families to experience and celebrate, at Sunday Mass but also at various services in which their children fulfill different ministry roles.
  • Materials for children to take home for family activities that further discipleship.
  • Ways to encourage more active parents to invite less active ones for group discussion or some parish activity.

We need to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. Newer patterns of modern life have stretched our older models of faith formation. So new wine for the new wineskins of today’s modern life is desperately needed, particularly in our outreach to families

Our September issue is chock full of interesting articles and reflections. In this issue you will find: Paulist Seminarian Mike Hennessy, CSP, talking about how he uses Benedictine beer for outreach, a story about an innovative outreach from a DC parish, news about our upcoming webinars, my reflection which puts ecumenism and interfaith sharing into the context of evangelization, which I hope you will find helpful, and more.

Peace and blessings,

Fr. Frank

Evangelization, Ecumenism, Inter-Faith-and the Kingdom

By Frank DeSiano, CSP

DeSiano 2011 We have to continue understanding evangelization in the perspective of the Second Vatican Council, particularly its important decrees on ecumenism and other world faiths. It’s easy to get the perspective, and the proportion, wrong. On the one hand, we can think that evangelization is proselytism; on the other hand, we can think there is no need to share faith.

“Evangelization and ecumenism are contradictory directions,” a bishop said to me when our committee was in the process of preparing “Go and Make Disciples” in 1991-1992. I was totally shocked by this, coming as it did from a bishop. Yet it’s a common error to find these directions contradictory. Evangelization seeks to make Catholics, ecumenism other seeks to dialogue. Aren’t they different? (St. Pope John Paul II didn’t think so in his encyclical “Ut Unum Sint.”) On top of this, since his election Pope Francis has made frequent invectives about proselytism, most recently in his remarks to Pentecostals.

Is there a way to sort this out, given the demand to share faith, but the need to respect the faith of others-and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Last month we published an article about a beer tasting event in Grand Rapids hosted by Paulist Seminarian Michael Hennessey. (To read the article click here.) We talked to Michael about his experiences hosting the event:
  1. How did you first become interested in home brewing?I’ve only started brewing very recently because I never really had a desire to start brewing myself, it always seemed to me to be too much work. It was only after my brother gave me a brewing kit as a gift that I started brewing. I’ve been enjoying the process since then.
  2. When did your hobby cross over into a spiritual activity? Or if it always had been, how do you blend the two together?It has become spiritual for a few reasons. First, is that it is quiet time away from the busyness of my life, its a very peaceful relaxing process. Also because I’m using some very basic natural ingredients: water, grains, yeast – which are all part of God’s creation. And finally because it’s something that I can share with others in fellowship. Spending time with others, enjoying the beer that I’ve made can be a very spiritual activity.
  3. How did you come up with the idea for the event? What inspired you to plan it?When I arrived at my summer assignment in Grand Rapids, MI, I was asked to prepare a class to give at the Paulists Information Center there. I had a few ideas, one of which was the beer presentation. I wasn’t an expert at it then, but spend a lot of time in the following weeks researching, sampling, and tasting of course.
  4. What is the focus of your talk at Theology on Tap?The focus was just on Trappist brewing and the Catholic traditions of brewing beer. Most beer drinkers and Catholics have a vague idea that some monks brew beer, but don’t know much more than that. I think guiding me was answering a simple question: how did it come to be that small monasteries in Belgium make some of the worlds best beer that can be purchased throughout the world next to beers made by some big and influential breweries.
  5. How do you think this event helps the evangelization efforts of the Paulists and the New Evangelization in general?I think it’s about creating a safe space for people. Many of the people that came to the class would never have considered going to a class at the Catholic Information Center. My hope is that some of the things I said resonated with those who attended and maybe even looked at attending a future event at the CIC. Also, I always want to help people see beyond their often-negative impressions of the church and that God calls everyone to share in his creation – even making and enjoying a good beer.

By Emily Smith, PEM Marketing and Communications Associate

Last week was the second class of the initiative:

From Practicing Catholics to Apostles on Mission. The initiative was created by the Catholic Apostolate Center in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of Young Adult Ministry The initiative’s main goals are to “assist young adults in recognizing the call to be active in their faith, discern how God is calling each person to use their unique talents and gifts, and support young adults in putting their talents and gifts into practice by creating a new evangelization start-up (apostolate), to do something new for God.”

The first half of the program focuses on “Formation for the New Evangelization” through both online and on-site lectures and discussions. During the second half of the class, participants will form their own “Evangelization Start-Ups” to take the knowledge gained in the first half and apply it in a practical output.

I first heard about this program through the DC Catholic email for Young Adults and was immediately interested in signing up! As someone working in evangelization, this program seems like it will be a great way to learn more about practical evangelization and young adult ministry. I also am very interested in how we can help form lay Catholics to see themselves as disciples of Christ in today’s world.

Check back each month for updates on the program!

From the Washington Post:

Fans who stream into the Navy Yard district before Nats games are now greeted with increasingly varied entertainment choices…On Sunday afternoons this summer, they’ve had another option: a Catholic church service. Or, as the local St. Vincent de Paul church calls it, “Nats Mass.”

“For me, it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Rev. Andrew Royals, 34, a Montgomery County native who became the pastor at the South Capitol Street church about two years ago. “On game days we had thousands of people walking right in front of our church. I was like, ‘Well, I’m sure some of these people would like to go to church.’…And we thought there’s no reason people can’t do both.”

Continue Reading

The pastor at St. Vincent de Paul saw a unique opportunity for his parish to evangelize. Are there needs in our community like this one? Are there people who we can reach out to in an exciting way?

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The Joy of the Gospel – 
a Two Part Series
Join us for a reflective reading and discussion on the major themes of the Pope’s Encyclical. Everyone is talking about it – Pope Francis’ church-shaking encyclical on the New Evangelization.
These will be most helpful for pastors and priests, pastoral associates and catechists, evangelization team members, members of pastoral and financial councils-all in parish leadership and service.
The Pope has so many important directions for all of us-laity and clergy-in terms of living and sharing the Good News. Even if you’ve already read The Joy of the Gospel, join in on the reflections and discussion.
Living the Eucharist Webinars
What Living the Eucharist can do for Your Parish

Living the Eucharist is one of the fastest-growing, most effective, parish-based Lenten programs available. This webinar will show you how your parish can benefit from Living the Eucharist.

Oct. 14th at 3:00pm EST

Best Practices for Implementing Living the Eucharist in Your Parish

This webinar will provide valuable insights to enable your parish to implement Living the Eucharist.

Oct. 2nd at 3:00pm EST

The survey from Pew research on values that various groups believe they should teach their children is modestly helpful, if somewhat hard to nail down. “Conservatives” includes, of course, many Evangelical Protestants which shifts the numbers; “Liberals,” on the other hand, includes a whole bunch of folks who are not involved in church at all, which skew the numbers in another direction.

I would think for Catholics, however, teaching both religious faith and tolerance would be an ideal, rather than the “either/or” posed by the survey. Near the end of the graphs we see how different religious groups feel about teaching different values. Notably, only 25% of Catholics put “religious faith” as the most important value to pass on to their children-quite below the percentage of Evangelicals. This research only reinforces the need for putting the evangelization of families near the top of our agenda.

It’s a bit consoling, I’m sure, that all groups agree on being responsible and hard work as core values. If only we can have these applied to religious practice among our Catholic people!

Click here to read the full report.

F. DeSiano

Check out our new video: The Santa Fe Experience! Watch to see the impact Living the Eucharist is having in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Listen to testimony from Archbishop Michael Sheehan, diocesan staff, group leaders, and participants about how this ministry changes lives through personal encounters with Jesus Christ.
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