September 2015

September 2015

A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.
Dear Friend,

By now our RCIA processes are underway, hopefully as a result of a vigorous ministry of inviting and welcoming people, particularly the growing number of “unchurched” people that our society seems to be producing.

Likewise our faith formation for children has probably been organized, with last minute “teachers” conscripted into duty. When it comes to youth, however, we are sometimes at a loss. Mike Bayer, campus minister at the University of Iowa, and formerly very successful youth minister in Maryland, gives us his third and final segment on inviting youth. All the articles in the series ‘Becoming an Inviting Church’ will be put into a booklet and available for church leaders to continue stirring the pot when it comes to invitation.
There’s a reflection on Pope Francis’ visit to the US which has been generating more and more excitement as the visit approaches. And Fr. Kenneth Boyack offers some thoughts on the effectiveness of lectio divina in evangelization.
Let’s pray for Pope Francis, the fruit of his visit – may it lead to further advances in evangelization for all of us.
Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP
Becoming an Inviting Church

This series presents directions to stimulate the thinking of pastoral leaders, helping them focus on the important ministry of inviting. Parishes may, to a greater or lesser extent, greet and welcome. But few parishes consciously invite-and this at a time when participation in church is falling across all the religious spectrum.

Inviting Youth – Part 3
Michael Bayer has long been involved in youth ministry and campus ministry. Presently he directs the campus ministry at the University of Iowa at Iowa City.

Part 1 / Part 2

So what might a parish-based youth program look like?
Let’s take a look at what an ideal year’s sequence of youth ministry might look like. Of course, every parish is different, but here are some highlights:
Late August: A ‘welcome back’ cookout, followed by games and time to hang out. Gatherings such as this should be purely social, and teens should be encouraged to invite their friends. At the cookout itself, resist the temptation to ask teens about their faith or talk incessantly about the fall retreat. Just feed them, let them hang out, and show them that the church can be a place they begin to form a community.
September: Between back to school events and fall sports, this is an especially challenging time, but you want to keep the momentum going. Launch small groups and begin the formal course of “formation” for the year, whether it’s a topical series, book/film study, or Scripture based faith sharing. Be sure to have at least one purely social event per month, all year long.
October and November: Hold a fall retreat. Hold it off-site, and make sure it’s at least two overnights. Cost is always a factor, but this is where pastoral staff need to convince those in charge of the budget that youth ministry is a parish-wide priority. In addition to a retreat, this is a great time to schedule service events, like a Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods on Halloween. The teens want to dress up and be with their friends anyway, why not stock a local food pantry and help them get service hours for their schools?
A Reflection on Pope Francis’ Upcoming Visit
By Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP

Driving up and down the New Jersey Turnpike – as I often have to do – I listen to the stations from Philadelphia to smooth the journey from the Delaware Bridge to Trenton. WKYY, in its AM talk-news version, this September had a regular segment, every half hour, on the Pope’s visit – either some background, or what mass transit would be like, or how to get a hotel room. So Francis-mania is alive and well along the 1-95 East Coast corridor!
I think this geography – Washington, Philadelphia, and New York – is an interesting way to think about what Pope Francis will contribute to our collective awareness as Americans when he comes to visit. Of course, he’ll have been in Cuba before he arrives, which will have a very different objective: how to bring a faith, shoved into the basement by Communism, more clearly into daylight. 
In the US, faith has not been shoved into a basement, but rather put into the margins by being crowded out of our consciousness. While older generations are more likely to hang on to religious practice, younger generations are absorbed with many things that rob faith of the priority it ought to have in our daily lives. Just ask any pastor, or DRE, what kind of struggle it is when soccer practice is competing with worship!
Pope Francis will touch on these three cities, each one representing a different, essential, lobe in the ‘American Brain’.
Will excitement about Pope Francis reinvigorate 
the Church?
Click the image below to watch the video on the Washington Post

Lectio Divina, A Proven Pathway to a Personal Relationship With God
By Rev. Kenneth Boyack, CSP

Many people today long for a personal relationship with God where we know that God is real, cares about us, and gives us purpose for our lives. The holy Scriptures are the divinely inspired and revealed Word of God. When we read the Scriptures, God talks to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and we talk to God. It’s a dialogue in prayer. As St. Augustine puts it, “When you read the Bible, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God.” Lectio divina, translated as divine reading, gives us a method to develop a personal relationship with God.
Reading the Scriptures opens our mind and heart to God and ignites our spiritual growth. St. Paul summarizes the benefits of reading Scripture in his Second Letter to Timothy. He writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Learning lectio divina as a method of reading and praying the Scriptures is a proven way to grow in faith as a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ.
What is Lectio Divina?
We can trace the use of lectio divina to the third century of our Catholic tradition through the writings of Origin, a theologian who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. This method of prayer is highly recommended by the Catholic Church, most recently in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Upcoming Webinars

Tools for Invitation – 
Drawing People to Christ in the Church
September 24th at 3:00pm EST
Reflect on an array of tools that catechetical and catechumenal teams can use to invite people to encounter Jesus in the Catholic Church. We have God’s unique message; how do we invite people to hear it? Presented by Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP.

Reaching Inactive Catholics: 
The Potential of Awakening Faith
October 8th at 3:00pm EST
Join Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP as he looks at the issues surrounding inviting inactive Catholics to return to the Church. He’ll also look at how Awakening Faith can help inactive Catholics come back to the Church through conversation and sharing.
Living the Eucharist Webinars
LE LogoIgniting Faith Through Living the Eucharist

September 22nd at 3:00pm EST

Join Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP, and Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CSP, PLUS guests who have experienced the dynamic qualities of Living the Eucharist first-hand. Learn how this ministry can ignite the faith of your parishioners in Lent 2016.

Transforming Your Parish Through Living the Eucharist: Best practices for Parish Leaders – September 30th at 3:00pm EST

Join Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CSP, and find out how your parish can implement Living the Eucharist in Lent 2016 and involve adults, teens, families, and individuals in dynamic encounters with Christ. Discover why one parishioner called Living the Eucharist the “best program in our parish in decades.”
Webinar Recording
The Environment and Evangelization: Laudato Si

September 8th at 3:00pm EST
Join Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP as he reflects on what Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical, Laudato Si, can teach us about how ecological crises relate to the central message of the Gospel. The challenges of this encyclical offer powerful avenues for conversion.
Study offers road map for New Evangelization
From Our Sunday Visitor In recent years, the Pew Research Center, among other researchers, have focused heavily on how the Catholic Church in the United States has been losing many members. In its most recent study, released Sept. 2, Pew finds that many Americans still have a connection to the Catholic Faith. In all, 45 percent of American adults either self-identify their religion as Catholic or have some other attachment to the Catholic Church.
National surveys have increasingly come up with varying estimates for the size of the adult Catholic population. The General Social Survey (GSS) and Gallup have estimated that about a quarter of adults self-identifies their religion as Catholic, whereas Pew estimates this to be closer to 1 in 5 consistently across studies. This new Pew study digs deeper to find more with some connection to the Church.
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