Summer 2013


Summer 2013
Dear Ryan,

Come June and July things slow down quite a bit in the parish. Staff is on vacation, and parishioners often run to their beaches or mountains to get away. Nevertheless, summer can be a fruitful time for evangelizers. Tom Quinlan, Director of Faith Formation for the diocese of Joliet, gives us some handy ideas for approaches to youth and families in this edition of Evangelization Exchange. In addition, I have some other ideas for parish staffs and

evangelization teams.

Happy Summer!

Frank DeSiano, CSP


3 Summertime Ideas
Frank DeSiano, CSP

1) Building up the RCIA. 

Summer months can be times for parishes to hold informal receptions for people who might be interested in coming to know Jesus Christ in the strength of our Catholic way of life. From picnics to parties, parishioners can be invited to brings friends and neighbors who have asked about the Catholic faith.

Summer should also be a time of more intense invitation to the RCIA. While most parishes will, unfortunately, not have a RCIA process underway in the summer, staff can be placing effective invitations in various locales to get seekers to make contact. Often our approaches to inviting people to conversion are embarrassingly anemic. Summer is also an ideal time to begin involving seekers through a program like “Seeking Christ” which offers eight flexible modules for seekers and inquirers. Whether one-on-one, or the start of a pre-inquiry group, parishes can already be extending the Good News to people who are seeking faith today.

2) Getting Ready for Religious Education

Summer is also an excellent time for parishes to think about more effective recruitment of children for the fall. Often our announcements go only to folks who are already in some way associated with the parish; we put sign-up sheets in the back of church in a rather passive way. DREs and their catechists can design more dramatic ways to reach every family in their area, and think about interesting ways to involve parents and the whole family in the religious formation process come fall. Religious education teams need to be thinking: “How do I evangelize families”, more than “how do I educate children.”

3) Young Adults

Summer is also a fine time for Theology on Tap, attracting young adults to a comfortable setting, allowing them to meet each other, offering an interesting and discussion-stimulating presentation, and encouraging the conversation. Staff should also be thinking about how to continue the exchange after summer is over, building a nucleus of young adult ministry-something desperately needed by parishes. Theology on Tap:; and Young Adult Ministry:, from Busted Halo.


Tom Quinlan

Summer provides a great opportunity to do intentional outreach to families in your parish and also to families not registered at any Catholic parish. It really should be a part of every parish’s summer game plan.

Perhaps you have noted a drop in the numbers of students in your program in recent years. The aggregate figures reveal a steady and meaningful drop over the last five years diocesan-wide in children participating in parish faith formation. It is a disturbing reality and something we can take action to reverse.

Most programs send registration materials to families who had children in the program the previous year. (Parishes should also be using parish data to connect with families who have children reaching school age, be it Pre-K or 1st Grade.) This is a good core practice for any faith formation program to conduct annually.However, it is not nearly enough to communicate with those already on board.
There is a lot of talk today about the New Evangelization. And Pope Francis is continually raising eyebrows and hopes throughout the Church with his frank critique of a Church that can behave in an insular and self-protective mode. He is inviting us, as Jesus himself did, to see the world as our mission field. He is asking us to reach out.


Frank DeSiano, CSP


As I travel around the country, I find more and more priests are reading “Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, Making Church Matter,” by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran.  People are always smiling when they talk about the book because it raises some fundamental questions about Catholic parishes today. How can parishes escape the syndrome of mostly serving the folks who come (often with a demanding consumer attitude) and begin serving those who do not come.

As I’ve noted in my past two reports, Fr. While and Mr. Corcoran have transformed Nativity Parish, Timonium, MD, just north of Baltimore, into a instrument of outreach. In my last report, I mentioned the committees Nativity set up to engage people-parking, hosting, information, and the café. This report explores a bit more what the Nativity team does in a bit more detail.

Basically, think of your regular parish, strip away those things that drag on people (boring, predictable music; lack-luster attitudes of ministers; church-centered preaching; an implicit set of expectations of the congregation; ignoring of visitors), and start emphasizing things that would make anyone who showed up feel that she or he has a place in the congregation-that’s what the Nativity formula looks like. “We like to say that music is the water on which the experience sails,” they state (p. 94), offering contemporary Christian music led by a range of musicians. This contemporary music alternates with some simple Gregorian chants through the liturgy, creating a sense of novelty and familiarity.

SC Inquirer's Booklet

Featured Resource
Seeking Christ

Now is the time to think ahead for next year’s RCIA.

Be ready to invite and welcome these folks in their curiosity about the Faith.

SEEKING CHRIST provides eight flexible modules to begin introducing inquirers and seekers to dimensions of Catholic life.  Through DVD meditations, Scripture sharing, reflection, prayer, and a take-home reflection. Learn More. 

Evangelization Website

Following last month’s conference the NCCL Evangelization Committee has launched a new website with information and resources for Catholic leaders.

Take a look at  


What are you doing?
Tell us your story!
We want to hear what parishes are doing and how effective they are in developing ways to reach out. Use the format below and send us back what your parish is doing. Send your submissions to:

Here’s the format:

Name of Parish and City:

Size and makeup of the Parish: (number of households and general demographics)

Project Undertaken: (one sentence saying what you were trying to accomplish)

Narration: 200 words or less on how you want about doing your project and any discernible results.

Let’s hear from you!

Compliments of:
Paulist Evangelization Ministries
3031 4th St, NE, Washington, DC | 800.237.5515
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