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Reachout1What is Catholic Evangelization?
The word “evangelization”, though rooted solidly in both Scripture and Tradition, still sounds strange to many Catholics. It means, literally, “‘communication of the gospel,” the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Its root word, the Greek Euangelizo, means simply “good news.” As Catholics we have always evangelized, but perhaps we have not identified it as such. When did we first learn of Jesus? Who taught us our first prayers? Who passed on their faith to us? To whom are we passing on our faith? Over the centuries the Catholic faith has been handed on and shared with others. This is evangelization.

Jesus, the Good News of God, was and is the greatest evangelizer. Jesus was sent “to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free; and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The disciples of Jesus when commissioned by him to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all of creation,” became the evangelizing church.

Evangelization is:

•Sharing the gift of faith that has been given to us
•An essential mission of the Church
•A basic duty of all the baptized: laity, religious and clergy
Evangelization is:

•Calling active believers to even deeper faith
•Bringing the message of Christ to inactive Catholics
•Inviting people to join the Catholic Church
•Making the Gospel real by applying it to the issues and conditions of our lives
In essence, evangelization is a way of life.

How Do We Evangelize?

“Evangelization will also always contain – as the foundation, center and, at the same time, summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ.
salvation is offered to all, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.”

Evangelii Nuntiandi

Through The Power Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, who is at work in the heart of every person, is the principal agent of evangelization. The Spirit, the first gift of the risen Christ to his people, gives us both the ability to receive the Gospel of Jesus and the power to proclaim it. Without the Holy spirit, evangelization simply cannot occur.

Through Witness

Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness, that is, we are called to live our lives in such a way that it is obvious that we take our faith seriously. Our relationships and everyday activities in our families, workplaces and society are to be shaped by Gospel values. We witness as an evangelizing community when we gather around the Table of the Lord and when we reach out to those in need.

Through Sharing

All of us who have been given the gift of faith are asked to freely share this gift with others. We are urged to tell others how God is acting in our lives. We need to do this in our own way, using words that are comfortable for us.

We are encouraged to share the Gospel
• with those who have no church community, and
• with those who have given up active participation in the Catholic community.

We also welcome those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.

Sharing our faith needs to be done in the spirit of dialogue, with respect and concern for others.
• It involves listening and being open to how God is working in another person’s life.
• We need to have a gentle, non-threatening approach.
• We are not to proselytize, that is, we are not to manipulate or pressure anyone.

Evangelization is sharing the Good News that we have experienced and inviting others to join us.

As a parish community, we can develop strategies to help us in being proactive about evangelization.

•Know your parish – its strengths and challenges.
•Know your needs and those of the wider community.
•Be realistic about expectations and goals.
•Know your resources: human, financial and material.
•Affirm and encourage evangelization efforts already taking place.
•Build on the strengths you have in your parish.

The Role of the Laity in Evangelization

Evangelization is everyone’s responsibility. Pope John Paul II called for a “New Evangelization.” This means we are called to be proactive in our responsibility to be evangelizers. Until now, most Catholics have thought of evangelization as something Protestants do, or that it is a private action, in that we don’t wear our religion on our sleeves. Many Catholics even have a hard time saying out loud that they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Images of Protestant evangelizers have left an unpleasant taste in the mouths of Catholics, so that we, as Catholics, find it distasteful to impose our morality or our religion on others. “God talk” is not a typical subject of conversation like football, food or the movies and it even seems to be embarrassing to engage in it. Many Catholics feel ill-equipped to discuss their faith, especially when pitted against Protestants who can recite Bible verses on command.

Today, Catholics have taken a place among the best-educated and most prosperous citizens of this country. Most of the barriers to our full participation in Catholic life in the United States have fallen away. But our reluctance to share our faith with others has not. However, despite this reluctance, a growing number of Catholics are realizing their faith is not a treasure to bury under a bushel basket, but rather they are looking for concrete ways to share their faith. They, in effect, let their light shine.

The Vatican II document, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity , says,

” Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying,
and ruling in His name and power.
But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ
and therefore have their own share in the mission of the
whole people of God in the Church and in the world.”
Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity

Whom Are We Called to Evangelize?

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all of Creation”

Mark 15:16

Active Catholics:
In order for us to evangelize others we must first be evangelized ourselves.
As active Catholics,
• we are called to ongoing conversion and renewal.
• We need to continually develop and deepen our faith.
As adults, we must pay special attention to how we evangelize our children. That is, how we hand on the faith that has been given to us.
Active Catholics, adults and children are most often evangelized by participation in vibrant faith communities which are committed to:
• Worshipping God in spirit and truth
• Creating and nourishing Christian community
• Proclaiming in word and deed the Good News of Jesus Christ
• Teaching the saving message of Jesus
• Serving all our brothers and sisters by acts of charity and working for justice and peace.

Active Catholics need to become excited Catholics eager to share their faith.

Inactive Catholics:
Millions of Catholics for a variety of reasons no longer practice their faith.
• As an evangelizing community, we have to let our sisters and brothers know that we miss them and that they will always be welcomed back.
• We must be actively involved in seeking ways to help people be reconciled and reunited with Christ and the Church.

Those with no Church Affiliation
A significant number of people do not belong to any church. As Catholics we need to reach out and invite these people to be part of our faith community.

Our churches are to be places of welcome and centers of hospitality
\for all people of every race and culture .

How Can I Evangelize?

We can reach out to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone and especially newcomers, inactive Catholics, the marginalized and the unchurched.


•Become a sharing person who freely witnesses to the Catholic Faith and recount personal experiences openly with others.
•Invite a new parishioner, neighbor or friend to dinner or a social event to build a friendship based on Christ’s love.
•Visit a new parishioner or neighbor to build community and communion.
•Become a minister of care and bring Holy Communion to the homebound and hospitalized.
•Practice hospitality in the parish, neighborhood and workplace by listening, encouraging, affirming and celebrating others.
•Develop a welcoming atmosphere at home by being present for family meals and other family celebrations and special occasions.

The Parish as an Evangelizing Community

“Embracing all the activity of the parish is a basic vocation and commitment to evangelization.
Not only calling active believers to ever deeper faith, but also bringing the message
of Christ to alienated Catholics, inviting people to join in the Church’s
belief and worship, and making the Gospel real by applying it to the
issues and conditions of our lives.
The parish realizes that the most effective instrument of evangelization is its visible hospitality,
its vitality and its own faithfulness to Christ.”

The Parish – A People, A Mission , A Structure, NCCB

An Evangelizing Parish:

•Provides an atmosphere of welcome, hospitality and belonging
•Fosters awareness of the Church’s mission to the world
•Encourages its members to live and share their faith in their families, workplaces and neighborhoods
•Provides opportunities for parishioners to discuss and reflect on their faith and their relationship to God, (e.g., Bible study groups, small faith sharing groups, etc.)
•Welcomes and seeks to reunite its inactive and alienated members
•Reaches out and welcomes all people, especially those who do not belong to any church
•Implements the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), actively involving the parish
•Promotes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and participates in ecumenical and interreligious activities
An Evangelizing community plans activities and develops programs with an evangelizing perspective, that is, from the perspective of how these activities and programs can:

•Deepen the faith of the active members
•Reconcile those who are alienated
•Welcome back those who are inactive
•Reach out to those with no church affiliation
•Foster Gospel values in all of society
An Evangelizing Parish sees the ordinary and everyday events as “Evangelizing Moments”, especially:

•First Communions Confirmations
•Parish Registrations
•Parish Visitations
•Parish Socials
For Reflection:

•What are ways you can evangelize in your parish, neighborhood, etc.?
•How can you help make your parish an evangelizing community?

Posted 13 years ago.

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