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Parish Evangelization Coordinator Monthly Newsletter

January 2018


“The Church exists to evangelize!” - Bl. Pope Paul VI, Evangelli Nuntiandi

Dear Evangelization Coordinator,
 
A blessed and Happy New Year to you, your loved ones, and your parish family.
 
The New Year affords us new and different opportunities to encounter people where they are and to bring them closer to Christ. As the body of Christ all have the responsibility to take up the urgent mission of the gospel.  Bl. Pope Paul VI said it well. “The Church exists to Evangelize.” This should be every parish’s mantra.
 
In this monthly newsletter the Office of Evangelization shares with you some of the best practices and programming being offered around the Archdiocese, a reflection on Evangelization, and a resource from Bishop Barron.
 
Very Rev. David G. Caron, O.P., D. Min.
Vicar of Evangelization

Parish Spotlights:

Evangelization with the Vietnamese Community

A key category in the conversation about Evangelization is culture. Culture matters when we Evangelize.

Fr. Caron and Deacon Leo Tran presented the “Mission is Me” Evangelization workshop to leaders of the Vietnamese churches as they strive to bring the Gospel to everyone they encounter.

Alpha in a Catholic Context at St. Catherine of Siena

To facilitate people having an encounter with Jesus, St. Catherine of Siena Parish is in the early weeks of a pilot Alpha.  Over an 11-week course and a weekend away (a Friday evening and Saturday for us), Alpha joyfully invites participants to consider and discuss aspects of the kerygma.  Each session lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours; seated in small groups, participants share a meal, watch a 20-30 minute video, and discuss the video. Just over 100 parish leaders (including youth and young adults) are participating in the pilot to “work out the kinks” in running Alpha before it is offered to everyone (teens and adults) in the Fall.  Here’s what we’re experiencing so far:
  • While the logistics of Alpha may seem daunting at the outset, once a good team is assembled, it is a fairly simple process.  All materials, including training videos for the team and planning timelines and checklists, are available online at no charge.
  • The main task for the parish offering Alpha is to create a casual, warm, welcoming, nonjudgmental atmosphere to make the time and space for participants to have an encounter with Jesus.  Assembling a team who reflect this attitude is vital.
  • The teaching happens in the videos, and the Holy Spirit does the “heavy lifting” of transforming hearts.  (To that end, a vital part of Alpha is a supportive intercessory prayer team).  The buzz in the room, the laughter at the tables, and the fact that people are coming back each week tells us that they are engaged by what Alpha is offering.
  • Intentionally practicing the joyful, nonjudgmental listening that Alpha prescribes is forming us—team and participants alike—in the evangelical attitude recommended by Pope Francis.

Christmas Pew Cards at
Our Lady of Lourdes, Violet

Pew Institute Research studies on Christmas observations have consistently shown that as a nation the celebration of Christmas continues to be incredibly popular, but it also shows that the day is increasingly becoming a non-religious cultural event, especially among younger generations. Pew Cards used at Christmas and Easter can serve as a strategy to welcome and respond to your first-time and repeat visitors, reach younger generations, expand your church’s entry points, get new people involved or answer questions about your religious programming. 

While several parishes around the Archdiocese successfully used the Christmas Pew Card this past Christmas, we wanted to highlight Fr. Bryan Howard, the new pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Violet, LA.  Fr. Bryan wrote “We used the pew cards at Our Lady of Lourdes. We placed them at each end of every pew and near our visitors book before the Masses for the 4th Sunday of Advent and kept them out throughout the season of Christmas. All of the hospitality ministers were informed and instructed on how to help people with them, and I made an announcement inviting new and returning families to fill them out at the beginning of all Christmas Masses. We received 3 back for Christmas and 1 since then. I am personally contacting the families…..All in all, I’d say it was well worth the effort.”

Evangelization Resources:

This month, we are highlighting 2 different resources.  The first is a seven-step Evangelization strategy that you can considering implementing this year.  The second is a video by Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and the Founder of Word on Fire ministries.  
An Evangelization Reflection:
In 2018 “Go and Make Disciples”
Bringing others to the Lord takes intentionality. Try the following:
  1. Listen to the other person. This may happen in planned or unplanned ways – a meeting, over a succession of conversations, or perhaps in everyday life. In a culture that is cynical about faith, it is not wise to rush this step. Listening is a lifelong activity!  When we listen we model for the unchurched or those inquiring that Jesus didn’t turn people away.  Neither should we.
  2. Reflect back to the person who you want to know and understand. For many persons, it is a rare experience to discover that others are listening to and honoring their “seeking” stories.
  3. Connect their story with your own story and a most importantly with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This assumes that we have a knowledge of the stories of Gospels and can access the presence of Jesus in most any human situation: fear, loss, anger, poverty, betrayal, confusion, pride. You may share an experience where the power of Jesus helped you to overcome an obstacle. This connection is about a relationship and a spiritual journey.
To read and print all seven steps, please click here.  
Bishop Barron on Reaching the iGens
As parish Evangelization coordinators, we assist pastors and other members of our parish to discern how to effectively Evangelize in the face of challenges presented by contemporary culture.  In the above video, Bishop Barron describes a new phenomenon and the latest research from the book entitled: I-Gen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Dr. Jean M. Twenge.  The book is a sociological study on the new generation, born between 1995 and 2012.  These are not the Millennials, who are often referred to as spiritual but not religious, but the children of those who have grown up with technology.  The challenge we face is that the iGen is not even spiritual. Bishop Barron's video can assist us in reading the cultural context of our day, along with prayerfully discerning ways that the Church can enact new strategies to address this challenge.  This ten minute video might serve as a good Evangelization discussion starter in your parish, as you strive to show that the gospel of Jesus is credible now and forever.
Copyright © 2018 Archdiocese of New Orleans Office of Evangelization, All rights reserved.


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