Sharing the Love

disciplesWelcome to our Evangelization blog! Think of this as our online meeting space, where we can continue the conversation about making disciples at Mary, Queen of Peace.  It can also be a handy tool for those who might miss a session, as well as a place to record our thoughts, musings, insights, hopes and questions.

Where to start? First, some favorite quotes from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, the Joy of the Gospel:

The-Pope_2514251b“An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing’ …” (10)

“The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy…” (24)

“The parish is the centre of constant missionary outreach.” Parishes are to be “completely mission-oriented.” (28)

Desiano

And now, a little overview of Session 1 of the Paulist Comprehensive Evangelization Training. We watched Fr. Frank DeSiano’s overview of the word “Evangelization” and its implications, such as:

The horizon is broad! Evangelization calls us to transform the world through  the power of the Gospel, mainly by making disciples who go and do the same.  What does this mean to us on the parish level? As Fr. Frank said:

“Parishes do not have the primary task of serving the needs of their members. Rather parishes have the primary task of serving their members so that these members can reach out and serve the world.”

Some challenges of evangelization: How do we come to understand ourselves as personally converted? How do parishes become the missionary communities they are called to be?

Some strategies: Strategies must fit our particular situation, but should include: opportunities for inviting and welcoming; opportunities for mailing and home visits; opportunities for neighborhood witness; opportunities to build upon what the parish is already doing; opportunities to expand upon what we are already doing.

Parishes, Fr. Frank says, should be “missionary powerhouses.”

QUESTIONS:

  1. What would you identify as the greatest evangelization needs in your parish?
  2. What kind of evangelization is most effective in your parish at this time?
  3. What do you think are some of the first steps that need to be addressed in your parish to sharpen the focus on evangelization?

Some ideas that were shared after watching the video included: Many people are touched by the Bible Timeline experience, but how does that leave the building? How does it help transform our culture? Maybe we need more adult education and formation? Our Haiti partnership is a wonderful example of parish working as a “missionary powerhouse.”

Here are my random thoughts:

1. I see the hunger people have for something – mainly those who do come to mass but aren’t quite connected. They are waiting for the power of the Gospel to transform their lives.

2. Our mentoring/welcoming ministry is a great tool for evangelization. It is still new, but I think it holds great promise. (Pope Francis also mentions patience in the Joy of the Gospel. That’s a good reminder.)

3. As far as first steps, before adding anything, I believe we should work to ensure that ministries are working through the lens of evangelization.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, impressions!

Next session: Thursday, Jan. 16, 7:15 a.m.: The Reason for the Mission

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Where do we go from here?

disciplesAfter viewing and discussing the Paulist Comprehensive Evangelization Training series, we each came up with our top 2-4 takeaways from the sessions we led. As we prepare to move forward in touching hearts with the love of Christ, it seems a good time to look over these ideas. So here we go, our top ideas by session:

Overview of  Catholic  Evangelization    (Erie)

  • ET to establish Goals & Objectives.
  • Involve all ministries in  promoting
  • New Evangelization calls for new methods & all called.

 The Reason  for  the  Mission     (Fr. Ronnie)

  • Christians obligation to proclaim the Good News.
  • Six Reasons for the Mission: Mystery of Sin & Death, Christian Doctrine, Christian Faith in Jesus, Called to Serve Others,  Called to be Disciples,      Called to Make Disciples, Calling people to conversion to begin eternal life.

 Parish and  Mission     (Wayne)

  • Parish ministers are urged to actively and intentionally    serve the mission of the church
  • Purpose of the parish is to serve the parishioners so that  they become agents of the Kingdom in the world
  • Discipleship:  Word, Worship, Community, Service

 Evangelizing  Active  Catholics  (Jewell)

  • To collaborate with the ANO, ORE, and OE to assist team to complete the below sentences: I am Catholic because….; Mass is the key to Catholic life because….The Creed, Sacraments, Moral decisions, and prayer are invitations to the meaning of life because….; My vocation is a participation in God’s love because….
  • ET & PMT leaders encourage all in their ministry and    families by strengthening their knowledge of faith thru completion of these sentences with all members by end of 2015.
  •  All ministry members then bring their love and knowledge to those still in the pew, those not in the pew and those that never have been in the pew thru their love and knowledge of the faith.

Approaches  to Inactive Catholics (Jerry)

  • Identify those born after 1965, not participating in the Church.
  • Use electronic media to reach the young and those pre-occupied in the world.
  • Be aware all who attend Church are seekers.

 Approaches to Inactive  Catholics (Sandy)

  • Offer  “Catholics Come Home” or  “Awakening Faith”   3 times/yr.
  • Create young adult faith groups…more positive growth.

 Dynamics  of  Welcome and Invitation  (Steve)

  • Everyone is invited.
  • We must have endurance & perseverance.
  • Stories for seekers from others in similar situations.

Engaging  Seekers Today    (Maria)

  • Do not reinvent the wheel.  MQP parish has many ministries established, we just need to tweek what we already have.
  • Much emphasis placed on the Pastoral ministry Leaders to establish a feeling of welcome that is non-judgmental, always positive, loving and accepting toward parishioners and new comers.
  • Using our weekly Sunday worship as a teaching tool for our faith; i.e. Explaining the parts of the Mass, as we go through it.
  • To do a better job reaching parents of the children who are making first Sacraments and being baptized. There are many opportunities for anyone going through Sacramental preparation.
  • Establishing classes named to pull seeker in; e. “How to raise Faith Filled Kids” or “Seeking Christ”

  Parish Public Relations:  Techniques  (Karen)

  • Consider a parish brochure.
  • Maybe  all our media (bulletin, newsletter, website) need to contain explicit stories  for  seekers – conversion, invitations, feel presence of Christ
  • Make our logo consistent across all platforms
  • Develop a communications plan to make use  of many tools available to reach seekers.

Organization and Evangelization Teams (Gregg)

  • Go out and do !
  • Keep the message simple to recruit enough volunteers.
  • Do not overwhelm with too many projects at once to avoid
  • The message we make to those we visit should, “Come from Contribution”

 Home Visitation:  Direct Ministry Reaching Out (Patricia)

  • Identify purpose of home visit – be realistic and positive
  • Design visit – prepare visitors- who will visit?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • Have a ‘follow-up’ – a debriefing after visit

 Parish Planning:  Key to Active Ministry (Justin)

  • Goals and Strategies developed
  • Ways to support Evangelization
  • Objectives and its Strategies
  • Implement, Review, Revise

 

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Get the Message!

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“Mass media, put at the service of the Gospel, are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard. The Church will feel guilty before the Lord if she does not utilize these powerful means” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, #45).

Pope Paul wrote those words about 40 years ago. What were the “powerful means” at the time? Radio and TV. What do we have now? Lots more!

In Session 9, Fr. Frank shared public relations techniques for the parish. These include everything from the bulletin to the website to the way we greet people at the doors of the church.

He urges us to look at our parish as an “outsider.” What do we see?

What are some of his suggestions:

Be sure that your message is applicable to seekers

Do we have a parish brochure?

Use pictures of PEOPLE, not things

Use snail mail

Use the internet creatively to engage people

Have a common image or logo for the parish

The most important message is sent by how we live our faith, how we welcome & invite others

QUESTIONS:

What kind of image does our parish project to outsiders? It was discussed that the church is hard to find! Also, can we have greeters at EVERY door? Especially when giving away books.

What steps can be taken so the parish conveys a message that invites others to share in the journey of faith, especially seekers and inactives? What resources need to be changed?

Perhaps we can have more explicit information in the bulletin and newsletter and on the website directed toward seekers

 

If we were to design a brochure, what would it contain? Pictures! Map, mission statement, relationship with the Lord.

 

What other resources do we need to reach others more effectively? Business cards, videos, conversations about conversion. A communications plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome the Seeker

church4SESSION 7

In Session 7, Fr. Anthony Krisak spoke about the dynamics of hospitality and welcome, especially for the “seekers.” He spoke specifically about how we welcome at worship. (Our mission statement says we “welcome all in worship” so how can we be intentional about this?)

Consider some of his tips and think – how do we rate:

  • Warmly greeting all at Mass
  • Worship guides easily accessible
  • Accessibility for the disabled
  • Ministers make extra efforts to greet & guide
  • Encourage assembly participation
  • Musical repertoire broadly accessible
  • Lectors proclaim word powerfully
  • Homilies well prepared and resonate with real life experience

What do newcomers see?

  • Clutter or order?
  • Parish bulletin and flyers: easily accessible, attractively displayed?
  • Bulletin: Who is it written for?

Parish Website as a place of encounter: 

  • Inviting and appealing?
  • Needed information easy to find?
  • Any kind of interaction? i.e., pictures, blogs, recorded homilies

Lessons on learning to invite:

  • Not pressuring or judging
  • Open invitation
  • Honoring the invitee
  • Use Wisdom, understanding, judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder & awe.

 

QUESTIONS: 

  • What is inviting about MQP?
  • What detracts from hospitality and what can we do about it?
  • What suggestions do we have for the website to make it more accessible & inviting?

webgraphicSESSION 8: Engaging Seekers – what can we do?

In Session 8, Fr. Krisak is back!

His big question: What if we developed our existing programs with the aim of reaching not only Catholics in the pews but also those who are seekers?

How can we change the way we do what we do?

What are people seeking? The “good life” – which St. Augustine has the answer for: Our hearts are restless till they rest in God.

Ways to reach seekers:

  • pastoral minitry
  • worship
  • small faith communities
  • sacramental prep

Pastoral ministers can:

  • Become more attentive to seekers
  • Learn about their questions
  • Be open to listening
  • Give feedback
  • Live faith vibrantly

A question: What would liturgy look like with the aim of reaching “seekers”?

We need to be mission-oriented

The model to follow: RCIA – group dynamics, room for questions, dialogue, connecting faith with experience

Adult formation:

Design formation for seekers – experience-based, personal relationship, dynamic, joined in service

ALWAYS THINK:

  • How do we reach those who “do not belong:
  • Why are we here?
  • Who does God give us to reach?

The possibilities of sacramental prep to reach seekers: These moments can awaken seekers (I attended a conference in which one presenter said he would hand out cards to parents at sacramental prep with one question: “How are you today?” Interesting…)

Evangelization Teams: Be creative! Be inviting! Be bold!

QUESTIONS:

Name one program or ministry in which you are directly involved and describe some ways it might be developed to reach seekers? We discussed men’s spirituality (maybe the need for another “women’s spirituality”) and tweaking ministries/programs to be open to seekers.

Name one or two people you know – what issues do they face and what questions do they have?

Name some ways parish programs might reach seekers…

What first steps are needed to make your parish more inviting and welcoming to seekers? Who can help take these first steps? What does our evangelization team need to do?

Any thoughts? Questions? Ideas to share?

 

See you all May 1 🙂

 

 

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Thinking Small

AWAKEN

Our Evangelization Team meeting on March 27 focused on specific resources that may help inactive Catholics reconnect with the faith. Each one focuses on small groups that will engage people in conversation that will lead to conversion and to connection with the larger parish.

Fr. DiSiano discussed these three programs:

1. Inviting Catholics Home, based on the book by Sally Mews. We have used this at Mary, Queen of Peace. As Jerry discussed, many people were called but few showed up for the six-week program. The good news: One of the women who did show up is a regular church-goer.

2. Landings International. The program includes small groups for six to eight sessions. Concentrates on individuals and their stories. Uses the strengths of self-help movements. You can find out more here.

3. Awakening Faith. This program responds to the new paradigm of inactive Catholics who tend to be younger, grew up without a strong Catholic identity, and do not think of themselves as being “away.” (The “huh?” generation when we talk about “Come Home.)

Awakening faith is a small-group program that goes for six sessions, with four more optional sessions. There is an emphasis on welcoming and hospitality. Facilitator for small group would be trained, someone to get people talking and help avoid arguments. Find out more here.

Our discussion tended to revolve around the Awakening Faith program and the possibilities there. Fr. Ronnie noted that Awakening Faith seems to speak to the demographics in our parish (younger people coming in who do not feel disconnected, even if they are). There was a discussion about ministries using the program, or perhaps choosing a group of 12 (including us!) to go through the program and be trained to facilitate small groups. Fr. Ronnie emphasized the need for person invitation, and meetings in the home were discussed as a possible way to make people comfortable. Although it may be more comfortable for some to meet at the parish.

Erie was to call Fr. Frank with some questions, while Sandy was going to check with St. Anselm’s in regard to their “Come Home” program.

Meanwhile, we pray that each sunrise will awaken every heart to God’s overwhelming love.

sunrise

 

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Being Present to the Absent

Vatican Pope Liberated Doves“An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast.” (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 24)

In Session 5, Jerry led us on a discussion of “Approaches to Inactive Catholics: Part 1, Serving Absent Catholics.”

Fr. DiSiano made many good points, such as:

Percentages of worship frequency vary by age, but overall, weekly worship frequency is low (23 percent at once a week, though Fr. Ronnie points out that that number is probably higher in the South and in our parish)

One size does not fit all: There are many reasons why Catholics do not come to church. Here are some – marriage issues, issues of work and time, anger, etc.

Some categories of inactive:

  • Alienated – Think of themselves as Catholic but have anger
  • Lapsed – No longer think of themselves as Catholic
  • Inactive – Think of themselves as Catholics but do not worship regularly
  • Episodic – Think of themselves as Catholic but worship irregularly

How do we help people rebuild their Catholic identity?

We have to look at what is going on in the world: In a consumer culture, faith is another option among many. Also, authority has a limited effect in thinking.

What will connect with people? Their experience. And how do we help people link their experiences with faith? Through conversation. We have to give them the experience of commitment to Christ by engaging in dialogue.

To do this, we have to have trust and patience. People have to “grapple with ideas and teachings” and this tames time.

WHAT ARE SOME METHODS?

  • Connect people to groups for conversation
  • Help people move from smaller groups to the larger group of the parish
  • Redefine the experience of Catholicism as more relational than institutional
  • Create larger voices of welcome and invitation from the wider Church

A NEW PARADIGM – We are responding to inactive Catholics who tend to be younger,  grew up without strong Catholic identity, and may not think of themselves as being “away.”

We need to renew their connections to Jesus!

OUR REFLECTIONS: 

  • Jerry asked that we each pray for someone who is inactive in the Catholic faith; he asked that we pray for what we need to approach that person with an invitation.
  • We need to proceed with caution: Judge not and be joyful
  • Fr. Ronnie would like to consider small faith groups – maybe 100 people involved in small groups. Facilitator would need formation and training.
  • All things should revolve around the person of Jesus – a relational church
  • As Fr. Frank said, we need to “radiate love and acceptance”
  • Ministry leaders need to understand their role in the New Evangelization
  • How do we use social media to reach the young?

Other thoughts??? Share here…

 

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Waking Catholics up to Christ

caravaggio-the-conversion-of-st-paul-1601In Session 4, we discussed “Evangelizing Active Catholics: Ongoing Conversion in Catholic Life.” One of Fr. Anthony Krisak’s points, quoting William James, was that Catholics may be called either “twice born” (healed and repaired by faith) or “once born” (with faith as a deepening and growth throughout life). I heard a speaker refer to this once as Catholics who are either “Pauls” (powerful conversion experience) or “Timothys” (growing in a life of faith).

Either way, Fr. Krisak’s point was that we all have a story about our life of faith in Christ. What’s your story? How can we share our stories with others and invite them to become aware of the story God has written in their hearts?

Jesus_ChristMore main points from Session 4:

  • How do we engage Catholics in conversion, commitment discipleship?
  • How do we move from maintenance to mission?
  • The heart of evangelization is conversion to Jesus Christ
  • Are our liturgies full of the power of the Word? Do they exhibit an enthusiasm for the faith?
  • Centrality of prayer: orientation, disorientation, reorientation
  • Small faith communities bring something to the parish: They connect people with the Word
  • Strengthen family life
  • Make parish a welcoming place

Some points from our discussion (please add anything I may have missed or any thoughts that have come to you since we met):

What are the areas of parish life that support the evangelizing perspective in this session? Some said we have many opportunities – but most of them are during the day. Can we have some in the evening? Other ideas: Q&A in the bulletin. RCIA format for Catholics. Small faith sharing groups.

What are one or two areas in which the parish could do a better job in evangelizing “active” Catholics? Family Life – How can we help young parents create a domestic church? How can we help people build a relationship with Jesus Christ? How can we raise awareness of the Spirit’s great awakening in people’s lives?

What are some first steps to answer these questions?

Does your parish have a vision statement about the kind of community it hopes to become? What helps us to become that parish? Does anything need to change about that vision?

Other thoughts: We cannot judge. When we judge, we don’t offer the love of Christ to anyone.

Thoughts? Ideas? Practical suggestions? Reply and follow! And meanwhile …

goandmakedisciples

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A parish by any other name…

Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

ImageIn Session 3, Fr. Frank (and Wayne) led us through a challenging look at “What is a parish?” Fr. Frank emphasizes:

“Purpose of parish: not primarily to serve its parishioners … rather, to serve parishioners so they become agents of the Kingdom in the world.”

A parish, really, is about evangelization: About making disciples through Word, Worship, Community and Service. 

A few challenges from Fr. Frank:

  • Word: How can we empower people for daily prayer?
  • Worship: How can we unpack the evangelizing dimensions of the Mass? How can we make the experience of liturgy direct and compelling?
  • Community: How can we express community in powerful ways? How do we cultivate the relational?
  • Service: Do we reach out to the neighborhood? Is the parish about “us” or about “the other”?
  • Is our parish in Recline, Decline, or Incline?

What if you visited our parish as a stranger? Think of these things:

  • Parking
  • Welcome
  • Ministers
  • Signage
  • Choir
  • Greeting
  • Congregation
  • Presider

What we discussed: Ministry leaders need to be trained to be evangelizers. How do we equip people to “go out”? We miss people who don’t quite fit our mold (See the book “Messy Spirituality”)

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: Maybe we need to “go out,” to offer to pray with others.

What seems to hinder or prevent the parish from being mission-oriented? Fleur-de-Fall, although it also brings together many people who are not regular church-goers. It is an opportunity to evangelize. A morning of prayer, maybe in August, was suggested to help focus the effort through the lens of evangelization

Do we sell too many things in the foyer of church? Do we need some balance?

What do you think?? What are our challenges as a parish, and how can we deal with these challenges creatively?

 

 

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