Dear Parish Family,
It's an exciting time in history to be Catholic. While there seems to be no end in sight to the bad news we see day after day in the news, there also presents a tremendous door of opportunity for a Catholic voice. The question that remains is this: will that voice be heard? And will the language of that voice be understood by today's secular culture? God has called all Catholics to reach out to others with the timeless gospel of Jesus Christ and to learn how to do that in a way the culture around us can understand and respond to. But let's be honest. The reality is that the vast majority of Catholics in the United States are not inclined to share their faith with others. Pope Paul VI confronted this issue head-on in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelization in the Modern World, when he stated:
"We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize. . ."
In 1990, Pope John Paul II wrote in Mission of the Redeemer:
"I sense that the moment has come to commit all the Church's energies to a new evangelization...No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples."
Recently, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan uttered a profound, yet simple statement: "The New Evangelization will be fulfilled with a yes and not a no." In other words, this is our opportunity to tell the world all of the true, good and beautiful things the Catholic Church is for and not just what we are against. It's an opportunity to propose (not impose) a new and living way to do life based on the love and truth revealed in Christ. Every person is created with unique gifts, talents and temperaments – all of which can be used to reach others who have yet to hear or understand the good news of God's plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.
In order to share Christ with others in their own 'language and culture' we need to know where people are today in their worldview. Often in Catholic circles we can presume that the world outside the Church has some understanding of our traditions or our Faith. But this couldn't be further from the truth, which is why Christ and the Church are calling us to use 'new methods, ardor and expression' in our effort to bring the riches of Christ and His gospel to them. As a response to this great calling of the Church, the position of Pastoral Administrator for Evangelization and Mission was initiated here at the parish on July 1st to give the due efforts needed in this area of evangelization. To start off the evangelization campaign, we have engaged in activities such as having a booth at the 4-H Fair, conducted a parish-wide Marian Consecration, started Wednesday night formation sessions, and are currently looking into other outreaches that reach many more groups both in and out of the parish.
Today's Church calls for a mission mode, not a maintenance model. No longer can we presume our people will come; no longer can we wait for the folks to show up; no more can we be comfortable that people baptized and raised Catholic will live and die Catholic; no longer can we do business as usual; no longer can we spend all our energy and resources on maintaining structures that are no longer working; no more can we wring our hands over our problems and fret about just keeping our heads above water. Now we must "cast out to the deep!" Let us begin this journey with the Lord!