Have you been reading your copy of “Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose” that you received from your parish last month?
Are you ready to accept an invitation to strengthen your Catholic faith and invite others to know and love Jesus and his Church more deeply?
The book distribution was among the first outreach efforts of Rediscover: — a new pre-evangelization, evangelization and catechesis initiative of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that will complement existing outreach efforts in local parishes.
Converting hearts begins with “encountering the person of Jesus Christ — it has to be that personal relationship,” said Archbishop John Nienstedt in an interview with The Catholic Spirit. “So it’s not just a question of getting people into the doors of the church. We have to get them to fall in love with Christ.”
But, he added, a renewed faith “can’t just remain individual; it has to become something that’s communal as well because we’re members of the body of Christ. . . . And it doesn’t stop with church. We have to strengthen our family life and be out in the community in terms of taking care of the poor and the sick and people who have real needs.”
A series of opportunities to strengthen faith and nurture a more personal encounter with Christ will follow over the next several months, including Rediscover: book clubs, a faith speakers series and an archdiocesan-wide celebration of the Catholic faith this fall at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
A Rediscover: app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices will debut soon featuring hundreds of articles on everything from God to culture in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format.
Users will be able to customize the app to assist their faith and prayer life and use geo-location to find parishes as well as times for Mass, confession and Eucharistic adoration. Visit rediscoverapp.com to learn more about the app and sign up to be notified when it launches.
Each issue of The Catholic Spirit this year will feature a special four-page pullout section focused on a Rediscover: faith theme that could be used as a study aid by individuals, families, parish groups and high school youth. The section will include columns by local priests and lay people as well as one by Matthew Kelly, the author of “Rediscover Catholicism” who spoke to local pastors and parish leaders about the initiative last November.
“It is the most inspiring thing I have seen in the Church at a diocesan level in the 20 years I have been speaking and writing,” Kelly said about the Rediscover: initiative. “Most of all I am looking forward to [how] it will ignite people’s faith [in ways] that we have not even imagined. We are working toward some intended outcomes, but the Holy Spirit will take this work and use it for so much more.”
An evangelizing community
Archbishop Nienstedt said Rediscover: flows from the archdiocese’s Strategic Plan for Parishes and Schools announced in 2010 that is helping to “right size” local parish and school ministries “so that we can become an evangelizing community once again.”
He cited Kelly’s book in noting that the Catholic Church, over its 2,000-year history, has fed, clothed and housed more people than any other religious denomination. The Church has been one of the biggest benefactors of the arts, and it has been a premier defender of human rights.
“But we have forgotten how to tell our story,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “What’s worse, [Kelly] said, is we’ve let others tell the story for us. . . . This is an opportunity for us to regain our footing and be able to tell the great story that is ours. That’s exciting.”
Of the 74 million Catholics in the United States, research shows that only about 17 million attend Mass every week.
And about 7 percent of Catholics can be characterized as “actively engaged” — they are generous with their time, talent and treasure; they commit to regular prayer; they strive to learn more about their faith; and they display a willingness to share their faith and bring others to Christ.
Increasing the percentage of actively engaged Catholics, as Rediscover: seeks to do, “would be a great success,” the archbishop said.
Rediscover: is relying on people actively engaged in their faith to reach out to those who are less involved — people in the pews most or some Sundays who feel a connection to the faith but might not know how to go deeper.
Every Christian, the archbishop noted in this recent pastoral letter on the new evangelization, “is called to be an evangelist.”
Speaking to pastors and parish leaders in November, Archbishop Nienstedt said he had just returned from the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, where much of the focus was on the new evangelization proclaimed by the Church and Pope Benedict XVI.
“Everyone there agreed that the ‘new’ in that expression is precisely the new historical situation that we find ourselves in — that is, a society that is thoroughly secular with no reference to God or eternity, a society that is likewise materialistic and individualistic in its decision-making and its attitudes,” he said.
“Yet, my brothers and sisters,” he added, “it is precisely in this context that you and I are called to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ — a message that is Good News because it offers light and truth, guidance and hope to many who have lost their way in their quest for happiness.”
Search for happiness
“The core yearning of the human spirit is for happiness,” Kelly said. “If you open the catechism, [it] talks about man’s yearning for happiness. God created us for happiness. And really our yearning for happiness is a yearning for God.
“We do the things we do because we believe they will make us happy. Sometimes, we’re mistaken. . . . I think we live in an environment where more and more people are confused about what will fulfill them — everything from shopping, to drinking, to sex, to the applause of the people around us. We’re very, very confused about what will actually bring happiness.”
During the last half-century, people have been getting more and more of what they want, he added. “But are people happier today than they were 50 years ago? I think most people would say no. I think people are more irritable, more restless and more discontent today than they were 50 years ago.”
The Rediscover: initiative can help them find the source of true happiness, — a deeper relationship with Christ and his Church, Kelly said.
Critical to the success of Rediscover: is a focus on invitation and hospitality by those who count themselves among the Church’s “actively engaged,” Kelly added.
“People don’t come to a party they’re not invited to,” he said. “We have to become a people of invitation — whether it’s inviting people to church, or inviting people to an event, or inviting people to read a book or listen to a CD.
“Once they’re invited, we have to make them feel welcome. People will walk through the doors of your church this Sunday for the first time. There’s a pretty good chance no one will acknowledge them. Nobody will know they are there for the first time. Nobody will ask them, ‘If there’s anybody here for the first time, we’d love to talk to you for three minutes after Mass.’
“They will either have an experience that resonates with them or not. If they have one that resonates with them, they’ll be back next Sunday. If they don’t, they’ll be at another church down the road next Sunday that may or may not be Catholic.
“Hospitality is critically important.”
Molly Schorr, director of parish life at St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park who attended a Rediscover: launch event in November, said “now is the time to share that [faith] message. Deep down, I firmly believe that every person knows who Jesus Christ is and knows who God is in their life. But the ability to share that, and the ability to embrace what that means in everyday practice has gotten lost because there’s not an avenue for that.
“An evangelization initiative [like Rediscover:] first of all gives people permission to talk about it and to share their faith. But then it also encourages and empowers people to practice that in everything that they do.”
Save the dateThe 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration will be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12 at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
Featured speakers include Archbishop John Nienstedt; Matthew Kelly; Father Robert Barron, founder of the global ministry Word on Fire and rector/president of Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago; Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas; Martha Fernández-Sardina, director of the Office for Evangelization in the Archdiocese of San Antonio; and chastity speaker Jason Evert. Jeff Cavins will serve as emcee.
Registration opens in April.
Download the Rediscover: App
The new Rediscover: app for iPhone, Android and iPad is now available!
It features exciting new functionality to support your faith journey, all in one place. Visit Rediscoverapp.com to download now.