I hope readers of The Catholic Spirit have had the opportunity to read my latest Pastoral Letter on the New Evangelization, “I believed, therefore I spoke” (2 Corinthians 4:13), a letter that was published in the Sept. 27 edition of this paper.
One of the main points I make in this text is the gratitude we should have for the forebearers in this local Church who made great sacrifices and bore heavy burdens in order to bring the message of the Gospel to the native people of our area, as well as to the immigrants who had come after them.
Figures such as Father Louis Hennepin, Father Lucien Galtier, Father Augustin Ravoux, the Sisters of St. Joseph and Bishop Joseph Cretin are all familiar to us as heroic pioneers who established the foundation for the local Church in which we live today. We are in their debt and our gratitude should be generously authentic.
But, at the same time, we have learned from the Second Vatican Council that the duty to spread the Gospel applies not only to priests and religious, but also to every baptized member of the laity.
In fact, in many ways, lay people are better positioned to carry out the task of evangelization in the world than clergy — at home, at work, in the neighborhood, at recreation centers, and in the great marketplace of ideas that is the modern world.
Those who have left the practice of the faith or those who have never known it will be much more influenced by the way in which they see other lay men and women live the faith or hear them speak of this marvelous gift that Christ has shared with them than with the lives of priests and religious who are often quite removed from their everyday experience.
For this reason, we in this archdiocese have now entered a new stage of the strategic plan for our parishes and schools, a plan that we embarked upon four years ago. This stage is truly crucial, and depends on the lay faithful embracing their baptismal call to be evangelists in our world.
The first stage focused on right-sizing our resources so as to have the capacity to embark upon the task of having our parishes be more dynamic communities of faith, hope and love.
But this second stage, the stage we are entering now, involves a program called Rediscover: — which calls all of us to re-evaluate the meaning that our Catholic faith has in our lives.
There are several components to our plan:
1) Rediscovering the place of daily prayer, especially “lectio divina,” in our lives;
2) Rediscovering a more dynamic engagement with the Sunday Eucharist;
3) Rediscovering our need for the sacrament of penance/reconciliation for the forgiveness of our sins;
4) Rediscovering a three or 10-minute testimony of why one is Catholic, a testimony that one can share with others;
5) Rediscovering our exercise of the corporal works of mercy;
6) Rediscovering a new enthusiasm for ecumenical dialogue;
7) Rediscovering the communal dimension of our Catholic journey in the faith through the special archdiocesan events that have been planned for this year.
Encounter with Jesus
As Pope Benedict XVI has said so frequently, the New Evangelization begins with an intimate personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and results in a compelling witness to his Gospel that responds to a changing social and cultural environment.
Ultimately, we must rediscover Jesus, so that we may rediscover, or perhaps discover for the first time, the joy and peace we are called to share with the world.
Please join me in praying for the success of Rediscover:, aimed as it is at a more dynamic, engaged local Church of faith, hope and love.
God bless you!