Archdiocesan ministries collaborate to provide formation, parish evangelization programs
October 26, 2021
“Transformados en el Amor,” a Marriage preparation program for Spanish-speaking members of the community, was held at Cameron Retreat Center. (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Medina)
HOUSTON — The call of the faithful to reflect the light of Christ and proclaim the Gospel to build up the Kingdom of God today and for future generations is fundamental to the missionary role of the Church. This requires a well-formed faith and focus on evangelization efforts from leadership at all levels of parish life.
Responsible for these efforts in the Archdiocese is the Secretariat for Pastoral and Educational Ministries, which assists 146 parishes across 10 counties.
The 2021 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) provides funding for the programs and staffing of 13 ministries that collaborate to provide parish leaders with comprehensive pastoral ministry formation and evangelization initiatives through the Pastoral and Educational Ministries.
The Archdiocesan Evangelization Commission assists parishes with the development, oversight and evaluation of various evangelization initiatives. This includes fostering discussions between parish leaders and the Pastoral and Educational Ministries on how to maintain an evangelizing focus in all efforts.
Pastors and parish pastoral councils also receive help with discernment of new council members, council development and planning, and retreats that are provided by secretariat staff and volunteers.
“The commission has sponsored many initiatives for parishes, including ‘Disciples in Mission’ and ‘Renew,’ both for small-group evangelization, and ‘Faith Comes by Hearing,’ an audio-Bible listening program,” said Jim Barrette, director of the Evangelization Commission and the Secretariat for Pastoral and Educational Ministries.
“We regularly review a number of programs, organizations and movements related to evangelization, and once the reviews are complete, recommendations are made to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. Once approved, these programs are offered and promoted as an additional resource to our parishes to maintain an evangelizing focus in all efforts.”
Another ministry provided through Pastoral and Educational Ministries is the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE). It provides leadership, formation and resources in comprehensive youth ministry for parishes to effectively form adolescents into lifelong disciples in the Catholic tradition.
One of its popular events is the annual Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC), designed to give youth an opportunity to celebrate their faith, learn about their role in the local Church, lead them into a deeper relationship with Christ and challenge them to live out their faith as Disciples of Christ when they return home.
Participants encounter Jesus Christ through their peers, youth ministry leaders, priests, local and national speakers, workshops, and in the Eucharist and the Sacraments of the Church.
The Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry (YACM) provides worship, formation, retreats and fellowship opportunities for young adults in their late teens, 20s and 30s. Within the Archdiocese, the ministry is active in more than 50 parishes in English and 40 parishes in Spanish (or bilingual).
The YACM Office provides support and formation for all parish-based young adult ministry leaders, including events and retreats to gather all young adults together throughout the year. One of these key programs is Café Catholica, an annual summer series that features dynamic speakers, prayer, and socializing. Café Catholica Lite takes the excitement of the summer event and offers the program throughout the year at different parishes.
Through the Family Life Ministry, the Pastoral and Educational Ministries also provides individuals and couples preparing for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage with extensive support and resources offered in both English and Spanish. Programs include marriage discernment, couple’s assessments, marriage preparation programs, a marriage timeline, and other useful marriage preparation information.
“’Transformados en el Amor,’ a marriage preparation program for our Spanish-speaking members of the community, is a modern and sacramentally rich perspective of marriage that encourages many couples to elevate their love to our Lord,” said Ricardo Medina, director of the Family Life Ministry.
“We also offer ‘Before the Vows,’ our newest marriage preparation program created in Houston, especially for our Millennial, college-educated couples. We feel that it offers an undiluted, engaging and vibrant Catholicism preparing our couples for a lifelong journey of love.”
The Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (OEC) offers families a new infant baptismal preparation program, “Springs of Faith,” that was co-developed by Loyola Press and the Archdiocese.
Juan Carlos Moreno, associate director of the OEC, said the program is innovative because it has three different components aimed at evangelizing family members according to where they are in their faith walk.
“For those that may be seeking or have questions about the Catholic faith, the program includes a ‘Discover’ phase where families are engaged to openly discuss faith concepts while learning about Catholic beliefs and practices,” said Moreno. “The ‘Encounter’ phase is the traditional part of baptismal preparation and is aimed at fully preparing parents for the holy and joyous sacramental celebration by covering the entire Rite of Baptism. Finally, the ‘Share’ phase is designed to lay the foundation for a meaningful, lifelong practice of their baptismal call in the parish.”
Jerome’s Hope, offered by the Office of Pro-Life Activities (PLA), provides healing support for parents and families that experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss or prenatal diagnosis.
“Jerome’s Hope serves as a support to families during a time of grief when many parents feel alone and unsure where to turn,” said Julie Fritsch Dumalet, JD, director of PLA. “The ministry team works with families suffering miscarriage and infant loss and those receiving prenatal diagnosis. Our team provides accompaniment, answers to practical questions about burial and memorial rites, retreats for parents, opportunities for spiritual direction, counseling and much more.”
For additional information and a comprehensive list of ministries offered through the Pastoral and Educational Ministries, visit https://www.archgh.org/pem.