New Evangelization focuses on ‘living the message, practicing the faith’
February 7, 2016
HOUSTON — Based on the foundation to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19), evangelization is both a universal mission and a call for each individual to respond in faith.
In the parish community of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a newly formed committee is focusing on New Evangelization in an effort to build such awareness in the laity and church at large.
“New Evangelization is a call within the Church to bring the Gospel to those who had been ‘sacramentalized’ and catechized,” Cecilia Estrada, a committee member, said. “Basically, it is an outreach to bring the Gospel anew. Our primary focus is not necessarily on those who haven’t heard the Gospel but on those who heard the news of who Christ is but aren’t necessarily in tune with living that message, practicing the faith.”
As cited by the committee’s three-year plan currently being implemented at the parish, the root of the New Evangelization is in the movements of the Holy Spirit of Vatican Council II to the present day Church. This call requires a shift in emphasis to one of shared responsibility amongst the faithful. This re-evangelization requires a missionary spirit in the Church and in the individual faithful.
According to Estrada, one of the committee’s aspirations is to invite non-practicing Catholics to be re-engaged in the Church and inspired by the Holy Spirit because of what they learned from the Gospel they “heard again.”
“And for those practicing Catholics, they are called to live their faith even more strongly or in a deeper way,” Estrada said, “Our hope is that the re-evangelization will take root in renewing the Church in a new and profound way,” Estrada said.
Founded in 2014, the parish’s Evangelization Committee addresses the needs in the community by adopting goals set forth by the U.S. Catholic Bishops document “Go and Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States.” The first of the parish’s three goals include reminding the faithful of their baptismal call and inviting them into relationship with Jesus; calling the faithful to live as a community of faith and to foster knowledge and enthusiasm; and inviting the faith community to encounter and receive each other in Christ.
The other parish goals involving inviting all to hear the message of Christ to actively participate, live and grow in faith and to bring Christ to others by embracing and promoting the dignity of the human person, appreciating the importance of family and transforming society by example.
The intent of those goals is to deepen the sense of Scripture and sacrament with a greater sense of openness, to create a welcoming attitude to all and live in appreciation of our faith – leading to a transformation in society.
Jim Barrette, another committee member, said “intention” is a key component to New Evangelization.
“It is not always about what we can do as faithful Catholics or how we can do these things, but why,” Barrette said. “Why should we do these things as Catholics, what is the intention? Those are questions that need to be addressed to be fully active and engaged members in the Church.”
Barrette, the Secretariat Director for Pastoral and Educational Ministries in the Archdiocese, and Estrada serve on the Evangelization Commission for the Archdiocese.
The committee continuously explores avenues of collaboration at the parish, including with the Co-Cathedral’s very active and extensive outreach ministry (see “Caritas Day” story on pg. 6). In addition, the committee has spearheaded efforts to welcome new parishioners at the Co-Cathedral and networks with other parishes in the Archdiocese – an opportunity that raises the New Evangelization “conversation” in the greater Church community.
“Evangelization is always occurring but identifying and understanding those needs is key to the plan,” Estrada said. For more information about New Evangelization in the Archdiocese, visit www.archgh.org/evangelization, call 713-741-8785 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.