The Washington Post has published a feature article on a local campaign for “the new evangelization” in Washington DC. Targeting strategies for face-to-face witness and invitation, the Archdiocese is seeking especially to mobilize young Catholics to share their faith.
The campaign seeks to overhaul the concept of evangelization to something built for 2013, more subtle invitation then pushy dogma. In new church-created classes, lectures, conferences and iPhone apps, Catholics are asked to think of evangelization in terms of generous gestures, small comments and overcoming the fear of simply inviting someone to church.
They followed one such individual, and noted that in addition to knocking on doors and inviting people to church, non-verbal witness is also on the agenda.
Meanwhile he’s been making daily efforts. He’ll use a piece of religion news as a conversation starter, make a visible point of walking out of the room at the office when talk turns to a racy, drunken work party, or wear a suit from a morning prayer event to work so people might ask why he’s so dressed up.
Readers of TeamRCIA will know, of course, that evangelization has been the subject of papal teaching since Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have continued the trend.
Pope Francis used his weekly public address a few weeks ago to explain the campaign, saying Catholicism “does not grow by means of proselytizing” but “by attraction, by witnessing, by preaching.”
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest who works with the Vatican’s press office, had a list of what the effort is not.
“It’s not a public relations campaign to bolster the troops. It’s not a whitewash. It’s not proselytizing nor some media strategy. It is a new way of telling the old story to people of today. It’s a bridge, an outreach; it’s a new lens, a new perspective,” Rosica said.
You can read the whole thing here.
Evangelization is a significant component of the RCIA. It is also a broader category that can be applied to spreading the Gospel through culture and structures of society as well as enlivening the faith of the already baptized. A renaissance of the concept of evangelization came about in modern times because of the Second Vatican Council.
A recent Synod on Evangelization in Rome, coupled with concern about survey data showing increasing indifference to religion among the younger generation, has spurred efforts in some local churches.
I found the article informative, and thought it might stir some discussion here. To start this off, here are my questions:
- Are there any such initiatives underway where you are?
- Are they having an effect on the influx of people through the RCIA?
- What, if any, relationships are being built between “new evangelization” efforts and catechumenate teams?
2 thoughts on “Evangelization in the News”
The Archdiocese of Washington is my home diocese. It’s rock-solid! I am delighted to see this kind of approach to “preaching the Gospel without words” like in that quote of dubious origin. There’s a big difference between just going about your business and hoping someone asks about Jesus and taking action to spark those conversations.
Belated but heartfelt thanks, Lindsay, for your witness to what is happening in your area. “Taking action to spark those conversations” isn’t really all that difficult, because often enough people do want to talk about faith. But it’s a big step for those who have never done it. God bless your efforts!