Beginning evangelization in a diocese or parish requires taking one little step at a time. I believe that the New Evangelization will truly occur when all the members of the Church come to understand that it is their mission to evangelize, not just the clergy or people who work in ministry for the parish/diocese. It has been a year and a half since I began to do parish Evangelization Team training in the Diocese of Beaumont, and it is truly going along “step by little step”.
In our office we developed a two-day Friday evening through Saturday training that attempts to introduce parishioners to an overview of the ministry of a parish Evangelization Team. We begin with the USCCB Webinar from their Leadership Institute “An Evangelizing Laity,” Susan Timoney, STD, because she places the mission of evangelization within each person’s baptism as priest, prophet, and king. After view and discussing the questions, also available on the USCCB website, our participants come to the realization that they should and can evangelize through their everyday words and actions. The next day we use the Paulist Evangelization Ministries’ Jump Start Evangelization Starter Kit which is based on Fr. Frank DeSiano’s book The Evangelizing Catholic. (See schedule below.)
Anytime a parish has asked for the training I advertise it to nearby parishes and send the schedule out to all pastors asking them to contact me if they would like the training in their parish. In this way I have been able to continue adding training every couple of months. Sometimes if it occurs in a rural area the participants are just from that parish, but in the larger cities I often have participants from two or three parishes that come together. When this occurs I ask the participants to sit according to parish and discuss the material based on their particular parish situation and needs.
Friday, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
o Light Dinner
USCCB Leadership Institute Webinar – “An Evangelizing Laity”, Susan Timoney, STD
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
(Jump Start Evangelization Starter Kit, Paulist Evangelization Ministries)
o Coffee and…
Session One – Preliminary Considerations (Ties in with the Friday session)
Session Two – Personal Evangelization (At home in the family and the world)
Session Three – Parish Welcoming Strategies (Evaluating the parish as a newcomer would)
o Lunch (45 minutes)
Session Four – Public Relations and Mailings (Practical things to be aware of)
Session Five – Home Visitations (Kinds of visits and practical considerations)
Session Six – Evangelization Teams and the Larger Context (How the Evangelization Team relates
to parish staff and other parish committees)
I have found that after the training people are quite enthused and looking forward to beginning their work as a member of the Evangelization Team in their parish. Sometimes pastors invite certain people to attend the training that they would specifically like to be on the Evangelization Team, but sometimes it is just open to anyone in the parish interested in learning more about the New Evangelization. Whoever comes is welcomed, whether potential team members or interested Catholics. Getting the word out slowly has been working in the Diocese of Beaumont with much still needing to be done “step by little step.”