Diocesan Evangelization Plan Completes Second Year, Sets New Goals
By Theodore J. Musco
Recent reports indicate that approximately 10,000 people from over 80 parishes in Brooklyn and Queens participated the fall 2016 parish small group process appropriately named Arise: Together in Christ. This is tremendous news for not only those who led or participated in a small group, but for everyone who takes the role of missionary disciple seriously. I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and well, forming missionary disciples who are tasked with helping others encounter Christ.
The Diocese of Brooklyn has a well-respected evangelization and renewal program that provides a framework for us to be well prepared “missionary disciples,” a term Pope Francis has frequently used. He reminds us that, “All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization.”
So we are called to do something, no matter how great or small, to assist in bringing others to the joy that comes from encountering Christ. Everyone is included because of our baptism.
The diocesan evangelization plan, “The Joy of Encountering Christ – The Family’s Hope” – which has just completed its second year – calls for us as missionary disciples and members of parishes, families, and the Diocese who work collaboratively with parish leadership to help achieve at least these six goals:
- Offering multiple opportunities for people to encounter Christ
- Increasing Mass attendance
- Increasing daily prayer opportunities
- Attracting and supporting inactive Catholics
- Enhancing participation in parish life/religious education at all levels of faith formation
- Inviting and welcoming seekers
Some goals can be achieved by extending a simple invitation to a family member or friend. Others require hard work.
It was just over two years ago that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio wrote: “The Diocesan School of Evangelization created this process to serve as a ‘springboard,’ that is to say a collection of events, resources, and practical ideas to assist parishes, families, and individuals in their effort to know Christ and His Church more fully and love Christ and His Church more deeply.”
We have an opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished over the past two years, and ask ourselves what we can do now and in the future to prepare to respond even more enthusiastically to Jesus’ call to “Go make disciples.”
Here are a few highlights from the past year, demonstrating how many people participated in some form of personal evangelization and renewal formation related to the evangelization and renewal plan:
- Nearly 1,000 people participated in the annual School of Evangelization Diocesan Evangelization Congress at St. Francis Prep.
- More than 400 youth and young people attended World Youth Day in Poland.
- More than 3,000 youth and young adults participated in diocesan events at St. John’s University.
- More than 800 people were recognized as catechists and catechetical leaders at the School of Evangelization’s Recognition and Commissioning Ceremony.
- Nearly 400 leaders attended the first Diocesan Catechetical Summit with Bishop DiMarzio.
- Student enrollment increased in the parish programs of religious education at more than half of the parishes in Brooklyn and Queens – some by more than 100 students.
- More than 1,000 people from more than 30 parishes participated in the Living the Eucharist Initiative for Lent of 2016 – we look forward to more parishes participating.
- Approximately 10,000 people from more than 80 parishes participated in the first season of RENEW International’s Arise/Levantate/Leve Kanpe small group faith-sharing process.
- The Special Needs Religious Education Conference, RCIA conferences, and other School of Evangelization meetings and events exceeded expectations – attendance grew for all events since the Diocesan Catechetical Summit.
- More than 6,000 adult learners, catechists, and catechetical leaders participated in some form of faith formation, using the locally offered and online Living and Leading by Faith/My Catholic Faith Delivered/Catholic Distance University courses and seminars.
The diocese has come a long way responding to this invitation to be missionary disciples. If you haven’t participated in any of the programs offered by your parish or the diocese, consider getting involved. If you are involved, bring someone else (or more than one person) with you to whatever you choose to attend. Go online to meetmein.church for lots of opportunities for you and your family.
We have great hope as we continue the work of building up the Body of Christ. Remember that, “God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us” (No. 12, “Evangelii Gaudium,” “The Joy of the Gospel”).