"What is the "NEW EVANGELIZATION?"
By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine
In recent times, a reference to the "New
Evangelization" is frequently used among the Catholic population. People are
asking about the real meaning of the "New Evangelization" and what does it call
us to?" Evangelization is not a new concept. It dates back to the first
disciples of Jesus who were sent out to share the Good News of the Gospel with
all people. It was the final mandate of Jesus to "Go tell all nations…" Like
them, each one of us is commissioned to be an evangelizer and to use the gifts
we have been given and to live and share the truths of the Gospel. We do not do
it alone. We have the gifts of the Spirit to empower and sustain us all along
In October 2011, a Congress was held at the Vatican
to look at the topic of the "New Evangelization." Participants came from around
the world and shared many ideas, hopes and dreams for a renewed commitment to
evangelization. Pope Benedict XV1 described the renewal in these words: "Christ
comes to teach us the art of living… The world today needs people who speak to
God in order to be able to speak about God. To be an evangelizer is not a
privilege. It is a task of our faith: "Lord, send me."
There will be another meeting on the new
Evangelization at the next Synod of Bishops meeting in October 2012. Fr. Bruno
Cadore, OP, Master General of the Dominican Order is one of ten elected to be
present at the Synod meeting. He will represent the broader church as well as
the Dominicans there, since we are a "Family of Preachers." They will join
together with Brothers and Sisters from around the world to explore how to
passionately preach and live the Gospel at this time in our history. Searching
for the truth and living the Gospel, especially in our compassionate response to
the needs of our time, will be considered at this Synod meeting.
Church leaders today are seeing a great loss of
members in the Catholic Church around the world. . People are moving away from
the church and from their faith or seeking new expressions of their faith. This
trend is especially noticeable among young people, and often a small number
attend church services on a weekly basis. They are still searching and hoping
for a firm spiritual base that they can relate to, as well as some meaningful
ways to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised of our time and to offer them
hope and meaning for a more humane future. Youth are also seeking meaningful
dialog about their spiritual and religious issues. Deep listening is needed to
hear their concerns and to invite their ideas on ways to enliven their faith. We
can demonstrate for them what it means to live our faith by working together for
the good of all people and sharing our compassion with those most in need.
Families and Catechists will also play an important role in the evangelization
program. Youth learn content and practice from these groups. Pope John Paul 11
in his address to the Bishops of Latin America invited all to "Look to the
future with commitment to a new evangelization, one that is new in its ardor,
new in its methods, and new in its expression." A good topic for discussion is
"What is the new thing God is doing today?" We can share out thoughts and
suggestions with church leaders and others involved in shaping the future.
What can we do individually and organizationally
to contribute to this endeavor, "The New Evangelization?"
- Each one of us can deepen our faith through
study, discussion, prayer and reflecting on the Word of God. We need to let
the Word get inside of us, transform our lives, and lead us to live what we
believe. Jesus assures us that he is "the way, the truth and the life." Stop
and examine how we live the Gospel and preach it by the witness of our
lives. Is there a way we can share the Good News with those disconnected
from the church or from their own spiritual gifts?
- Listen deeply to the hopes and dreams of
people of all ages, in order to have a better understanding of ways to
respond to their needs. Pay special attention to the hopes and dreams of the
younger generation and give serious consideration to their ideas for
deepening and living our faith.
- Encourage parishes and Diocesan groups to meet
and share ideas on revitalizing their membership. Help them to examine their
present ministries and look at better practices. Name what the people are
hoping for, especially the younger members and name the blocks and barriers
to meaningful spirituality and faith-filled living and the practice of their
beliefs. Where do people need encouragement and motivation? How will we
- Read and study some of the resources provided.
One good resource is an article on "The New Evangelization" in Origins, CNS
Documentary Service, Washington DC. 20017, March 1, 2012 issue, Volume
41.Number 38. Go to
- Encourage good preaching in parish churches
and provide training and evaluation of homilies as needed.
- Look at ways to provide and nurture good
leadership in parishes. There is a great shortage of priests and this
creates opportunities for others to share their gifts. Look at the roles of
deacons, women and youth. How will we empower them and open doors for them
to be leaders? Encourage church leadership to address these issues. We also
need to restore people’s faith in church leadership tarnished by stories of
abuse and other issues.
- All of us need to stop and examine how we live
the Gospel and preach it by the witness of our lives. How do we share the
Gospel message with people who are now disconnected from the church and
faith issues? Some parishes are inviting speakers to address the issue and
its implications in their lives.
As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of
Vatican 11, beginning in 2012, may we begin to rekindle the fervor of the
promise offered by the Council for a church that would promote more lay
participation, leadership, social action and a commitment to the common good.
May we move forward together with courage, conviction and hope.