We evangelize in response to the call of Christ (Mt. 28: 16-20). But evangelization does not end when someone gets baptized or joins a church. Evangelization is a life-long process. Once claimed by Christ we live into the promise of Life in abundance. The love of Christ compels each of us to love others as Christ has loved us. Evangelization is a call to live the faith of our baptism, share it freely and work to fulfill God's promise for the world. This requires conversion of heart, mind and will, both inward and
outward. (GMD 23) It is ongoing because no one is fully converted and the Gospel is intended for all (Rom. 10:11-15).
In his apostolic letter, "Porta Fidei" published in 2011, the Holy Father invites all Catholics to "...set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.” This invitation echoes the evangelizing purpose and three tasks given to parishes by the Bishops of the United States.
The first of these tasks is to increase enthusiasm for the faith - The Catholic parish sees evangelization of its own people as a first priority. As even a child observed "We can't give, what we ain't got." In the Eucharist, Catholics recall how God has been present in the dying and rising of our week. At the table of the Lord, we are nourished and equipped to bear Good News to our families, our work and our community. And because no one is fully converted, each of us is called to continue in the conversion of our lives - in mind, in heart and in will.
Consider the resources and programs below to revitalize the faith of your parish congregation.
Retreats are designed for parishes that want to re-invigorate the congregation in gathered sessions. Retreats help parishioners to slow down and reflect on what matters most, connect faith in daily life or mobilize around a common purpose. Retreats can be formatted for consecutive evenings of the same week or on a consistent weekday over multiple weeks, or on Saturday and concluding with evening parish liturgy. Each session includes time for prayer, presentation, discussion, reflection and an optional witness speaker relating the topic to their personal life. Lent is a popular time for retreats. Consider the following retreat for your parish:
Lent: The Road Less Traveled
- Unless we arrive spiritually prepared, the bells of Easter joy can ring hollow. An overview
explains how participants will be encouraged by the traditional spiritual disciplines associated with Lent so that Easter is filled with joy.
Session 1 - "The Prayers that God Hears" Prayer is for all of us. This session addresses what, why, when, where and how of prayers that God hears.
Session 2 – “The Acceptable Fast” Fasting has become a necessary evil for those who lack a purpose. Learn about a fast, so pleasing, that it is worth continuing even after Easter.
Session 3 – “The Secret of a Cheerful Giver” No matter how wealthy we are, each of us has what it takes to be a cheerful giver. We only fail when forget what it means to be alms-giving.
or consider a retreat about...
The Challenge of Christian Living (for those seeking to live out faith in daily life)
- Living Faith at Work
- Living Faith in Family
- Living Faith Out in the World
Journey with Christ (for those deepening one's relationship with Christ)
- Who do you say I am?
- The Call to Discipleship
- Sharing Our Faith with Courage
Re-founding Church (for parish clusters)
- Re-founding our Faith in Christ
- Reconciling as One Body in Christ
- Pursuing the Unifying Purpose of a Catholic Parish
Retreats can also be formatted as a simple evening of reflection. The topics can include:
- Fostering Faithful Families
- Aging with Grace
- Living the Faithful Marriage
- Small Faith Communities
- Unplugging and Living Sabbath
- Praying with the Scriptures
- Building an Evangelizing Parish
- Advent: a light, a hope and a promise
For more retreat possibilities contact the Office of Parish Life. Call 716-847-5531 or email or visit us at 795 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203. Fax: 716-847-2206. Ask about customizing a program just for your parish.
Parishes can conduct their own program using print and video programs. Consider the following options:
Living Christ Retreat - a self-conducted, parish retreat with planning tools, set-up instructions, prayer services, handouts and talks on: The Journey of Faith, Dying in Christ, Healing in the Community, Living Christ (by Bill Huebsch, 2007 and available from PastoralPlanning.com). A review copy is available at the Office of Parish Life. Call 716-847-5531 or email.
Living the Eucharist Program - a comprehensive, parish-based renewal experience built around the parish Eucharist which employs small groups, a parish retreat, family events and educational materials for distribution. This program fosters appreciation for the Eucharist, highlights the Eucharist as a means of ongoing conversion, raises awareness of the life and mission that flows from and leads to the Eucharist. (by Rev. Kenneth Boyack, CSP 2011). A review copy is available from the Office of Parish Life. Call 716-847-5531 or email.
3 Days in Advent - Drawing closer to Christ during this busy season - a set of personal exercises for pastoral leaders that flows through three successive days. This brief commitment to a deeper personal intimacy in faith can fuel one's faith in preparation for a joyful and and holy Christmas (by Bill Huebsch, 2007 and available from www.PastoralPlanning.com). A review copy is available from the Office of Parish Life. Call 716-847-5531 or email.
Vatican II Resources - This set of resources offers workshop outlines, powerpoints, prayers and all leadership materials for appreciation of the Second Vatican Council. These materials are available for review by contacting the Office of Parish Life. The various items are available to parishes in the Diocese of Buffalo at a 40% discount if purchased directly from Pastoral Planning and you mention your desire for the bundle discount established for the Diocese of Buffalo.
For more evangelization programs and strategies contact:
Office of Parish Life
795 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203