Catholic Evangelization in Parish Life

Parish Vision
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"'...the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.' It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection."[1]

These words from Pope Paul VI call us to return to the very roots of our Catholic parish life. Evangelization is the basic perspective or lens through which all that we are, have, and do must be focused. It is never a question of whether or not any part of parish life should be deeply rooted in evangelization, but rather how we will cultivate our evangelizing efforts.

The key to becoming a successful evangelizing parish is to move beyond passing and temporary efforts to create a style and structure of parish that is always carrying out the work of evangelization. We believe that this call to evangelization can best be fostered through small Christian communities, and we are not alone. According to Pope John Paul II, “[Small Christian] communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love…Within them, the individual Christian experiences community and therefore senses that he or she is playing an active role and is encouraged to share in the common task. Thus, these communities become a means of evangelization and the initial proclamation of the Gospel, and a source of new ministries.”[2]

A guiding vision of the parish as an evangelizing community of small Christian communities can help achieve this. “If evangelization is indispensable to the church, then small Christian communities are indispensable to evangelization.”[3] Recall that beautiful Pentecost moment in our Church when the disciples were gathered as a small community, frightened and confused. The Holy Spirit came upon them—in power and mystery—and gave them the authority to go out into the whole world to proclaim the message of Jesus. That moment is happening again today. We are called by Jesus Christ to be transformed and changed. We, too, are called to go forth, as Christians supported and inspired by other Christians, to the whole world to proclaim the Good News that Jesus is alive; he is risen; he is here!





[1] Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii nuntiandi), 14
[2] Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer (Redemptoris missio), 51.
[3] Archbishop Dennis Hurley, “Address to the International RENEW Convocation,” 1989.
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