Last Sunday I presented to you our Prep program. Today, I want to evoke more generally our ministry of evangelization, of which Prep is but a part. Since the pontificate of John Paul II, we have spoken incessantly of evangelization in the Church. Why? Because there is a strong sense that we are living in an age that is crying out for a new evangelization, in a world that is less and less Christian, and in which we must propose the gospel with renewed vigor. In this regard, how are we making out at St. Mary’s Parish?
The easiest way for me to present what we are doing in terms of evangelization is to consider the days of the week, one by one, and point out what happens on each day.
On Sundays, at the 9:30 and 11:15 masses, we take the children aside to share the day’s gospel with them in a language that is suited to their age. That’s evangelization.
On Tuesday nights, Mission Ablaze gathers for prayer. This is a very open prayer group. Every week, new faces appear. As a newcomer, I see clearly in the joy of the group, in their demeanor, that they know something that I don’t know – something good. They make me want to stay, in the hope that I will discover the gospel that gives them such joy. That’s evangelization.
On a Tuesday night, once a month, Fr. Gabriel meets the parents who have asked to have their babies baptized. It is a modest, but nonetheless golden opportunity for evangelization.
Again on Tuesday nights but also on Wednesday nights and on Sundays, we gather hundreds of children and a few teenagers in our Prep program, of which I spoke last Sunday. That is clearly evangelization.
On Wednesday nights, we have Bible Study. Clearly, the people in attendance are already evangelized. But we are never completely evangelized. Christian life is a process of continual conversion and growth. If, in my participation in a Bible Study group, scales fall from my eyes, and I discover a Biblical text that I already knew, as if it were for the first time, that’s evangelization.
On Thursday nights, RCIA gathers together people who by the grace of God have been drawn to our light, and who wish to become Christian. RCIA also attracts people who are Christian, but wish to become Catholic Christians, people who are Catholic but who have distanced themselves from the Church, and who wish to return, people who are Catholic but have never been confirmed… RCIA is truly evangelization in an obvious way.
On Saturday nights, Couples for Christ offer a Christian Life Program, a year-long sharing on the gospel and everything that follows from it, for the benefit of people who are searching for more substance, more light, more direction in their lives than they now have.
I’m not sure of the day, but I know that one or two nights per week, our Street Ministry people are on the street at night, bringing nuggets of gospel to prostitutes, people afflicted with addictions, or simply homeless people, by their Christian presence and their kindness. This is evangelization.
Monday to Friday, St. Mary’s Elementary School proposes the gospel to the children who spend their days within its walls.
There you have it – a week in the life of St. Mary’s Parish, an evocation of the various expressions of our ministry of evangelization. I’m sure I’ve omitted a few, but I’ve run out of space, and I think that the above-mentioned instances of evangelization are sufficient to be able to assert that we are doing fairly well at St. Mary’s, in terms of evangelization. Let us humbly give thanks for it, and pray that we will always be an evangelizing parish, a Christian community that unceasingly proposes the gospel.