One of the pastoral recommendations provided during the 2012–2013 Year of Faith jumped off the page for me:
The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today—capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the “door of faith.” (from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)
That is evangelization!
The key word in the above statement for me was joy-filled. I took a good look at what I had done to evangelize the catechists of our program. Was I in the gray area of just assisting them in teaching, supplying the tools needed for sessions, and answering concerns when asked? Or was I uncovering the faith needs of these wonderful volunteers? Have I been joyfully presenting my own faith? Have I made an effort to help the catechists develop their own faith? Have I helped them to joyfully proclaim God’s Salvation, not just to the children they are catechizing, but also to the parents with whom they mingle in their communities?
The pastor and I had a vision when we both began at St. Joseph—to evangelize. Our goal was to bring to the faithful an awareness of their baptismal promises. I had the task of doing that through the faith formation program. From the books chosen to the setup of each area where sessions take place, I create an atmosphere of welcoming and spiritual excitement. Faith sharing, not just religious learning, is the key. Everyone has a chance to share who and where they are on their journey of faith.
Gradually there arose a wonderful joy from the children, catechists and, yes, even some of the parents who would normally just drop off a child anonymously. None of this happens without commitment and compassion, challenges and tough choices, concern and celebration, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit.
In guiding the catechists towards becoming growers in the faith, I am aware that I, too, must continue to grow and excite them into joyfully proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. In humility, I hope that my own faith happiness shines through.
What are you doing in your parish to joyfully proclaim the Gospel?
Margie, having experienced your joyful hospitality many times over the years, I can vouch for your authenticity – you walk the talk! Your enthusiasm has always been contagious and that’s the essence of evangelization!