Evangelization & The Mission Of The Parish
Preparing the Laity for the Mission of Evangelization
Parishes are at the center of the evangelizing mission of the Archdiocese of Washington. Not only is faith shared in an through our parishes, but at the heart of parish life is the initiation, of all people who have heard the Good News, into active participation in the sacramental, charitable and social life of our parishes. The mission is accomplished through three distinct goals as outlined in the U.S. Bishops’ vision for evangelization, called Go and Make Disciples
Evangelization is most successful when it becomes more of a mindset than a program. Programs have their place, no doubt. However, each baptized person is called to share the Gospel and no program, no matter how dynamic and well run, can squeeze everyone into it. The programs offerd by the Coordinator for Evangelization are not aimed at evangelizing the world, but instead at teaching our people to evangelize the world.
To help parishes and individuals become better equipped to spread the Gospel message, the Archdiocese of Washington is implementing the USCCB evangelization strategy, “Go and Make Disciples.” This is a joint strategy between the Archdiocese and the parish. Training, guidance and speakers are provided by the Archdiocese. The most important part, dedicated Catholics, is provided by the parish. Customizing the strategy to each parish is essential since each parish is unique. One size does not fit all.
While we are a diverse Archdiocese, we all can focus together on three broad areas or goals in this strategy.
Goal One: To bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 89)
There are Catholics who, while they have not rejected Christ, certainly are not very enthusiastic about their faith. Reaching out to these Catholics and helping them to better understand their faith and live it is essential. Catholics who are enthused about their faith are more likely to provide a good witness and position themselves, and the Church, to better proclaim the Gospel.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49)
Goal 2: To invite all people in the United States, whatever their social or cultural background, to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 109)
The Church, Her liturgy and the Sacraments are all gifts. Certainly, we should want to share them! In the hustle and bustle of people’s lives there is an emptiness and hollowness that can only be filled through Jesus. Every person should be invited to salvation in Jesus and His Church. He is the head and everyone should be invited to be part of the body.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
Goal 3: To foster gospel values in our society, promoting the dignity of the human person, the importance of the family and the common good of our society, so that our nation may continue to be transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 117)
Pope John Paul II tells us that the solution to every problem in the world is Christ. We know that if all people lived Christ-like lives the problems would disappear.
Those who are living Christ-centered lives discover they can find Jesus in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, those without proper clothing, the homeless and the sick and imprisoned. As Catholics we respond to these challenges by instructing the ignorant, encouraging the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently, readily forgiving others, comforting the afflicted and praying for both the living and the dead.
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Go and Make Disciples is not a program that supercedes existing programs. Instead, it works in unison with them to help make sure that we do not lose the forest for the trees. Implementing Go and Make Disciples requires the support of key parish leaders.
The Department for Evangelization and Family Life assists parishes in developing tools and programs that foster the evangelizing mission of the parish. Resources include:
- Training workshops for parish evangelization teams
- A resource guide of successful English and Spanish programs for welcoming back Catholics
- Lectures/workshops on the implementation of Go and Make Disciples in the parish
- On-line resources related to Evangelization and training for evangelizers
For more information on beginning this process in your parish please contact us at 301-853-4546.