Sometimes ya just gotta rely on the ol' Anglo-Saxon for things to make sense for ya.
This is a recent bulletin article that appeared in a slightly different form.  

When many Catholics hear the word “Evangelize” in English, they think of the time someone approached them and asked, “Have you been saved,” or, “Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?”  Others might know that Evangelization is an important part of the work of the Catholic Church, but that it’s mostly the work of the priests.  For many Catholics, the word “Evangelization” just makes their eyes glaze over. 

Sometimes it helps to translate a word with Latin or Greek origin into good old Anglo-Saxon.  “Evangelization” comes from a Greek word meaning “Good News.”  If you wanted to translate it into Anglo-Saxon-style English, it would come out something like “Gospelizing.”  But that sounds like such an odd word.  “Giving the Gospel to others,” or even better, “Giving the Good News to others” is probably a good definition.   When someone accepts the Good New we give them, it changes them.  It transforms them. 

Evangelization is one of the main responsibilities of a pastor.  I have to make sure that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is faithfully proclaimed and explained in my own homilies and in those of Father Jorge and Father Jim.  I have to see that it is being proclaimed and taught in our parish school and in our religious education program.  I have to see that the Gospel is proclaimed for adults through RCIA and programs like Renew.  Many, many people are actively evangelizing others in this parish, including and very importantly the parents who teach their little ones how to pray, tell them stories about Jesus, Mary and the saints, and most importantly bring them to Mass on weekends. 

Evangelization is a life-long process.  The more we open our hearts to the Gospel, the more it transforms us.  As an adult, as a priest and as pastor, I have a responsibility to make sure that I receive evangelization.  That’s why I make a yearly retreat, make sure I spend time with Holy Scripture and other spiritual reading.  I am evangelized by the friars I live with and by my spiritual director.  I am evangelized by you, the parishioners, who also give me the Gospel, the Good News.   All of us, as baptized Christians, have the duty to evangelize, to give the Good News to each other. 

I have been your pastor for only 2 months now.  As I told you in my first homily, during my first few months, “I intend to observe, participate, ask a lot of questions and strive to understand the way things work in the parish.”  That is still where I am and will be for quite a while.  One thing that is becoming clearer to me is that we as a parish community and I as pastor need to re-evangelize our brother and sister Catholics who no longer worship with us.  From 2004 to 2008, Mass attendance in the churches of Staten Island has decreased 17.2%.  That’s close to 1 out of 5 of our brothers and sisters who seem to have chosen not to position themselves where they can receive the Gospel message.  In love and compassion we need to figure out how to reach out to them.  Praying for them is extremely important, but we also need to consider concrete steps to win them back. 

Father Liam 

1 comment:

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