At the heart of the “new evangelization” is the call of three consecutive popes to re-proclaim the good news of salvation to a post-Vatican II generation that has little or no relationship with Jesus Christ. In the U.S., only 15 percent of Catholics attend Mass weekly and fully 60% attend Mass rarely or never.
But there is hope. We haven’t lost them completely. And there’s a way to reach out to them. Regardless of any personal practice of the faith, the vast majority of this generation brings their children to religious education weekly or enrolls them in a Catholic school. It is very important for their children to receive First Communion and Confirmation.
Evangelize All Ministries assists parishes to integrate a simple, effective tool for (re)evangelizing parents of Sacramental candidates. The God Is! Day of Renewal answers the call of the new evangelization to joyfully, passionately, personally, authentically and effectively proclaim the basic message of the Gospel (the kerygma), to facilitate a personal encounter with our Risen Lord and to invite people (back) into a love affair with Christ. This is accomplished through short talks, personal testimony, small group discussions, a couple of “entertaining” pieces and sacramental renewal.
In just over a year, over 2000 individuals have experienced God Is!. Following the renewal day, participants received inspiring and supportive follow-up CDs from Lighthouse Catholic Media and were invited to join small faith-sharing groups. Nearly 100% of those in attendance have availed themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, many who shared that they had not received this Sacrament in 10, 20 or even 30 years. (Many priests too remarked that it has been one of the most powerful Reconciliation experiences of their priesthood.) Attendees have been effusive in their praise for God Is!, including non-Catholic retreatants and those who initially attended out of a sense of obligation.
Talk about a win-win situation! Participants experience an enjoyable, healing, moving day offering the opportunity for real conversion. Parishioners are afforded a chance to give a talk or testimony, facilitate a small discussion group or help with hospitality on a small scale as this experience is a one-day commitment. Parish staff and catechists can more effectively reach students as parents’ hearts are opened and the faith is embraced at home. Priests see true spiritual growth in the parish as parishioners are (re)evangelized and go on to evangelize others. And, as promised, God wins in the end with hearts being set on fire for Him.