By Carole Brown
Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship
The weekend after the euphoria-producing beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother at the Cox Convention Center, several parishes hosted more than 4,000 guests for an evening with evangelist Matthew Kelly. His presentation was entitled “Passion and Purpose.”
A few days before Matthew Kelly spoke, it occurred to me that one possible outcome of such an event might be that some people would be interested in getting to know Jesus better. Since that is what we as a Church exist to do, I thought it might be a good idea to make a list of parishes in the archdiocese that have been working on that, to include in the gift bags that were given to those who attended.
I asked myself – suppose a dozen or so people were to come through the door of a given parish and say simply, “I’ve been Catholic my whole life, but I don’t know Jesus very well at all. Is there a way for me to get to know Jesus in this parish?”
Let yourself imagine your way into that question in your own parish. Does your parish have any kind of strategy that anyone knows about for helping people to come to know Jesus? Is there a process that a person can jump into within a few weeks? Or do they have to wait until the next school year begins?
Likely, we are somewhat prepared for new inquirers to find a seat in RCIA. But, what about adults who already have been fully sacramentally initiated – perhaps even attend Mass regularly – who want to know Jesus?
This is an important question to answer – I daresay, perhaps the most important question for parish leadership teams, pastoral councils and parish councils.
First, it’s what we exist for. Saint John Paul II said, “The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life” (Redeemer of Man, 13).
Secondly, the failure to provide processes like this is the most common reason people walk away from Catholicism to join an evangelical church. (Did you know that upwards of 60 percent of people who attend evangelical churches are former Catholics?)
As I prepared my list, I found that there are certainly more parishes than there would have been four years ago that could handle a dozen or more people showing up and asking about how to know Jesus. But, I cannot help but wish there were more.
This month marks four years since Archbishop Coakley called us to develop a culture of intentional discipleship in our parishes in his pastoral letter “Go Make Disciples.” It also marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Catholic bishop’s document “Go and Make Disciples.”
If you are ready to make the Church’s main mission a priority in your parish, we are ready to help you.
Want to know more?