The Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) set forth a tremendous shift in the life of the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequent Popes and bishops around the world have worked hard to maintain the direction that Vatican II had set forth. The direction that Vatican II can be discerned from the following documents / letters:
- In his Apostolic Exhortation On Evangelization in the Modern World (1975), Pope Paul VI made the following bold statement: “… we wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church …”
- In November, 1992 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) promulgated a document entitled:Go Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States
- In May, 2008 Bishop Lennon sent a letter to every parish in the Diocese regarding the clustering process. In this letter the bishop states most clearly: “I want to first emphasize that the foundation for the work of all clusters is the Church’s essential mission of evangelization and re-evangelization.”
Clearly, the shift in the life of the Church after Vatican II is centered around evangelization. Since there can be only one essential mission of the Church, it is vital for Catholics to have a good understanding of the meaning of “evangelization” and “re-evangelization.”
Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend the Church’s understanding of “evangelization” is if we use the concepts “old evangelization” and “new evangelization.” Just as we have the “Old Testament” readings and the “New Testament” readings in our Eucharistic liturgies, both the “Old Evangelization” and the “New Evangelization” play a vital role in the essential mission of the Church.
Most of us are comfortable with the concept of the “Old Evangelization.” Traditionally, this is the work of making converts of those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. The purpose of the “Old Evangelization” is to baptize the non-Christian and the non-believer, or to convert the non-Catholic. Potential converts are taught about Jesus Christ, they are instructed in the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. Once the convert is baptized (or received into the Church), the work of the “Old Evangelization” is done. The primary place of the “Old Evangelization” efforts is found in our RCIA and remains a significant activity of the Church.
The “New Evangelization” (or “re-evangelization”) is directed at baptized Catholics, including those who attend church regularly, as well as, the marginal and fallen away Catholics. Pope John Paul II said: “ The New Evangelization is not a matter of merely passing on doctrine, but rather, it is about a personal and profound meeting with the Savior.” Where we encounter Christ in personal and profound way is through the sacraments of the Church.
The purpose of the New Evangelization is to challenge, through the power of the Gospel, those: values, judgments, patterns of behavior, and models of life which are inconsistent with word of God. The catechesis of the New Evangelization: begins with us – we need to know our faith to pass it on to the next generation.
As a newly formed parish, the Pastoral Council members of Blessed Trinity Parish have taken to heart Bishop Lennon’s call for “evangelizing” and “re-evangelizing.” Using the USCCB’s document for evangelization as a model, the following 2-year plan had been made and is currently in the process of implementation:
2 year plan for July 1st, 2010 to June 30, 2012
|Goal I. 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.||Goal II. To invite all people in the United States, whatever their social or cultural background, to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so that they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith.||Goal III. To foster Gospel Values in our society, promoting the dignity of human person, the importance of family, and the common good of our society, so that our nation may continue to be transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ.|