While the initial focus of renewal has been on structural change for many of our parishes, the ultimate aim is the renewal of each of our hearts and the spiritual renewal of our local Church. We are beginning to see the first fruits of this work, focused on discipleship and evangelization, which requires a cultural change in our parishes.
Change of any kind, let alone renewing a culture, can be difficult and it takes time, commitment and courage. But we have the assurance of knowing that a prayerful, intentional effort to draw closer to God and to one another will be the catalyst to bring others – our loved ones, friends and neighbors – to Jesus Christ and His Church.
If we want to see the church grow, we have to invite people into an encounter with Jesus so we can renew our church together. This is our call to missionary discipleship and it's on all of us. - Fr. Francis Bitterman, St. Josaphat Parish, Chicago, IL
Every parishioner who is welcoming and willing to listen to others, who is open to talk about their own journey of faith, who prays for and with others, helps to foster a culture of evangelization. As Catholics, as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, evangelizing means sharing how He is at work in our lives by both example AND by listening with and telling others. Why? Because, today, people want to hear from you about your source of joy and peace. You may not know it, but you have a story to share that can make all the difference. This takes time. This takes energy. And it takes courage. But the renewal of our Church and the faith of our loved ones depends on it.
Evangelization may be an unfamiliar term for many of us, but it is truly what God calls us to do to bring others to Him. This can mean talking about your relationship with Jesus, your reliance on the sacraments or the joy and peace you find in prayer. If that seems intimidating, think of it in terms of simply telling pieces of your own, personal faith story. Are you a “cradle Catholic?” Did someone introduce you to the Catholic faith? Do you have a favorite Catholic social media influencer, form of prayer or devotion? Those are all parts of your story and talking about the good that comes from your life of faith can open the door to bring others closer to Jesus Christ and His Church.