Evangelisation is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many Catholics, and this is something I can understand. How many of us could stand on a street corner in a city centre and talk about faith to passers-by, quote the Bible or engage with those who might object to having their lunch break disrupted? Yet, this is not something that most of us are called to do – I certainly am not! – but it’s the one example of evangelisation that people often think of.
As I’ve begun visiting various parts of the diocese, I have discovered many other examples of outreach that go unnoticed, but that are just as significant.
For example, in Tamworth, I visited a ‘Friday Soup’, which is a way of helping people to keep the Lenten fast and to which parishioners can invite their friends. In Woodstock I took part in their midday prayer (Liturgy of the Hours), which a number of parishioners organise and attend, witnessing to the praying church throughout the day and throughout the world. In Goring-on-Thames I was invited to a ‘station mass’ happening on Wednesdays throughout Lent hosted at various people’s houses, as a way of marking the penitential season in different parts of the parish. Some of the parishes I’m working in, such as Our Lady of Grace in northwest Staffs, will be taking part in a Lent project where each parishioner prays for one other person and then invites them to a Holy Week or Easter liturgy. Solihull parish church runs faith groups to which anyone is invited to listen to a presentation on some aspect of the faith and to discuss it over refreshments.
These examples, and many others, are happening each week and provide parishioners with great opportunities to evangelise. Indeed, the Holy Mass itself is a wonderful place to bring those who are asking questions about the faith.
I read some research recently that points to the fact that nearly 90% of Christians, when asked to say why they became believers, reported that it was because someone invited them to Church and took time to support them in their faith. All of the initiatives that we run in our parishes are only effective at reaching others if they are giving us the opportunity actually to make those invitations. Pope Francis encourages us in this direction by speaking of putting ‘all things in a missionary key’ (EG 34) so that whether a parish is praying the Rosary, visiting the sick, serving the community, eating or socialising together, Christ is placed front and centre and people are invited to discover and respond to Him.
Christ’s disciples brought people to Jesus with the simple phrase, ‘come and see’ (John 1:46). You are also called to be a disciple. To whom will you extend an invitation to come and see?
If you would like to join us in thinking about, and praying for, evangelisation across our Archdiocese then please contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or Natalie at email@example.com