The New Evangelization is something all Catholic communicators will want to learn more about and ponder more deeply. It was my pleasure to attend a Men’s Prayer Breakfast at South Bend’s Little Flower Parish this weekend, where Bishop Kevin Rhoades talked about the New Evangelization as a top priority in his leadership of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. His remarks helped to crystallize the New Evangelization in my mind.
Evangelization, in its basics, is nothing new, Bishop Rhoades clarified: The Church is called to evangelize, to spread the Good News. But the New Evangelization, an idea promoted by Pope John Paul II, “is directed principally to those who are baptized but have drifted away.” This evangelization, as described by Blessed JP2, must be “new in ardor, new in methods, and new in expressions.” Intensifying under the papacy of Benedict XVI, the New Evangelization is a multi-faceted outreach to an increasingly secular society where, even among many Catholics, the sense of mystery and the transcendent — indeed, the awareness of God – are in danger of being lost. The New Evangelization, Bishop Rhoades pointed out, must begin with us as people engaged in vibrant prayer, nurtured by the sacraments, and immersed in a pursuit of holiness.
As a communicator for the Alliance for Catholic Education here at Notre Dame, I was gratified to hear the Bishop say there are a number of encouraging signs that can help propel the New Evangelization forward, including a stronger Catholic identity emerging in many Catholic schools. I know the building up of schools’ Catholic culture is a priority for ACE. Spiritual growth among Catholic educators is a pillar of ACE’s formation of teachers and principals. ACE chaplain Father Joe Carey, CSC, is writing a series for our website to help teachers grasp lessons from the Church’s Year of Faith. The Notre Dame ACE Academies schools in Tucson and Tampa-St. Pete remind their students every day that their top two goals are “college and heaven.”
The word “heaven,” as a reminder that we are destined for eternity, adds a touch of ultimate meaning, purpose, and urgency to our pursuit of holiness and thus kicks the New Evangelization into a higher gear.
I have come away from the Prayer Breakfast with a clearer understanding of, and a more zealous approach toward, the New Evangelization. It’s something we all have to take personally as part of our daily lives as Catholics. I’ll be looking for more ways to stay informed about the New Evangelization. Please send me your ideas!
For now, as regards the New Evangelization in Catholic schools, I can point toward a Jan. 29. 2013, statement (for Catholic Schools Week) by Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, chair of the Committee on Catholic Education for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The “Whispers in the Loggia” blog offers insights into the New Evangelization and many other Church endeavors. And Notre Dame’s own Institute for Church Life publishes an online journal about the New Evangelization.