PASTORAL ACTIVITY AND CONVERSION
Aware that writing, books, and printed material are not as effective today as other media, Pope Francis encourages us to see the pastoral (read “parish”) as significant and having real consequences. Parishes should not be about the administration of specific programs and activities. Rather, the Christian Community needs renewal of the person and of programs to see itself as the loved bride of the Savior Who comes to unite Himself to His bride.
Find out what programs are there in your parish. Decide to investigate one where you can contribute your joy of the gospel. This means finding a way to communicate your encounter with Jesus, the JOY of the Faith.
Pope Francis tells us that “Jesus summons [us] to friendship with himself (27)”. Parish programs invite others into its community, encourage a faithful following of Jesus in joy. The Community of the parish invites all to return to the Father.
Find out about Catholics Come Home. Make an appointment with your pastor. Bring this opportunity for evangelizing those already baptized back to active practice with the parish to the attention of your pastor. Offer to lead this mission.
Each parish must call others to ongoing conversion. The community of the parish is a “people who wish to share their joy!” The kind of evangelical conversion this engenders is an outward reaching to others, both by the model of the individual’s life and example, and by the invitation to the community in which the parish lives its faith.
Suggest to the Parish Council members an advertising campaign for the beginning of Lent in the local papers. Suggest a “mission” on the part of the pastor and the deacons: a Catholic Family Reunion of dessert and coffee with a “meet the Pastor and Priests of the Parish” right at the beginning of Lent, on Sunday when penances and mortifications are not required. Have information available on the various programs in the parish for family and for children and teens. Offer to write the ad or to pay for part of it.
The most important aspect of conversion is prayer and focus of the heart on Jesus. Prayer with others, our fellow Christians and parishioners, and prayer for our bishops, priests, deacons, and religious worldwide is of great importance in the New Evangelization.
Make it your intention of prayer and try this morning prayer – write it on a post-a-note to put on the bathroom mirror to be seen each day: O my Jesus, come and live in our parish and our hearts. Help our Bishop and Priests to be Fathers to our Faith in You now and always. Amen.
Dr. Carol Younger, Senior Fellow of The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is a teacher, counselor and education administrator, who has served as an adult religious education director and catechist, as a trainer of parish ministers, and as a pilgrimage leader.
Dr. Younger is on the Academic Advisory Board for The Great Adventure Bible Studies, and has written study guides for Dr. Scott Hahn’s Bible study programs on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation and is the author of the 33 Days to Morning Glorty Retreat Companion, which is part the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.