Session 5: Reflection 1

Pastoral Planning with the heart of Discipleship and Evangelization

“Mission and Maintenance” 

“We have a tremendous opportunity with Catholics today. But first we must respond to Jesus’ invitation” – Darrin Nelson, VPLMC


“A Catholic University brought me in after reading my book Forming Intentional Discipleship: The path to knowing and following Jesus. They said, “We have a problem. We thought that if we exposed our students to thick Catholic culture – the very best of Catholic liturgies, music, art, literature, philosophy, and theology – they would naturally become disciples and behave like disciples. But it is not working. We’re realizing that we actually have to evangelize our students and explicitly call them to discipleship.”     Sherry Weddell, “Fruitful Discipleship”, pg 16

In this excerpt from her book “Fruitful Discipleship”, Catholic author and speaker Sherry Weddell speaks volumes to what is happening not only in Catholic Universities but in our general Catholic Church all across North America. Simply put, the Catholic parish structures and mentality of catechizing people into believing in God is proving to be ineffective. Each pope, since Saint Pope Paul VI, has expressed this concern in different ways. Here are two quotes for us to reflect on.

“The conditions of the society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern man.. in a way that is as understandable and persuasive as possible.” Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi 3

“In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers…a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey…we must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.”  Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 28

Our Popes and Catholic authors for years have been encouraging Catholic leadership to reflect deeply on the terms ‘maintenance’ and ‘mission’. The reason is to help us see how the over emphasis of pastoral practices and models focused on catechesis in many ways has been ineffective with leading people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Granted, they have been models that taught the faithful, but not effectively evangelized. They refer to these models as ‘maintenance’ because such models look to maintain current teaching structures that support catechizing the faithful and not necessarily evangelizing. If you remember from our first session, Sherry Weddell refer to it as ‘sacramentalized’ not ‘evangelized’.

For some, this topic can be a little challenging. Especially for those who have benefited greatly from the constant learning of their faith. It is important for those individuals to remember that we are not throwing out the baby with the bath water. We are not saying that catechesis is not important. It is very important. But we need to become more reflective on what the General Directory of Catechesis is trying to teach us by stating “only by starting with conversion, and therefore by making allowance for the interior disposition of “whoever believes,” can catechesis, strictly speaking, fulfill its proper task of education in the faith.”(pg 57). This conversion and interior change, evangelization, begins through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (Saint Pope Paul VI, EN 18)

In this conversation we will continue to simply recognizing our need to regain the call and mission Jesus Christ has for each one of us so our parish ministries have a greater sense of evangelization and lead people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The world and our Church is in great need of us recapturing our mission in Jesus Christ.

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