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What is evangelization? Catholics in the pews share their perspectives of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others

As the local Church continues forward with All Things New, several Catholics share what evangelization means to them

DEE DONART

Dee Donart
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Dee is a parishioner at St. David in Arnold. She serves as an eighth-grade confirmation catechist, Parish Council member, money counter, greeter and member of the Activity Committee and the All Things New leadership team. She is part of the archdiocesan Parish Stewardship Education Council.

What does evangelization mean to you?

When we act upon the words of Christ, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” we spread the Good News of His everlasting kingdom. There are people we share the pew with on Sundays who believe they are doing the right thing, but lack a direct relationship with Jesus. Knowing Him, we can bring a smile to someone at Friendship Sunday or joy to a family asked to bring up the Communion gifts. We need affirmation from one another as we walk together in Catholic faith. Like the beginnings of the Church, Paul relied on good folks such as Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquila, Barabas, Silas, Lydia and many others.

How do you see evangelization lived out in your faith community?

Our St. Vincent de Paul Society is made up of committed, God-loving parishioners who encourage openness to those they serve for the possible realization of encountering God’s love. St. David is in the center of an Arnold neighborhood. The Fall Festival invites all to engage with our community. The parish activities committee has invited the gathering community to pastoral celebrations, Holy Saturday socials, trivia and Mardi Gras nights. Vacation Bible School is well-attended and supported. The Christmas novena, adoration and prayer group are dear to the prayerful loyal. “Formed,” Bible study and periodical faith opportunities such as Lenten Study are afforded to us by faithful facilitators.

What is the greatest hope for the future of the Archdiocese of St. Louis?

The family, the single and the lonely are able to utilize parish life to fulfill those needs through the love of Christ. The Church body will be stronger and progress into the future with more voices. With more participants in ministries, they will flourish and enhance the purpose of community. Diversity in the Church will be accommodating to the young and celebrate the mature working in unison. The ultimate goal is to be one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.

JON NIENAS
Jon Nienas
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Jon is a parishioner at Holy Infant in Ballwin. He is involved in adult faith formation, stewardship, Equip evangelization groups, the 99, the men’s group and men’s Bible study, Knights of Columbus, food pantry, Kairos prison ministry initiative and All Things New leadership team.

What does evangelization mean to you?

Be ready to tell your story. Your story is powerful. Your story can be how you found Jesus Christ or what you love about the Catholic Church. Tell people about the beauty, joy, peace and love you feel from living a Christ-like life. Look for opportunities that God places in front of you to tell your story! Your words can help save souls!

How do you see evangelization lived out in your faith community?

Most of the time I see it played out through our actions. People get involved with ministries that reach out to the community. Food pantries, St. Vincent de Paul, Knights of Columbus, homeless shelter support and pro-life activities are examples of serving and showing the love of Christ to others. Evangelization groups have formed to teach parishioners how to bring the Good News to friends, family and anyone else. These types of faith groups help to build each other up and prepare us for Catholic evangelization.; they are critical in building Jesus’ Church and giving the gift of joy and peace to all around us. Ultimately, putting actions and words together make for the most powerful evangelization.

What is your greatest hope for the future of the Archdiocese of St. Louis?

Parishioners are excited to be Catholic and want to tell about it. We need a coordinated effort within the archdiocese to help Catholics learn about their faith and inspire them to make their parishes more vibrant. Create opportunities that set their hearts on fire for Jesus Christ. We should welcome anyone to our parish and help them discover or grow their Catholicism. For example, the offices at the archdiocese for Stewardship, Evangelization, and Faith Formation can lead the way for the local parishes to excel in these areas. Resources at the local parishes can coordinate with resources at the archdiocese to build powerful initiatives to actually grow the Catholic Church.

CHERYL ARCHIBALD
Cherly Archibald
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Cheryl serves as a full-time parish life coordinator at St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in St. Louis. She also is vice president of the board of directors for St. Francis Community Services, co-chair of the Racial and Cultural Justice Ministry with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and co-chair of The Ville Collaborative.

What does evangelization mean to you?

For me, evangelization means transformation — my life has been transformed by simply sharing the love and peace of Jesus with others. The manifestation of sharing my faith with others in various forms has in turn allowed me to transform into a deeper level of love.

How do you see evangelization lived out in your faith community?

My faith community, being in one of the poorest areas in St. Louis, provides the greatest opportunity for this transformation to take place. We encounter people with many needs, some of which we cannot solve, but there is no reason we cannot share the love of Jesus with each person we encounter. When people ring our bell, we work hard to be present, compassionate and respectful. Our call to Christ asks us to lend support and to be a resource for which they may be seeking.

What is your greatest hope for the future of the Archdiocese of St. Louis?

My greatest hope for the future of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is that the archdiocesan community becomes known primarily for living out the Gospel of Jesus and we allow that example to transform us and our culture. My hope is that our daily lives and our faith are interactive, interrelated and interdependent and we share that faith with all people.

BECKY WHITAKER
Becky Whitaker
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Becky is a youth minister at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon. She sings with the Assumption Life Teen Collective Band, is involved with the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry’s Wellspring Formation Process for Youth Leaders, writes for Life Teen International and serves with the Assumption Parish Leadership Team.

What does evangelization mean to you?

Evangelization is joining in on the conversation the Holy Spirit is already having with someone. It’s like collaborating with the Lord and meeting people where they are. He’s already doing the work and we are not alone. The more I work for the Church and encounter the people of God — teens, parents, core members, prisoners, people at the airport or the next booth at a restaurant — the more I notice how much pain and discouragement people are walking around with. A smile and sharing the notion that God desires our best good can be the best entries to sharing the joy of the Gospel.

We have been given an incredible task to share the best news — the love of Jesus Christ for us, present in the sacraments — with everyone. As a Church, there needs to be intentionality around everything we do to serve the people of God: liturgies celebrated beautifully, communities formed with purpose, radical hospitality in every ministry and mirroring God’s love for us.

How do you see evangelization lived out in your faith community?

I see evangelization lived out in my faith community, particularly through our teens. They step up beautifully at our teen Mass, boldly proclaiming the word of God, and serve as ushers, altar servers, sacristan assistants and greeters. Our teens bravely share the stories of what God has done in their lives and notice friends who are downtrodden and invite them into our Life Teen community.

What is your greatest hope for the future of the Archdiocese of St. Louis?

My greatest hope is a Church that is awake with the love of God and open to the working of the Holy Spirit. My hope is that in 50 years, you can walk into any of our parishes for a Mass and see the people of God filling the pews, celebrating the goodness of our God.

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What is evangelization Catholics in the pews share their perspectives of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others 8269

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