Five Years After the Synod on the New Evangelization

The 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization led by Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the call for all of today’s Catholics to continue the work of the first disciples in bringing the Gospel to the world by sharing our faith with others with renewed conviction, determination and enthusiasm.

That mission could be seen in two historic events that unfolded in our local Church in the five years since that Synod in Rome: our first Archdiocesan Synod in 2014, which charted a blueprint for how we can build the best Church we can be, and the 2015 visit of Pope Francis, who demonstrated the New Evangelization in action.  The Holy Father said we are called to be missionary disciples, bringing Jesus’ love and truth to those who have drifted from the Church, to those who have not experienced the Good News of Christ, and to those on the margins.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, that apostolic work is carried out every day in our Catholic schools and religious education programs, and also in our outreach efforts like Catholic Charities, Victory Housing and the Spanish Catholic Center.  It takes place in our programs to strengthen family life, feed the hungry, help those being released from jail to build a new life, and to welcome and include persons with disabilities.  Likewise, our efforts in the New Evangelization can be seen through the Light the City street evangelization, at Theology on Tap talks, in regional parish efforts like the East of the River revival, and in service days.  The mission shines through as well in the archdiocese’s The Light is On for You program promoting Confession during Lent, and the Find the Perfect Gift program inviting people to come home to the Church during the Christmas season and beyond. The archdiocese shares this message through e-letters, blogs, social media, YouTube videos, radio and TV spots, ads on Metro buses and trains, and through its website and print publications.

The urgency of this task was articulated by the Holy Father at his 2015 Canonization Mass for Saint Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “Siempre adelante,” he said echoing the motto of that 18th century Spanish Franciscan missionary.  Saint Junípero “kept moving forward because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting,” continued Pope Francis, and so we too need to “keep moving forward.”

Ultimately, the New Evangelization is not about new programs, but is about transforming people’s hearts and lives with the love and truth of Jesus who liberates, heals and renews.  Then, like leaven in the world they too can be witnesses of Jesus in their homes, schools, workplaces, communities, nation and world. Five years after the Synod on the New Evangelization, the new Pentecost continues.

This is the third in a six-part series on the New Evangelization.