Creating Vibrant, Evangelizing Parishes Thursday, June 27, 2013 Frs. Frank DeSiano, CSP and Kenneth Boyack, CSP
Responses to unanswered questions
Question: Brett Kell from Milwaukee asks: Is there a way for parish communications (bulletins, directories, posters, flyers, website, etc.) to reconnect people to their parish or each other, or to make their interactions more meaningful? Answer: I think this is something to explore. Parish bulletins have only limited valence, but communications, particularly e‐mail and texts, seem to be ways people connect today. Question: Brook Heide from United States asks: How do you start the small groups? Who are able to lead them and what training should they have? Answer: I think you will find a lot about this in the Manual for Living the Eucharist and a spate of books on Small Groups that have been published. Basically one needs a group of facilitators‐leaders who have a good sense of helping people share, then some good content for discussion, and then a system to recruit participants. Question: Brook Heide from United States asks: With these small groups should the children be present or not as the Lectio Divino would be hard for children to stay focused on. Answer: In today's world, how and where children are present should be carefully considered. Parents must always be around their children. They undoubtedly would not easily be part of an adult small group, but perhaps some dynamics can be adapted for groups of children for their own sharing. It would look very different from the adult group, to be sure. The Family Activity material of Living the Eucharist will give you ideas about this. Question: Charlie Kelley from New Jersey asks:When studying scripture and sharing God's word, is it appropriate to use the messages and relate these messages to current events? Answer: I find it's important, when dealing with Scripture, to ask: 1) what is the passage saying in itself (historically); what is it saying to me, personally; what is it saying to us as a parish and church; and what is it saying to the world. So one as one has set the proper tone of sharing and trust, then people can speak and relate the scriptures as the Spirit leads them. Question: Christine Laing from Detroit asks: Do you think the lack of family mealtime has anything to do with not knowing how important the Eucharist is? Answer: The lack of family meal, and family sharing, is a huge loss in modern life, in terms of the Eucharist‐‐and everything else too. Question: Craig Gould from Catholic Theological Union asks: "Rebuilt" talks a lot about confronting a spirituality of consumerism. How do we address that problem? Answer: "Consumerism" is used in a variety of ways in Rebuilt; on the one hand, the authors confront as sense of entitled consumerism on the part of many Catholics; on the other hand, the authors know they are trying to attract consumers in modern society. I once heard it put this way: how do we convert consumers to disciples? Question: Dcn. Tim O asks: Can you provide examples of "Extending insights of the Eucharist into the family's daily life"? 1
Responses to unanswered questions Answer: This would be a whole book in itself. Order a copy of "Exodus to Easter" and it will give daily examples of how to do this. www.livingtheeucharist.org. Question: Deacon David Papuga from Moorestown, NJ asks: What about meeting one‐on‐one with a certified spiritual director? I believe that this would be a very valuable resource for people to take advantage of. How would one present this ministry to people where they would want to participate in it? Answer: People need direction and guidance today. Often they don't know it. My only comment on our excellent observation is: where do we find sufficient numbers of qualified directors? Question: Deacon Gerry Scilla from Essex Junction, VT asks: What do you feel makes liturgies effective. Answer: Liturgies are effective when they lead people to conversion because people have come together as a community of believers, to experience union with God that leads to praise, to participate fully and attentively in the liturgical process, to experience the dynamism of the Word calling people to change, to express recommitment through the various elements of the Mass, and to leave the church as more fully committed Catholics bringing Christ in service to the world. Just for a starter.... :) Question: Edward Kolla from Vineland, NJ asks: What type of training is necessary to be a group leader of the program and what materials are required to implement it? Answer: The manual for Living the Eucharist goes into training in detail; group leaders have their own guidebook to help them prepare for, and lead, the session. Some people can never be leaders, no matter how much training they get because they think it's about them, rather than about the group. Question: Fr. Jim Stachacz from Hicksville, NY asks: What are some good resources for Lectio Divina? How do you enable people other than staff to be involved in small groups? Answer: You will get a lot of leads for this just by going to Google! Living the Eucharist also has a DVD video presentation on lectio divina. The video is also on the website http://www.livingtheeucharist.org/learn‐about‐lectio‐divina. So there are many resources. Leaders can be found among your more active and committed Catholics. Often they just need to be asked. Note my response above on leaders. Question: Fr. Paul A. Cannariato from St. Mary Church, asks: When we speak about connection to the younger generations what is the most effective means and way to reach out and begin? Answer: This, again, would be another whole book. Why not go to "Busted Halo" and look at their "Young Adult Ministry in a Box," for ideas about approaching Young Adult ministry and organizing this cohort for sharing and discipleship. I think we need to attend to the very different world of young adults and youth, and get THEM involved in the outreach right off the bat. Question: George Palma from United States asks: I belong to a parish that is mostly elderly and a very few young families. How can a vibrant evangelizing parish be implemented? Answer: Elderly people are sometimes the most accessible because they believe and they have time‐‐ and they want a future for their church. The hardest thing is for this generation to realize that other generations operate very differently. They keep thinking: bring them to us. Younger generations think: is this only a church for the elderly? The dynamic has to be your elderly parishioners making space for younger folks to gather on their own terms, with their own dynamics, but supporting them and building bridges to them. Question: Helen Bailey from Brick, NJ asks: Can you show the slide with the per parish numbers from CARA again? Answer: You can view them in the slide handouts here http://www.livingtheeucharist.org/wp‐ content/uploads/2013/06/YOF07RENEWAL0613‐Handout.pdf Question: John Maine from Miami asks: I am Catholic already. What is this conversion, much less a "sustained conversion" you speak of? Answer: John, we have an ongoing need for re‐conversion and deeper commitment to discipleship. We are never completely following the Lord. Conversion is to deeper discipleship. Year of Faith Webinar: Creating Vibrant, Evangelizing Parishes 2
Responses to unanswered questions Question: Jonathan F. Sullivan from Springfield, IL asks: Do you put participants in groups by age, relationship to the Church, etc.? Answer: Parishes may vary with this depending on how they wish to set up the groups. We certainly have the teens as a separate group. But if I were trying to reach Young Adults, or Young Marrieds, I'd have that as an option for small groups. Question: Joseph Murphy from Buffalo, NY asks: Recognizing Jesus Uniquely Present in The Eucharist, through Adoration outside of Mass (as emphasis on the reality), with the pastor leading periodic Holy Hours, ‐‐might this be the ideal small group focal point for all the small groups that vivifies the parish? Answer: Adoration has much to offer every cohort in the church's demographics. I would not make it a "sine qua non," but I'd certainly invite people to Adoration. Question: Julia Torres from Honolulu asks: Could you please identify examples of small‐group processes? Are these groups like Cursillo, Basic Christian Communities, etc.? Answer: The small groups in Living the Eucharist share on a theme and then pray lectio divina. There are many kinds of small groups, some study, some sharing, some seasonal, some year‐round. So it's hard to generalize. Living the Eucharist does small groups for the 6 weeks of Lent. Often groups want to continue meeting and grow into other expressions. Question: Julia Torres from Honolulu asks: The Supreme Court struck down DOMA. How did the Synod address families whose parents are of the same sex? I'm just thinking of the upcoming catechetical year with the possibility of having children in First Communion Classes whose parent figures are of the same sex. Answer: The Synod was not naïve about the situation of families today. I would talk in the parish staff about a pastoral approach to the situations you might be facing. It is one thing to stand up for a principle, but another thing to look like one is excluding children from the Eucharist. I think the Holy Father's pastoral openness is very instructive here. Question: Karen Lewicki from St. Dominic Church asks: In the Family Booklet, some adults told me the information was geared more to a family with younger children and not one with teens. Is there going to be any change in the booklet this year or what could a family do to make this more meaningful to teens? Answer: I think we are keeping the same Family process, because we already have a teen component in Living the Eucharist. However, parishes can always adapt as needed. Question: Kathy Anez from St. Francis of Assisi Apopka asks: Do you have recommendations for evangelizing within multicultural parishes in ways that unify the various groups? Answer: This could be another book! There are so many factors in your question that it would be impossible to answer even in a summary fashion. Maybe we can do a webinar on this! Question: Kathy Klich from Our Lady of the Rosary asks: Our parish already has long term small church communities that meet year round ‐ how do you interrupt what scc's are already doing in catechesis in order to do Living the Eucharist during Lent? Answer: I would not necessarily "interrupt" these groups; I'd offer them the content of Living the Eucharist. And I'd particularly use Living the Eucharist to form OTHER small groups in the parish. Question: Linda Crepeau from Cambridge, New York asks: Our Evangelization Team and Pastoral Council is sponsoring an "INVITATION SUNDAY" this summer, which will be followed by a parish picnic. Our hope is to help our parishioners realize THEIR role as evangelists. We will give invitation cards to each parishioner to think about giving to their neighbors or friends. There will be no pressure, just a simple and loving invitation. The music, homily, greeters, ushers and hospitality will all be tailored toward this outreach. Answer: Please send us a write‐up of what you are doing and how it went. We'd love to share this. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prayers on this ministry…. Question: Lita Gonzalez from Toronto, Canada asks: How do you organize those small groups? Answer: Again, the Manual will help you with this. Year of Faith Webinar: Creating Vibrant, Evangelizing Parishes 3
Responses to unanswered questions Question: Lita Gonzalez from Toronto, Canada asks: Who facilitates those small groups (internal ministries)? Answer: Parishioners who have basic skills in dealing with others make excellent facilitators. Question: Liz Hemberger from Toms River, New Jersey asks: In what way would homilies focus to help people "hear the word of God and encounter Christ in a new way?" Answer: Preachers need to understand their role in "making disciples" through the ministry of preaching. Often they do not. If they do, then they are preaching conversion and renewal at every Mass. The USCCB on their website has an excellent treatment of preaching. www.usccb.org. Question: Loretta Fernandez from Cranford, NJ asks: What I am coming up against is a significant number of parents who are not aware of a possibility of a personal relationship with Christ, who say that this is not for them now but for when they get older and their children are gone. They want social events so that their children will think that church is fun and opportunities to give service to those in need. Even giving information and asking to share, goes back to wanting to socialize/service opportunities. Answer: I'm not sure this has to be an either/or. Either we socialize or we share faith. If parents were invited to something like the "Family Activities" of Living the Eucharist, and if there were some preparatory sessions on their own faith, and faith commitments, as part of that‐‐i.e., giving them a chance to share what makes their faith lives tick, then maybe they can show sharing behaviors more clearly. I often think: it's not that Catholics don't have religious experience; it's just that we don't put who we are in that category. Question: Marcelle Brenner from All Saints Parish, Brunswick asks: What are the most effective means of reaching these young families as they are not regularly coming to church. They may drop their children off for religious education and leave to do errands, never setting foot in the church themselves? Answer: If we had a sure‐fire answer to this question, we'd bottle it and build up an endowment! However, parishes are adding processes of sharing for parents as part of their religious education; I've also seen intergenerational expressions of religious education that have been quite effective. Some parishes use "Awakening Faith" as a component to help people reconnect with their faith. That they bring their children tells you that they are far from Christ. Question: Mark Barthelemy from Decatur, IL asks: I missed where the term "Living the Eucharist" came from: is it a specific, developed program that our parish can purchase or use, or are we talking about individual evangelism by setting an example for others with our personal conduct? Answer: "Living the Eucharist" is a program that we put out; it is based on "Sacrament of Charity" by Pope Benedict. It helps people connect the Eucharist to their daily lives through the many sharing and praying processes it develops. www.livingtheeucharist.org Question: Mary Bryson from Delavan, WI asks: Do You have Ideas on how to promote and encourage people to form/join a small group. Getting people to lead these are hard. I do understand it is baby steps, just wondering if anyone had suggestions on what they do to promote this within their parish. Answer: Most parish staffs, if they sat around a table, could come up with a good list of potential group leaders. We know them from the ministries and committees of our parishes. The only way I've seen small groups get underway is to have a "sign up" weekend when we invite everyone to look over a sign‐ up form and consider being part of a small group. Again, the manual of Living the Eucharist spells these steps out. Question: Mary Wietecha asks: Are these parishioners that participate in the Living the Eucharist small group experience, active parishioners or Sunday Catholics as well? Answer: Various kinds of people come to these Living the Eucharist groups. Most would be somewhat active, since one signs up at Mass, but a lot of informal invitation goes on between parishioners and friends. Small groups are an excellent way to reach people just over the edge, and reconnect them. Year of Faith Webinar: Creating Vibrant, Evangelizing Parishes 4
Responses to unanswered questions Question: Mary Wietecha asks: Did the experiences that were quoted about Lectio Divina come from practicing Catholics or those that are newly practicing. Answer: These were from Catholics in small groups and other components of Living the Eucharist. Question: Mary Wietecha asks: We have active small group faith communities within our parishes. We are always pulling from the same pool of people. Do you have insights into encouraging non‐active parishioners to join? Answer: By "non‐active" I presume you mean people who come to church but are not part of small groups? Look at the answer above about "sign up" Sunday. Parishes today can also do a lot of outreach through the internet and emails. Question: Melanie Johnson from Victoria, BC Canada asks: A follow up to Virginia's question: If a parishioner were to start with a small group would you recommend the great bible adventure series? Answer: I think any numbers of follow‐ups are possible, depending on the group and the purpose. Question: Michael Opalka from Miami asks: Any ecumenical movement to include working with Eastern Catholics, the Orthodox, or Protestant/Evangelical churches? Answer: Living the Eucharist is focused on Catholics. But I think Protestants and Orthodox who held to the strong commitment of "real presence" that Catholics hold could also be part of the group. Question: Michael Opalka from Miami asks: Any programs to reach our teens & young adults? Answer: There are many resources for youth ministry, and others are far more qualified to talk about them than I am. Our Paulist ministry, www.bustedhalo.com, is very helpful with ideas about Young Adults. Question: Michael Opalka from Miami asks: is there a public service component to the new evangelization (helping at soup kitchens, etc.) Answer: "Charity" as service to others is a very strong component in the panoply of ideas surrounding "the New Evangelization." Question: Millet LoCasale from Egg Harbor Township, NJ asks: I'm curious to find out what the levels of parish participation that the participants of the small sharing groups are. Have there been participants in the small groups that either go to Mass on Christmas and Easter only or have left the Catholic church altogether? Answer: I think the membership of these groups is mostly rather active Catholics, but I also know that less‐than‐active Catholics have participated with good results. We recommend for inactive Catholics our process called "Awakening Faith" (www.awakeningfaith.org). There are also other programs out there. Question: Nadine Marchan‐Wheeler from Honolulu asks: We have been doing what you are suggesting, we are also encouraging note taking during the homily and journaling after mass. Is this okay? Answer: I am not sure preachers find it easy to watch people taking notes during their talks. Far too few Catholics, however, talk about the Mass and the homily after it is over. Journaling, discussion questions, summary points‐‐in the bulletin or the "announcement" slot‐‐might generate the kind of follow‐through you are seeking. Question: Nadine Marchan‐Wheeler from Honolulu asks: Young adults are much more open to small groups. The adults are in great need of coming "out of their comfort zones" but we have found it profound when we do this. Is there a program that you can suggest for the adults? Answer: The point of Living the Eucharist is precisely to get Catholics reflecting on their faith, and the Eucharist, in small groups. Check out the website, www.livingtheeucharist.org. Question: Patricia Grundy from Michigan asks: The slide, "Traits of a vibrant parish" lists effective liturgies first. I think most parishes would claim to have effective liturgies. Please clarify which kinds of celebrations of our Sacred Mass will place the emphasis on worship if the Holy Trinity, and those which may place the emphasis on the faithful. Answer: I do not see an "either/or" in the way your question is phrased. The Faithful come together precisely to be involved in the life of the Trinity; the Trinity builds up the faith of each Catholic and Year of Faith Webinar: Creating Vibrant, Evangelizing Parishes 5
Responses to unanswered questions Catholics as they are gathered into community. A Mass that de‐emphasizes God, or de‐emphasizes the faithful, is not a Mass that fulfills Catholic purposes, Question: Patricia Johnson from Valley City, ND asks: Does it have to be used during Lent? Answer: Living the Eucharist is designed for Lent. We will be coming out with other programs for use at other times. Stay posted. Question: Patricia Johnson from Valley City, ND asks: Would this be something that could be used for our Family Faith Formation? It meets once a month with entire families in attendance. Answer: Living the Eucharist is focused on weekly events, six times, during Lent. One session might be chosen for an event such as you describe, but it is not designed specifically for that. Question: Peter Gill from Middlefield, CT asks: What is your vision for a renewed parish structure? Answer: Parish structures will vary on the parish: its setting, its pastor, its size, and its finances. Parishes that serve both those who come and strive to serve those who are not present seem to me to be necessary today. How parishes design their leadership to accomplish this is an important conversation to have. Question: Jan Konrade, Abilene Kansas USA asks: In this time when no one comes to church events, what suggestions do you have for motivating people to try it‐‐what did people say most motivated them. Answer: "No one comes to church events." I do not find this true in most parishes. I'd ask the pastoral council to review the events of the parish; maybe they were designed years ago and the population has changed. People today are greatly motivated by a desire to grow in faith and grow in community. Question: Rev. Mr. Simeon Panagatos from Smyrna, Tennessee asks: How do we reach those non attending Catholics or even unchurched in the community? Answer: We have resources for this in our catalogue or on our website. "Awakening Faith" for inactive Catholics; "Seeking Christ" for seekers. Each has a manual with lots of ideas. How this happens depends on the local setting and the ways people communicate in a particular area. Question: Robert Oliver from Mays Landing, NJ asks: How do we handle the tension between being a welcoming community and restricting communion for non‐Catholics? Answer: I think people can be invited to the Eucharist without being able to receive. We can explain this to people in a pastoral way, as opposed to simply pronouncing dogma that seems irrelevant to them. More and more I see people coming forward to receive blessings at communion time. Although I've seen this practice attacked in some circles, it makes a lot of pastoral sense to me. Question: Tammy Flippo from Huntsville, AL asks: How do we help ensure that small groups meeting off campus (in households) remain open and inviting to all parishioners rather than becoming "cliques"? Answer: This is a perennial danger for all small groups. I think having retreat events for all small groups and leaders will help them from becoming cliquish circles. Question: Tammy Flippo from Huntsville, AL asks: This summer our adult ed minstry introduced a Lectio Divina workshop of four sessions combined with what we call "painting with prayer" (adding art / drawing in response to a lectio divina session). All of the participants loved the experience such that we are going to incorporate it this Fall into our regular adult ed spirituality offerings. Answer: Please write this up and send it to me, about 250 word description, and we would be happy to publicize it in Evangelization Exchange. Send it to: email@example.com. Question: Terrie Baldwin from Cleveland asks: For Living the Eucharist is this a process where families stay together or are people separated by age? Can you speak to logistics of this? Answer: Families stay together for the "Family Activities" component. Otherwise they sign up for small groups depending on the days they are best able to participate. I presume that a married couple, and even their adult children, can ask to be part of one group, or form a group by asking their neighbors.
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Responses to unanswered questions Question: Thomas Wray from Cincinnati asks: So often cradle Catholics are evangelization‐resistant! How best to invite cradle Catholics‐‐without alienating them‐‐‐who feel that they already have an institutional encounter with Jesus Christ, into a personal encounter with Jesus Christ? Answer: I think the best way is to help cradle Catholics see that they ALREADY have many levels of personal encounter with Christ. The problem is that we THINK in institutional terms; we need to help people think in RELATIONAL terms. You can order my little DVD, The Evangelizing Liturgy, for a 45 minute presentation on the evangelizing dynamics of the Mass. Get it at www.pemdc.org/store. It's only $15 and I smile a lot throughout the presentation!!! Question: Walt Sears from Seattle, WA asks: It seems that the secular world around us wants to see faith made real in life as opposed to what they would call 'lip service'. Answer: Yes, people do not like frauds. The Pope has a lot to say about this, and it's refreshing. But for all the hypocrites in the church, we should also remember there are tons outside the church as well. Question: Walt Sears from Seattle, WA asks: This interior work is vital and important, but it has been my experience that many people keep that interior work and hold it privately. They don't necessarily feel compelled to share these experiences in the secular world that they encounter each day ‐‐ especially in a culture that actively encourages people to keep their faith private. Answer: We have not made "sharing" look very viable for Catholics. We need to give Catholics models of how to do it. Catholics are rightly intimidated by some religious groups that assault others in the name of sharing. We can only share with people who have established a relationship of trust with us.
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