Evangelization in the Third Millenium

Pope Benedict XVI has more than once expressed deep concern over the secularization of countries whose heritage has been rooted in a deeply Christian, if not Catholic, faith.  Most recently, there is evidence of this secularization in theUnited Statesas highlighted in the recent national religion poll conducted the reputable Pew Survey.  This survey has found that the largest religious denomination after the US Catholic Church with its 60 million communicants is “lapsed or non-practicing Catholics” estimated to be 30 million.

To counter this growing situation, the Holy Father has written forcefully about the need for the Church and its faithful to be more vigorous in proclaiming our faith.  To that extent, he has established a new Pontifical Council expressly concerned with evangelization.  In that regard, our own Archbishop, Cardinal Wuerl, has also recently issued his own pastoral letter on evangelization in the Archdiocese of Washington and has called upon all parishes and Catholics to be more involved in the promoting of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It should be said at the outset that the word “evangelization” comes wrapped in all kinds of meanings, particularly in the US.  Our first effort will be to convey a proper understanding of the term as it relates to the Catholic community and especially our cathedral parish community.    

Our parish community is responding to this call and determining ways that  parishioners and staff can assess and propose how we as individuals and as a community can deepen our own experience as Catholic; be a way of welcome return to the many who have become disaffected and beyond that to be a beacon to the many searching for a home of faith and spiritual nourishment.  Msgr Jameson assisted by Deacon Bart Merella will be coordinating our parish efforts.

 Possible Evangelization Initiatives 

General.  The following lists some early suggestions about areas where the parish team can devote the efforts of the team and parish:  

  • Cathedral website content 
  • Parish survey (Indicators of Vitality) - Leadership / Parish Council-Finance Council-Parish Council Committee Member / Liturgical Ministers / General Parish     
  • Facebook site content 
  • Revitalize ‘ambassadors’ 
  • Focus segments:  active Catholics, occasional Catholics, lapsed Catholics 
  • Interface with RCIA 
  • RCIA graduates  (what are they doing) 
  • Effective use of media

 Evangelization Survey –
Indicators of Parish Vitality

General.  The Archdiocese has developed a mechanism to assess the level of vitality in the areas of parish worship and life.  The survey is composed of five (5) sections covering worship, education, community, service (or outreach) programs, and finally administration.  Generally, each of the sections includes about ten or so statements which are specific activities that can provide evaluative information that can assist in identifying areas of success and areas that may need attention.  This data may also be used by the Archdiocese for assessing the life of theChurch ofWashington.  The fundamental objective of this survey is to highlight areas to enhance parish evangelization activities.

Approach.  Like most surveys, the information produced by the survey is confidential in that the identity of person completing the survey is not identifiable except as a member of a general parish category.  The survey was administered by Deacon Merella and involved the following segments of the cathedral parish:

  • Parish staff and evangelization team
  • Parish Council, Finance Council and Parish Council Committee Members
  • Liturgical Ministers
  • General parish, randomly selected
  • Hispanic Community

Results Reporting.  Significant results of the survey will be published to the general parish and where possible made available on the cathedral website, where advantageous.

 Evangelization Resources and Articles

The Vatican.  Provides documents published by the Holy See pertaining to evangelization


US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Primary site providing fundamental American church documents and other resources relating to evangelization

Archdiocese of Washington.  Primary site for obtaining information concerning the Archdiocese:
www.adw.org/pastoral/pdf/ADW_PastoralNewE_Eng.pdf  (Cardinal Wuerl’s pastoral letter on evangelization 

Paulist Documents.  Because of its mission, the Paulist religious institute is in the forefront of evangelization efforts in the American Catholic Church.

Pertinent Documents/Articles
Jew’s Defense of Catholicism
Why Women Stay Catholic

Relevant Books
 “From Maintenance to Mission” – Robert Rivers