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franciscanway - Franciscan University of Steubenville

franciscanway - Franciscan University of Steubenville

MISSION IMPOSSIB The New

MISSION IMPOSSIB The New Evangelization in America Today 12 Franciscan Way • Autumn 2008 By Emily Stimpson

GOOD MORNING, FRANCISCAN FRIENDS AND ALUMNI. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: To become an agent of the new evangelization. Your objectives: To preach the Gospel in the here and now. To speak ancient truths in fresh words and ways. To stir in the hearts of the faithful a deepened love for Christ. To call the fallen away home, love the lost, and make disciples of all nations. To recover Catholic traditions, rediscover Catholic culture, and renew the Catholic faith. To build a civilization of love. Obstacles include but are not limited to: A culture awash in relativism; rampant secularism; the mainstreaming of pornography; compulsive busyness and over-scheduling; a hostile media; broken families and communities; decades of poor faith formation; hearts and minds wounded and warped by sin; Richard Dawkins; Planned Parenthood; and MTV. Recommended assets consist of the following: Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the new United States Catechism for Adults, 2,000 years’ worth of Church documents, the writings of the Church fathers, the testimony of the saints, the graces of the sacraments, and a degree in catechetics or theology from Franciscan University. Your mission plan is fl exible. It can and should be adapted to the conditions and needs of the people you serve. It also, however, should incorporate these tried-and-true principles, culled from the experience of Franciscan’s top fi eld agents in the new evangelization. Read closely. The success of your mission may depend on it. LE? Preach the Whole Gospel. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? Preaching Preachingthe Good News to the culture doesn’t mean compromis- ing with the culture. c Just ask Jim Gontis, MA Theology ’97, director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Harrisburg. “We’re hardwired har for the truth,” says Gontis. “And watering down the faith works wor against us. An easy message may attract people at fi rst, but in the th end, it doesn’t get them anywhere.” Over the ppast several years, under the leadership of Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Rh d the h Harrisburg diocese has experienced a renewal on just about every front—liturgical, catechetical, and devotional. On Divine Mercy Sunday, the cathedral is now packed for Mass and long lines for confession last throughout the day. Every summer, 100 young men between the ages of 15 and 25 spend a week in seminary discerning their vocation and going deeper in the faith. Not surprisingly, the number of seminarians is on the rise. Key to it all, says Gontis, has been “solid teaching.” “You promote the truth, fi nd solid people to teach, form them even more in their faith, and give them solid resources,” he says. “It’s not about fancy techniques,” he continues. “It’s about not downplaying the fatherhood of God or the role of the Blessed Mother. It’s about stressing the importance of the one, holy, and apostolic Church in God’s plan for salvation, teaching people about mortal and venial sin, about our need for sanctifying grace, about the necessity of going to confession, and about the graces that come from receiving the Eucharist.” That principle, adds Emily Malay ’07, is doubly important when evangelizing the young. “The students I work with are searching for truth, but all the culture does is feed them lies,” says Malay, who after graduating from Franciscan with her BA in theology, went on to work with FOCUS, a Catholic apostolate that ministers to students on college campuses. “When you give them something that is genuine, they recognize it and want more. “The priests on the campuses where we work are amazed when they see how much attendance at daily Mass goes up, how much confession is up, how much the numbers in RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] are up. But it’s all because we’re feeding them truth,” she continues. “That’s what they want.” Franciscan Way • Autumn 2008 13

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