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franciscanway - Franciscan University of Steubenville

franciscanway - Franciscan University of Steubenville

Tomorrow . . . The

Tomorrow . . . The Franciscan University Catechetical Institute and Chair in Catechetical Studies Accordingly, through Franciscan University’s current capital campaign, the school seeks to meet the growing demand for solid catechesis and catechists by creating a catechetical institute and funding a new academic chair in catechetical studies. To make this possible, the University seeks to raise $1.5 million over the course of the next two years. Once the campaign is complete, the institute will subsume the current Catechetics Program, increasing the number of faculty and allotting additional funds to outreach efforts. In combination with the chair, who would divide his or her time between teaching and publishing, this new catechetical institute will allow Franciscan University to: • Admit, teach, and graduate more catechetics students; • Host conferences around the country that provide ongoing catechetical formation and training; • Begin a comprehensive publishing program that will provide schools, parishes, and dioceses with high-quality catechetical materials; • Provide regular consulting services that will assess diocesan and parish needs and provide concrete guidance on how they can strengthen their programs. To make a contribution to Franciscan University’s capital campaign, contact the Advancement Offi ce at 1-800-783-6447 or advancement@ franciscan.edu. Antonucci’s Seafood Combination (Tutto Mare) Robert Canori ’75 4 oz. fresh salmon, cut into bite-size pieces 16 Franciscan Way • Autumn 2008 people take the show home with them. “Being able to direct people to additional resources—books, Web pages, online Bible studies—is an absolute must,” says Westby. “The more good resources you can give them to explore on their own time, the better.” Build Catholic Identity. Once upon a time, Catholics in America lived in Catholic neighborhoods, attended Catholic schools, and associated almost exclusively with other Catholics. Much of life revolved around the parish, and the rhythm of days, months, and years was set by the rhythm of the Church. Not anymore. Today, most Catholics live, work, and play in the midst of American culture, and it is American culture, not Catholic culture, that forms their habits of life and thought. In carrying out the new evangelization, part of your task is to help Catholics come to see themselves fi rst and foremost as Catholics, to help them reshape the pattern of their lives in such a way that Christ and the faith are at the center. But you don’t have to herd them back into Catholic ghettos to do that. In Bossier City, Louisiana, youth minister Micah Murphy ’07 puts his bachelor’s degree in theology to use not just by catechizing his teens at twice-weekly meetings, but also by designing T-shirts with his youth group. Their latest—inspired by the wisdom of Eric Dietel ’07—features the words, “Catholic Kung Fu” on the front, and “Never Attack, Always Defend” on the back.

“This is the age of Napoleon Dynamite,” he explains. “The kids love T-shirts with random humor on them. Wearing T-shirts that also proclaim the Gospel gives the teens a way of expressing their faith. It helps them stand out as a group and shapes the way they see themselves.” For those not given to wearing T-shirts, Jim Gontis recommends rebuilding Catholic identity the old-fashioned way—through a recovery of traditional devotions. “Devotions are vital to what it means to be Catholic,” he explains. ‘They’re channels of grace that plug us into the incarnational nature of the faith. They incarnate truth in our daily lives.” Those devotions, he continued, can include the Rosary, eucharistic adoration, novenas, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Stations of the Cross. They also can include little habits like praying the Angelus, crossing yourself as you pass a Catholic Church, and not eating meat on Fridays. Some are small acts, some are big, but “the more people incorporate these devotions into their lives, the more the faith can shape them,” Gontis says. Embrace the Internet. All good agents of the new evangelization must make their peace with the Internet…and with its spawn—blogs, podcasts, and MP3s. You don’t have to like the Internet. You are free to resent the 4,667 e-mails in your inbox, but you must forge an accord the World Wide Web. And use it. According to Eric Westby, in 2008, a parish or an apostolate without a well-designed Web site is like a parish or an apostolate without a phone number. “Today, when people want to fi nd something, they go to the Web. And they expect to fi nd what they’re looking for with as few clicks as possible,” he says. That means, Westby continues, that when someone visits a parish Web site, within two clicks or less they should discover the Mass and confession schedule, learn what catechetical opportunities the parish offers, and fi nd out what ministries the parish operates. They should also fi nd links to Bible studies, apologetics, podcasts, pro-life apostolates, and other Web sites that can answer their questions about the faith. “One of the blessings of the technological revolution is that we can give people information whenever they’re ready to look for it,” Westby says. Another blessing, adds Carson Weber, is that “you can reach people where they are and in the way they’re accustomed to learning.” Although Weber has his MA in theology and catechetics, his undergraduate degree is in information technology. That undergraduate degree was almost as important in the Diocese of Sacramento’s decision to hire him as his graduate degree. That’s because the diocese is looking to Weber to help its catechists learn to use the new media in their evangelization efforts. Only one year into the job, Weber has already helped parish catechists fi nd Scripture resources online (like Scott Hahn’s Bible studies at salvationhistory.com). He has encouraged parishes to put kiosks from Lighthouse Catholic Media (which provide free CDs featuring talks by popular Catholic speakers) in the backs of their churches. And he’s even promoted podcasts like the Rosary Army’s That Catholic Show. “None of these things can replace the person of the catechist,” Weber says. “But the new media gives us the means to do an end run around people’s busy schedules and enter someone’s home or car to present the faith in a powerful and accessible way over and over again. It’s an opportunity for evangelization that we can’t afford to pass up.” MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? Warning. Some fi nal words of caution. If you sign up for this mission expecting to see the immediate results of your blood, sweat, and tears, you’d best revise those expectations. “The new evangelization is not a football Jim Gontis MA ’97 game,” says Gontis. “There’s no scoreboard that tells us how we’re doing. Much of the good we do will never be known in this life.” That’s not to say, however, that momentary glimpses of grace won’t come your way. Last year, one of Jason Pohlmeier’s students broke up with his girlfriend when she wanted their relationship to become inappropriately physical. He later told his teacher it was because of what he learned in class about the Church’s teachings on human sexuality. Similarly, not long ago, Eric Westby learned from one of the former students in his youth Jason Pohlmeier ’05 group, a young man who is now a Catholic priest, that his vocation took root during the seemingly thankless lunch hours he and Westby spent walking around his high school and inviting teens to youth group. “Every day we did that was frustrating for me,” recalls Westby. “I felt like I wasn’t meeting enough teens and that the teens I was meeting weren’t coming to youth group. It seemed like there was no fruit. Then, 10 years later, I learn that what needed to be accomplished was accomplished. It wasn’t for the teens that weren’t coming that I was supposed to do that. It was for the one teen and his vocation.” Other joys will come your way as well—seeing new Catholics born every year at the Easter Vigil, watching former students pursue further studies in theology, ordinations and consecrations, marriages and baptisms, and all the little moments where understanding dawns, questions fi nd answers, and wounds are covered over by grace—but the big pay off for this mission comes at the end. It consists of six little words. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So, the question remains. Are you in? Are you willing to take on a mission made possible by grace and grace alone? Are you ready to be an agent of the new evangelization? The world, the fl esh, and the devil are against you. God is with you. God bless and God speed. � **** THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN FIVE SECONDS. Emily Fogarty Franciscan Way • Autumn 2008 17

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