Catholic Evangelism?

Some might say that “Catholic evangelism” is an oxymoron.

Since I left the Catholic Church in my teenage years I have never had anyone make a serious attempt to win me back.  Representatives of Evangelical churches have knocked on my door several times in the hope of converting me, but I have never had a Catholic share their faith with me.  I know that Pope John Paul II called for a “new evangelization,” but I am not quite sure how the Catholic laity pursue such an agenda.

I thus found this Washington Post piece to be particularly interesting.  It seems that some Catholics are trying their hand at what the piece calls “old-fashioned evangelism.”  And when they say “old fashioned evangelism” they seem to mean old-fashioned evangelical-style evangelism.  Here is a taste:

SHREWSBURY, Mo. — On a recent rainy Saturday, about 125 Catholics packed a basement conference room, many of them older, most of them lay people. Many were representing their parishes.

They gathered here to learn how to spread the faith, a concept that is both fundamental to Christianity and nearly foreign to modern Roman Catholics.

For the first hour of the conference, Kenneth Livengood, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Parish in St. Ann, Mo., detailed one way — door-to-door evangelization, a missionary strategy more familiar to Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“We’ve been tricked into thinking faith is a private matter,” Livengood told the audience. “That’s a lie. Faith is meant to be public, and there are many ways to share it.”
He taught them how to form a door-to-door ministry, explained how to divide a boundary map of their parish into geographical sections, suggested useful handouts, gave safety tips, and showed videos that detailed the best way to respond to various reactions from those on the other side of the door.

“Divide up into teams of two,” Livengood said. “One of you can do the talking and the other should be a silent prayer warrior. At the next house, flip your roles.”

Evangelization is central to the Christian mission, but for the average adherent, the physical act of approaching a neighbor, work colleague or family member can be daunting.

Read the rest here.

This sounds like some folks in the Catholic Church have adopted something akin to the “Evangelism Explosion” methods made popular by the late D. James Kennedy

One thought on “Catholic Evangelism?

  1. The invaluable George Weigel interviews Pope Francis on

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2133/evangelical_catholicism_pope_francis_and_the_21stcentury_church.aspx#.UXsrxaLUfxo

    It's quite true that evangelism hasn't been part of the Roman Catholic ethos–why didn't they try to “get you back?” I think part of it is that any Catholic can see that someone who actively leaves the Church for a Protestant denomination is more active in their faith than “cradle Catholics,” CINOs as it were.

    So God bless.

    I do think that those who leave the Roman Church tend to do so out of disgust at the failings of its heirarchy, or because evangelical Protestantism offers an emotional connection that the RCC liturgy did not.

    However, those who convert/return to Roman Catholicism often do so because their minds, their intellects are restless. J. Budziszewski:

    “Naturally I taught my students Thomas Aquinas, but I found it difficult to do so. The problem was that his arguments presented such a strong appearance of truth. For the very beauty of this appearance, I had to exercise strong discipline not to weep. One of my students in those days asked permission to put a personal question. “I’ve been listening carefully,” he said, “and I figure that you’re either an atheist or a Roman Catholic. Which one is it?”

    Although I grew up in Catholic schools and attended a Catholic college, I was never taught Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the only Christian philosopher who is given a place at the table along with Plato, Aristotle and all the greats. Having discovered him late in life meself, I go, hmm. Not bad. Not bad atall.

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/jbudziszewski_int1_feb05.asp

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