Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the NCEA conference in Pittsburgh. I had a great time meeting up with Twitter friends old and new, attending great breakout presentations, and giving my own breakout on Catholic schools.
The highlight of the conference was an outstanding keynote address by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C. He spoke on the work of the New Evangelization in light of the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis and his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Some notes from that keynote:
- The New Evangelization consists of the Church going out into the world to share the beauty of the Gospel.
- The New Evangelization is not a program, but a way of seeing the world.
- We must recognize the challenges of a secular, materialistic, individualistic culture to the faith. Secularism has swept Western culture like a tsunami, sweeping away family, church, faith.
- We must be committed to and confident in the truth of the Gospel, then share it with others.
- Engaging in the the corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy is an indispensable part of the New Evangelization.
- Where do we meet Jesus today? With the only remaining living witness of his life, death, and resurrection: the Church. It is within the witness of the Church that we can be confident in the truth of the Gospel.
- New evangelists must be bold; connected to the Church; have a sense of urgency; and radiate joy. People must see and hear our joy; this way they may be inspired to follow us to Christ.
My only quibble with what was otherwise an outstanding address is that the cardinal spoke about the importance of both the parish and the school as contexts for passing on the Catholic faith — but failed to mention the family, which seems to me to be the most important context for evangelization and catechesis. This is understandable considering the audience; still, it would have been good to hear the family tied into the parish and the school.
Cardinal Wuerl has been a tireless promoter of the New Evangelization in this country. I highly recommend his book New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today for more of his insights and thoughts.