Next Tuesday, November 11, two members of my department will host a webinar in which they discuss their trip to Rome to participate in an international conference on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:
In September 2014 Carlos Tejeda (director for marriage and family life) and Kyle Holtgrave (associate director for youth and young adult ministry) traveled to Rome to participate in the International Meeting on the Pastoral Project of Evangelii Gaudium.
In this free webinar Kyle and Carlos will share what they heard and saw during the meeting and how the “Joy of the Gospel” can impact your parishes and ministries in our diocese.
Sponsored by the Department for Catechetical Services of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and funded by generous contributions to the Annual Catholic Services Appeal and the Harvest of Thanks, Springtime of Hope Campaign.
Last week before heading out the door for an extended Thanksgiving holiday with my family in Kansas City I downloaded, printed, and stuck in a binder Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation in response to the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. My hope was that I’d find some time to read and reflect on the exhortation during the trip.
I only finished the first chapter, but already feel like I could spend 5 years just reflecting on and implementing those 42 pages. (And I still have 175 to go!)
Folks are breathlessly tweeting and blogging about the exhortation (and rightfully so!) and its impact on our understanding of evangelization and pastoral outreach. So far I’ve been particularly taken with no. 24, in which Pope Francis outlines characteristics intrinsic to an evangelizing community. As I read them, evangelizing communities
know that evangelization begins with God’s initiative
have an endless desire to show mercy
get involved in word and deed with other people
take on “the smell of the sheep”
patiently support and stand by people in their faith journey
are concerned with the fruits of their efforts
express their faith joyfully
In the following sections Pope Francis goes on to describe how these characteristics might be lived out in parishes, dioceses, other Catholic institutions, and even in the office of the papacy. These paragraphs should be required reading for anyone interested in how the mission of the Church is lived out in real situations and places. (I certainly wish we’d had this document when we started our department’s Journey of Discipleship project!)
As I indicated, there is a lot to unpack in the pope’s first major solo document to the Church and I’ll be posting more thoughts and reflections in the coming weeks. In the meantime: get reading!