Bishop Paprocki’s Homily for the Opening of the Year of Faith

Our bishop, Thomas John Paprocki, gave a wonderful homily on October 14 marking the opening of the Year of Faith. In it, he laid out his plan for how Catholics in our diocese can live the Year fully:

To our sorrow, today there seems to be fewer and fewer people willing to apprentice themselves to Christ, to learn from him the will of the Father and the ways in which we may live in his love. You have heard the statistic, no doubt, that the second-largest religious group in the United States is non-practicing Catholics. I am sure that many of us know personally the people and stories behind these numbers. They are our sisters and brothers, our nieces and nephews, our sons and daughters, our neighbors and co-workers.

What can we say to reignite in them the fire of faith? What is Christ inspiring us to do to proclaim the faith anew to these lost sheep? These questions lie at the heart of the Year of Faith. Of this task, the Holy Father wrote: “To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived, and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year” (Porta Fidei, 9). To this end, I would like to propose to a three-fold plan to make the most of this Year of Faith.

First, we must be grateful for the faith we have received, for our encounter with the Lord. Families should strive to make their homes places where the family prays together, reads the Scriptures together, and is nourished together at Sunday Mass. Families should strive to allow their faith to influence everything they do, rather than reserving their faith only for an hour or so on Sunday.

Second, we must endeavor to understand all the more clearly the faith we profess. If a friend, family member or co-worker asks us a question about Catholicism, can we provide an adequate “ and correct “ answer? We ought to be able to do so.

Third, we must share our faith, not only with our family and friends, but with our co-workers and everyone we meet. As the Holy Father reminds us, “Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment “(Porta Fidei, 10).

This three-fold plan is the way of discipleship and through it we learn to apprentice ourselves to Jesus Christ.

The entire homily can be read on our diocesan web site; I heartily recommend it to you.

“The New Evangelization and the Year of Faith” Notes and Resources

Earlier today I gave a presentation entitled “The New Evangelization and the Year of Faith” at the National Catholic Education Association’s CACE annual meeting in San Diego. What follows is the PowerPoint and notes for the session as well as the resources I recommended to those present.

Thanks to everyone who attended my session and may God bless you in the work of the New Evangelization!

Notes –  “The New Evangelization and the Year of Faith” (October 22, 2012)

Outline/Notes (PDF)

Church Documents



Renewal in the Year of Faith

The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. The Council itself, in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, said this: While œChrist, ˜holy, innocent and undefiled’ (Heb 7:26) knew nothing of sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), but came only to expiate the sins of the people (cf. Heb 2:17)… the Church … clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. The Church, ˜like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). But by the power of the risen Lord it is given strength to overcome, in patience and in love, its sorrow and its difficulties, both those that are from within and those that are from without, so that it may reveal in the world, faithfully, although with shadows, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it shall be manifested in full light. 

– Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei (no. 6)

50 Year of Faith Activities: #13-15

Every Friday through October 5 I will be offering suggestions for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

    1. Hold a “Stump the Pastor” Night. Invite parishioners for a potluck and open Q&A with the pastor! Questions can be about anything connected with the faith. Be sure to bring copies of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sacred Scripture, and other reference texts for those really tricky questions.
    2. Thank your catechists. Catechists are a vital part of the parish’s faith life — they help to pass on the faith to children and to grow the faith of adults. Give them a token of your appreciation: a thank you note, a small gift (chocolate never hurts!) or even an end-of-year dinner to show your appreciation.
    3. Start a Catholic book club. Gather a group to read and discuss great Catholic literature! You can read a book a month, or tackle a large work across multiple months. You can find lots of free study guides online; just search Google. With so many great Catholic books and authors out there you’ll have years’ worth of material to work with!

Photo by Ralph Hammann/WikiCommons

50 Year of Faith Activities: #11-12

Every Friday through October 5 I will be offering suggestions for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

  1. Run a monthly “Year of Faith” column in your diocesan paper. Dioceses can run a monthly column about various Year of Faith-related topics. Invite various participants — curia staff, pastors, and parishioners — to write items to be included. Possible topics include the gift of the Catechism, memories of what it was like growing up Catholic in the wake of Vatican Council II, or reflections on how the faith is lived in the local Church.
  2. Take parishioners to the Rite of Election. Every year all the catechumens of a diocese gather with the bishop for the Rite of Election. It is a powerful ritual moment in the life of those seeking to enter the Church, but one in which members of their local parish are often missing! Organize a trip with your catechumens to your cathedral so that parishioners can show their support and witness this important step in the RCIA for themselves!

50 Year of Faith Activities: #9-10

Every Friday through October 5 I will be offering suggestions for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

  1. Introduce the Liturgy of the Hours in your parish. The Divine Office is the prayer of the whole Church — not just the clergy and consecrated religious! As a special Lenten practice, hold a Vespers (Evening Prayer) service in your parish and invite the faithful to participate. Give some basic instruction on this largely unfamiliar liturgical prayer, and point families to resources for carrying it on after Lent is over.
  2. Interview your pastor. With the ubiquity of small, cheap video cameras — some embedded in the phones we all carry — creating videos to post online is easier than ever. Have your youth group come up with a series of questions and then interview the parish pastor. When they’re finished, upload the interview on YouTube and then share it on your web site and Facebook page!

50 Year of Faith Activities: #6-8

Every Friday through October 5 I will be offering suggestions for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

  1. Organize a “thank you note” drive for godparent(s).  This would be an ideal activity for Catholic schools, PSR programs, or Confirmation classes. Have the young people  write  thank you notes to their godparents — the people who stood by as they were baptized into the faith!
  2. Host a group reading of the Catechism.  Some places will honor an author or work by having a continuous group reading — why not for the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Have people sign up ahead of time to read a few sections, then come together to listen to it being read from start to finish! (Of course people don’t have to stay for the whole thing.) You can make this a multi-site event by using Skype or another video conferencing service.
  3. Raise money for the Pontifical Missions Societies. Celebrating our faith means sharing our faith! Hold a bake sale, rummage sale, or another fundraiser for the Holy Father’s evangelization efforts.

50 Year of Faith Activities: #4-5

Every Friday through October 5 I will be offering suggestions for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

  1. Host a local pilgrimage. Making a pilgrimage doesn’t have to mean traveling to far off places. There is probably a shrine or other holy place within your own diocese you can organize a day trip to! You can carpool in small groups, or for larger pilgrimages you can charge a small fee and rent a bus.
  2. Put on a concert. If you have a pool of musical talent to draw on, host a concert in your parish. This could be as simple as a selection of favorites from the pew hymnal or as complex as highlighting sacred music from the great tradition of the Church. You can do even more good through the event by taking up a good-will offering for your local Catholic Charities or other charitable organization.

Photo by Dmitri Korobtsov/FlickrCC

50 Year of Faith Activities: #1-3

Beginning this October the Church will be celebrating a Year of Faith. The beginning of the Year of Faith coincides with both the 50th  anniversary  of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well as the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father has expressed his wishes for the Year of Faith in these terms:

We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to  profess  the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the  celebration  of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is   œthe summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; … and also the source from which all its power flows.  At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’  witness  of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.

To that end, every Friday from today until the Year of Faith begins, I will be posting ideas for how dioceses and parishes can engage the faithful in the Year of Faith. I hope that these ideas will inspire you and your community to participate more fully in this special year.

  1. Live stream the opening of the Year of Faith.  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its “Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith”, recommends that dioceses hold special events to open  the Year of Faith. Using web cams and a service such as UStream, a parish or diocese could very easily broadcast these events live for those people who cannot attend in person. Most of these services can also record and archive so that  people  can watch at a later time as well.
  2. Invite testimonies.  Over the course of the year (maybe once per month) invite select members of your parish to give their testimony — their story of conversion, re-version, or just why they stay in the Church. These could be presented after Mass or at a special gathering during the week. Be sure to invite parishioners who are well-spoken or who have a particularly compelling story.  Bonus:  Record these testimonies and post them on your parish’s web site.
  3. Have a potluck for Mary!  This one can be done by families: invite friends and fellow parishioners over to your house for a communal praying of the Rosary and potluck! These events are a great way to meet new people through food and prayer. Be sure to have a few extra plastic rosaries on hand for those who forget theirs.

Photo by ashley rose/flickrCC

Episode 013 – Hangin’ Out

google-maistora-flickrCCI had an interview all lined up for this month, but then my interviewee wound up sick (hope you’re feeling better, Lisa!). Instead I’ve got a round-table discussion on Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of a Year of Faith to commence in October. This Year of Faith has been called to commemorate both the 50th anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The round-table was hosted as an open invitation Google+ Hangout. I was very happy to be joined by

  • Joyce Donahue, catechetical associate with the Diocese of Joliet
  • Lisa Hendey, blogger and host of
  • Russell Peterson, associate director of religious education with the Diocese of Belleville
  • Wendy Scherbart, director of catechetical ministry at the Diocese of San jose
  • Matt Smith, Faith Formation Director at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Princeton, West Virginia)

We discussed both the pope’s apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, which announced the Year of Faith; and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith.

The podcast was recorded with my handheld audio recorder set up in front of my computer speakers, so there may be some background noise.

Click to Play – 013 – Hangin-Out