Evangelization training is designed to help members of the collaborative staff tend to their own journey of faith as disciples.
Currently, 71 parishes are working out of the collaborative leadership model as 32 collaboratives. In June, those numbers will grow to 107 parishes and 49 collaboratives. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into preparing the clergy, councils, and staff of these parishes for the work of evangelization. They spend hours in training sessions to hone and develop additional leadership and evangelization skills. This is all part of the pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission. The training is not just to help collaboratives serve the spiritual needs of parishioners. Evangelization training is designed to help members of the collaborative staff tend to their own journey of faith as disciples.
What about parishioners in the 181 parishes that are not yet in a formal collaborative? Discipleship is not limited to people living, worshipping, or serving in a collaborative. Each person is called to an ever deepening, intimate, relationship with Jesus Christ. Growing in faith through prayer, sacraments, and education, should not end at confirmation. All of the baptized are called to be disciples and to evangelize. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church "Lumen Gentium" ("The Light of the World") directs the laity to work within the world as "leaven" (LG 31). Do faithful Catholics have to wait until their parish formally enters a collaborative before they are given an opportunity to learn new skills and share best practices? No.
The Office for Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support (OLFFPS) is presenting "Forming Disciples in Mission: A Workshop in Parish-Based Evangelization." This 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. workshop will take place at the Pastoral Center in Braintree on two Saturdays: June 6, and repeated Aug. 29. Additional dates will be added as needed. Patrick Krisak, director of Parish Training and Support says that the full-day workshop will offer participants, "the tools to understand the new evangelization, embrace living as an intentional disciple, become comfortable sharing personal witness, form disciples and work in the parish to form disciples." Kathryn Boyle, Amber Ezeani, and Tom Lyman, evangelization trainers from the Parish Training and Support Office, will present six core sessions focusing on evangelization and discipleship. An open mind and willingness to learn -- and perhaps a healthy curiosity -- are required; being part of a collaborative is not required.
Built on the sound principle that one cannot give what one does not have, attention is given first to personal faith development. Prayer is foundational to holiness of life and discipleship, and prayer opportunities during the workshop will draw on the rich tradition of the Church. Some forms of prayer may be new to attendees and could be incorporated into a person's daily prayer practice.
The workshop will assist participants in getting accustomed to the vocabulary associated with the new evangelization. For many people the word evangelization brings up images of preachers and prayer crusades under big tents -- definitely not standard operating procedure for Catholics, especially Catholics in the northeast. By engaging in lively give-and-take discussions, presenters will explore the phrase "intentional disciple" and give examples of what it looks like in action.
Many people do not hesitate to recommend a good book, a great movie, or a fabulous restaurant, and, in fact, will shout endorsements wide and far through social media. Some of these same people hesitate to mention the benefits of worshipping, praying, and singing with believers at Mass, or the blessing of participating in the sacramental life of the Church. The June 6 and Aug. 29 workshops will help attendees develop the confidence and language to talk about faith in a non-confrontational, non-threatening way.
The workshops are open to anyone who wishes to attend, one does not have to be sponsored or sent. Complete details, registration form and fee information is available from the Office of Training and Support at www.bostoncatholic.org/Offices-And-Services/Office-Detail.aspx?id=31111andpid=30983, or www.disciplesinmission.com, or by contacting Patrick Krisak at 617-746-5753.
SUSAN ABBOTT IS COORDINATOR OF PARISH OUTREACH FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.