CLEMSON — Three Paulist churches in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, along with other parishes across the diocese, are preparing to take the next step in a five-year evangelization effort.
St. Andrew, St. Paul the Apostle and St. Francis churches will spend the next few weeks forming dozens of small, evangelization groups.
It’s a key element in the diocese’s Disciples in Mission program, launched last year by Bishop Robert J. Baker, a year he declared the Year of Evangelization, an ongoing theme this year.
The program is a ministry of the Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association and has been implemented in more than 30 dioceses nationwide.
In South Carolina, approximately 45 parishes are participating.
Teams in the three churches are signing up parishioners at Masses this weekend and next to form small groups that will meet during the six weeks of Lent to focus more on the Scriptures through evangelization.
Each group will use resources gathered from the Disciples in Mission program, along with parts of Pope John Paul II’s letter “On Evangelization in the Modern World,” and “Go and Make Disciples,” the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ response to that letter.
The groups will meet in a variety of settings – during Sunday morning formation classes, on weekday evenings, in family groups at church or in private homes.
The tri-parish evangelization effort of Disciples in Mission, along with that from other parishes in the diocese, will be led by a group of facilitators from the local parishes trained by the parish leadership team, a small group of parishioners who have been receiving their own training through the diocese since last fall.
The Disciples in Mission teams around the state have already begun its prayer campaign phase which starts six weeks prior to Lent and continues through Pentecost.
Parishes will say the Prayer for Evangelization during the weeks leading up to lent to pray for the diocese, parishes and the success of the process of conversion in discipleship.
It can be said at at the beginning or end of the liturgy as the pastor wishes, but many parishes are choosing to include it after the prayers of the faithful, according to Paul Schroeder, director of evangelization and catechesis for the diocese.
Sue Meehan and her husband, Jim, are parishioners at St. Andrew Church in Clemson.
They will lead one of the evangelization groups at their parish.
Sue Meehan said she hopes one outcome of the effort will be to successfully reach out to inactive Catholics.
“My hope is for a rejuvenation – for more members of the community to come back to their faith with a new excitement, a new enthusiasm,” Meehan said.
Schroeder is meeting this weekend with parish leadership teams from the Piedmont Deanery to make final preparations for the parish meetings, which will start the week of Ash Wednesday.
Other Piedmont Deanery parishes participating in the program include Prince of Peace in Taylors; Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Anthony of Padua in Greenville; Jesus, Our Risen Savior and St. Paul the Apostle in Spartanburg; Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood; St. Luke in Easley; Holy Cross in Pickens; and St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville.
A similar leadership meeting will be held at St. Joseph Church in Columbia from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for parishes in the Midlands Deanery.
For more information about Disciples in Mission contact Paul Schroeder at (843) 402-9115 ext 37.