Catholic evangelization is growth of holiness

Evangelization is simpler than knocking on doors, handing out copies of the Catechism and telling everyone we meet about our faith.

Paulist Father Frank P. DeSiano said people can share the word simply by learning about their role as disciples and how to welcome others to Christ’s love.

The president of the Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association in Washington, D.C., will focus on this concept during “Faith Alive,” a parish renewal Jan. 23-25 at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Gloverville.

In an interview with The Miscellany, Father DeSiano said personal conversion is the first step in learning how to present the message.

“Catholic evangelization is a process of the continuing growth of holiness within the church,” he said. “The biggest challenge Catholics have is that most of the cultural forms we developed to pass on faith between 1900 and 1960 are all being challenged or eliminated, and we have to develop new ways to share the faith.”

Changes in popular culture also make evangelization important.

Paulist Father Frank P. DeSiano“The culture today is much more consciously secular,” he said. “There is an idea that we don’t need salvation. People think: If I get my big screen TV, two perfect kids and a nice job, I can’t expect much more out of life. How do we respond to that as believers and bring the Gospel into that world without denouncing it?”

He said a strong relationship with God should lead Catholics to also build stronger relationships with others in their parish, and then with people in the wider community.

It is important to avoid the notion of “I’ve got God, and that’s all I need,” the priest explained.

“Community is the way we reflect God’s love in the way we receive and welcome each other,” Father DeSiano said. “Many of us haven’t begun to get that idea. We might greet people at our churches, but often we really treat each other like statues.”

Evangelization can start with something as simple as wearing a cross or medal, or talking about faith in daily conversation.

“We need to be more willing to show some of the dimensions of our spirit and spirituality in public,” he said. “When people are talking in the workplace about faith, we tend to hide under our desks rather than speak from our own experience … You know God has touched your life, you know you have a powerful and intimate encounter with God every Sunday at Mass. The key is getting Catholics to acknowledge and describe the powerful experience they already have.”