229 N. Franklin St., Prospect PA 16052; Ph (724) 865-2430; Fx. 724-865-1120; email@example.com; www.christophermoraine.org
To each of our Visitors: Welcome
· Many people who live within St Christopher’s parish area are looking for peace and happiness in their lives. They are looking to have the hardest questions in life answered. Like most of us, they think the answers to life’s questions can be found in excelling at work or at sports and in school. Yet, despite their hard work they have not found what their heart desires. How many of us sit in traffic jams and at red lights, hunched over the steering wheel, looking up at the sky and wondering: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Where am I going now and when I die? Does any of this even matter?
· While these questions may be basic, they are the most important questions in life. These are the questions that lead one to God.
· An irony of life is that our Creator and Father relentlessly pursues those He has created and at the same time the created usually run from Him – even when they are looking for Him. Evangelization is the process of helping those around us recognize the emptiness in our hearts and understanding that it can only be filled by Christ.
· As Catholics, our baptism calls each of us to spread the Gospel message to all. This is the work not only of the clergy, but of the laity. Activities like this letter are conducted to reach out to others and share the faith and make salvation available to all.
· Jesus Christ remains with us “yesterday, today and forever” on our journey not only through life’s most satisfying joys, but also through our most traumatic sorrows. He can be encountered everyday in the life of His Church: through the proclamation of the Word, with His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and in the hearts, union and service of His followers.
· Come join us as we seek to be with Him always… and allow Him to live in us!
· The Light is On for You: Initiative to Promote the Use of Confession. February 20, 2007. People today don’t think twice of telling all online or on TV, so why are they so reluctant to tell God what they did? Metro and radio ads, a billboard, “how-to” guides, a website (www.the-light-is-on.org) and more. “In a way, Confession has become a forgotten sacrament. “There are a lot of people who aren’t as familiar with it as they ought to be or would like to be.” “The Light is On for You” campaign. When they get to church, you will find “how to” guides on Confession that include a handy pop-out wallet card. One side of the card gives step-by-step instructions and the other, an Act of Contrition. Wuerl’s first pastoral letter God’s Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance. In it he tells Catholics that the Sacrament of Reconciliation – or Confession – “is the story of God’s love that never turns away from us…Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God waits, watches and hopes for our return every time we walk away. Like the son in the parable, all we need do to return to our Father is to recognize our wrong and seek God’s love…He offers us reconciliation if we ask for it.” An Invitation to Experience God's Mercy and Forgiveness It remains one of the great marvels of God's love that He would make forgiveness so readily available to us. The deepest spiritual joy we can sense is the freedom from whatever would separate us from God and the restoration of our friendship with a loving and merciful Father who receives each of us with all the forgiveness and love lavished on the prodigal son. Renewed, refreshed and reconciled through this sacrament, we who have sinned become a “new creation.” This Lent, I hope that all of us experience this newness of spirit and soul. Catholics, especially those who have been away from the Church or the sacrament, are invited to experience God's mercy and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. To help you get started, you will find information here on how to go to Confession, frequently-asked questions, links to Catholic parishes and their locations, and more.
· Evangelizing Parish: Go and Make Disciples
· Evangelization is most successful when it becomes more of a mindset than a program. Programs have their place, no doubt. However, each baptized person is called to share the Gospel and no program, no matter how dynamic and well run, can squeeze everyone into it. The programs the Coordinator for Evangelization offers are not aimed at evangelizing the world, but instead at teaching our people to evangelize the world.
· To help parishes and individuals become better equipped to spread the Gospel message, the Archdiocese of Washington is implementing the USCCB evangelization strategy, “Go and Make Disciples.” This is a joint strategy between the Archdiocese and the parish. Training, guidance and speakers are provided by the Archdiocese. The most important part, dedicated Catholics, is provided by the parish. Customizing the strategy to each parish is essential since each parish is unique. One size does not fit all.
· While we are a diverse Archdiocese, we all can focus together on three broad areas or goals in this strategy.
· Goal One: To bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 89)
· There are Catholics who, while they have not rejected Christ, certainly are not very enthusiastic about their faith. Reaching out to these Catholics and helping them to better understand their faith and live it is essential. Catholics who are enthused about their faith are more likely to provide a good witness and position themselves, and the Church, to better proclaim the Gospel.
· “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49)
· Goal 2: To invite all people in the United States, whatever their social or cultural background, to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 109)
· The Church, Her liturgy and the Sacraments are all gifts. Certainly, we should want to share them! In the hustle and bustle of people’s lives there is an emptiness and hollowness that can only be filled through Jesus. Every person should be invited to salvation in Jesus and His Church. He is the head and everyone should be invited to be part of the body.
· “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
· Goal 3: To foster gospel values in our society, promoting the dignity of the human person, the importance of the family and the common good of our society, so that our nation may continue to be transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ. (Go and Make Disciples, no. 117)
· Pope John Paul II tells us that the solution to every problem in the world is Christ. We know that if all people lived Christ-like lives the problems would disappear.
· Those who are living Christ-centered lives discover they can find Jesus in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, those without proper clothing, the homeless and the sick and imprisoned. As Catholics we respond to these challenges by instructing the ignorant, encouraging the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently, readily forgiving others, comforting the afflicted and praying for both the living and the dead.
· “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
· Go and Make Disciples is not a program that super-cedes existing programs. Instead, it works in unison with them to help make sure that we do not lose the forest for the trees. Implementing Go and Make Disciples requires the support of key parish leaders.
· Implementation/Parish Planning
· While there is often a desire to start evangelization efforts in a parish there is often confusion on how or when to start. The Archdiocese can assist parishes in creating an evangelization program that is customized to the particular needs of the parish. With the aid of the Archdiocese, a group of parishioners, along with key staff, are led through a planning process to create their own strategy.
· Considering the distinct learning style of adults the process is condensed over seven sessions. By the completion of the planning process the parish will have:
· Read and discussed the USCCB statement, “Go and Make Disciples”
· Learned the why and how of Catholic evangelization
· Formulated strategies for three broad goals
· Hosted a successful workshop that has led people to desire a deeper relationship with God and provided the necessary follow up.
· Inactive Catholics “Road To Emmaus” workshops
· Almost every Catholic family has at least one member who has either become inactive or formally left the Church. The rest of the family feels hurt and is often confused.
· There is a great temptation to try and find a quick and easy solution to this problem. Sadly, there is no quick fix. The reasons Catholics become inactive or leave are many and varied. Each person has his or her own story to tell and challenges to overcome.
· Rarely will a person return to the Church when someone lectures him or her on how the person “is not being a good Catholic.” Instead, to help someone back to the Church two things must be kept in mind. First, it is the Holy Spirit that moves people back to the Church. Second, the role of the person trying to reinvigorate the inactive Catholic is to help the person recognize that God is in fact calling him or her back.
· Entering into a friendship with the inactive Catholic is essential. Having someone to talk to, share burdens with and ask counsel of softens the heart.
· “Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.“ (Luke 24:13-16)
· Some Catholics simply drift away. They used to be involved, but withdrew for no apparent reason. There is no one reason, but a general lack of interest. Other Catholics may have issues with Church teaching or have gone through a divorce or a member of the Church may have hurt them in one way or another.
· “He asked them, ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?’ And he replied to them, ‘What sort of things?’” (Luke 24:17-19)
· Understanding a person’s challenges and being able to meet him or her on the road of doubt often requires us to leave our own comfort zone and venture where we would not normally go. Here again, friendship is the key. In today’s busy society few people have any real true friends. Friendship provides the Christian witness that often was lacking before the person left the Church. Relationships prepare the ground for the seed of the Word of God to be proclaimed.
· "Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in the scriptures." (Luke 24:27)
· As friendships mature and the Gospel is able to be proclaimed among two friends there comes a time when the person can be asked to return to the extended family, reconcile and fully take part in the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the summit of Christian living.
· “As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” (Luke 24:28-31)
· Programs are being created to help inactive Catholics return to the Church. In light of the diversity of the people, programs are being developed that meet the needs of each local parish.
· Awareness & witness: discovering my experience of God.
· Each baptized person has a responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to those around them. Considering the challenges that the world poses us all it is information that the world desperately needs.
· Part of the challenge of sharing our faith is that we often have to do it at unexpected times or in strange places. It is at a child’s soccer game, a business lunch or in the food store when people comment on the number of children hanging off the sides of the shopping cart that we have an opportunity to share Christ with others. Sharing our faith with others comes naturally to some but to most it is something that must be learned. A common mistake that people make is to try and evangelize like someone they have seen on TV or heard on the radio. While we can all certainly learn some things from famous evangelists we have to admit there is a big difference between talking about God over the phone to a friend and speaking in a stadium filled with eighty thousand people!
· It is essential that the person who is sharing their faith is providing an authentic witness. An authentic witness springs from the heart of the person who has taken the time to become aware of God in their own life.
· Awareness & Witness Retreatsteaches people how to tell the story of Christ’s action in their life in their own way. Instead of trying to evangelize like someone else the participants learn to share the faith in a way they feel most comfortable with.
· Learning About the Catholic Faith
· Welcome! We are glad that you are interested in finding out more about the Catholic Faith and we hope that this introduction will lead you to discover more.
· How do I find out about Catholicism?
One of the best ways is to contact a Catholic parish near you to let them know that you are interested in finding out more about the Catholic Faith. You will be invited to join with others like yourself as you inquire into what "being Catholic" is all about: who we are, what we believe, how we live our lives, how we pray, and more.
· If you are interested in reading about Catholicism, there are a number of excellent resources available. One extensive compendium of Catholic beliefs is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which you can explore online or order from your favorite bookstore.
· What if I think that I want to become Catholic?
We believe that God calls individuals to live the Good News Jesus proclaimed and to become his disciples as members of the Catholic Church. If you want to become Catholic, you will participate in a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (sometimes called RCIA or simply Christian initiation.) Adults or children who have reached the age of reason (about 7 years old) learn about the teachings of Jesus as the Catholic Church has handed them on and put these teachings into practice by living as part of the Catholic community, serving others and praying.
· What does initiation into the Catholic Church entail?
If you have not been baptized, the Christian initiation process prepares you to become a Catholic Christian by celebrating what we call the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist or Holy Communion.
· If you have been baptized in another Christian tradition, the initiation process prepares you to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church by celebrating the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist or Holy Communion.
· How long does it take to become a Catholic?
Becoming Catholic is a life-long commitment. However, the Christian initiation process typically lasts for several months or longer in order to prepare to take this step. Participants in the initiation process generally meet once or twice each week, including part of the Mass on Sunday, but each parish initiation schedule varies. The initiation of individuals who are ready to become new members of the Catholic Church may take place at Easter (in March or April) or at other times throughout the year.
· What if I change my mind?
You do not make any commitment or obligation by inquiring about Catholicism or beginning the Christian initiation process. We want you to take the time you need as you think about becoming Catholic and we respect your decision to stop or to say, "not right now" at any time. While we love being Catholic and hope that others will want to become Catholic also, we do not exert pressure on anyone to do so. Our hope would be that at the very least, you would come to a greater appreciation of Catholic beliefs and practices.