Catholics reenergising commitment to evangelism
The Catholic Bishop of Nottingham has urged Catholics to share their faith "at a time when so many people are in need of a word of hope".
Bishop Malcolm McMahon was speaking at a 'Crossing the Threshold' event which detailed how Catholics can move from The Year of Faith into a new season. The Church is hoping to reach out to non-believers as well as lapsed Catholics.
The day in Nottingham was offered in support of a pilot project that involves setting up parish evangelisation teams in the diocese, and is one of six resource days that are taking place across the country.
Churches across the UK are following Pope Francis' call to help revise attitudes towards Catholicism and to transform the way in which the Church responds to and engages with real life issues.
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has said that the Pope "is keen to promote an outwards focus [and] a paradigm shift from ordained to lay led leadership".
"He wants to animate evangelism, and encourage genuine friendship, listening and accompaniment," the Archbishop notes.
Speaking at the event at Holy Trinity School in Nottingham on 7 December, Bishop McMahon encouraged this outwards focus, saying, "Our Catholic faith has been freely given to us by God. It's unthinkable that anyone should hold back in freely giving what they have been freely given.
"Faith is the greatest joy and gift that anyone can ever find and should be shared. At a time when so many people are in need of a word of hope and consolation, it is our duty to be witnesses of faith to them.
"It's important that we're all attentive to opportunities to signpost someone to God's love and mercy through our words and actions."
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Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Bishops' Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, gave the keynote address, in which he stressed the importance of bringing non-churchgoing Catholics back into the faith.
"A crucial part of the re-evangelisation of our countries is to offer those who are baptised an opportunity to re-connect with the life of the Church," he said.
"Pope Francis has been modelling how we should do this – with gentleness, joy, humility, compassion and kindness.
"We all need to look into our own hearts to be evangelised ourselves, and then seek opportunities to lovingly reach out to people in our daily lives."
A number of workshops were offered at the event covering topics such as new media and outreach, listening skills, setting up small groups, creating an evangelising parish, Alpha for Catholics, social action, outreach to spiritual seekers and setting up a parish evangelisation team.
Nanette Brown, a member of a parish Crossing the Threshold evangelisation team in Grimsby, said: "Crossing the Threshold has given us an opportunity to embrace on a practical level the call to evangelise.
"We've got so much planned this Advent and Christmas to reach out to people, and it's been great to see local people's responses," she noted.
The day in Nottingham was offered by the Diocesan Adult Formation Department and the Bishops' Conference Home Mission Desk, in partnership with the National Core Group for Outreach and Ministry to Non Churchgoing Catholics.