By NICOLE GREGORY     9/28/2022

On Oct. 15, this year’s Evangelize Now Conference will take place at Christ Cathedral.

The event is open to “everyone who is interested in learning more about how to share their faith with those closest to them,” said Katie Dawson, director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange.

The conference will begin with Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann followed by a Eucharistic procession. There will be three language tracks for the day—Spanish, English and Vietnamese, explained Dawson.

Sister Regina Marie Gorman, of the Carmelite order in Alhambra and nationally known speaker, will give a presentation. She has a master’s degree in theology and Christian
ministry from Franciscan University in Ohio and has worked as a teacher, directress of novices, Superior General and Vicar General, among other duties. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sister Regina Marie grew up in Los Angeles and entered the convent in 1972.

Also featured will be Sister Gwen Đỗ Ngọc Huyền, from the Congregation of Mary, Queen which was founded as the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Vietnam. Sister Gwen has taught history and theology and has been the Vocation Director for her community. Today, she is the formation director for her congregation. She is involved with youth and young adult ministries and teaches theology at Notre Dame High School in St. Louis.

The third presentation will be made in Spanish by Padre Miguel Ángel Sánchez , pastor of Christ the King Church in the Archdiocese of Tijuana.

In years past, the conference has been attended by more than a thousand participants and was called Diocese Ministries Celebration or DMC.

“A lot of people didn’t know what that meant,” said Dawson. “The name change and rebranding reflect the fact that we’ve redirected this conference away from a catechetical focus to an evangelizing focus.”

“We hope the conference leads [participants] into a closer relationship with Jesus and that they learn more about how God loves them, and how we can share that love with other people,” said Deacon Steve Greco, director of Evangelization and Formation for the Diocese of Orange.

This years’ conference is more important than ever, according to Deacon Steve.

“There is more a sense of urgency now because of our culture,” he said. “So many people need to understand how much God loves them—we need tools, the words, to share our faith.”

A recent Gallup poll showed that the number of people who say they believe in God continues to decline, a trend that has been noticed by clergy.

“If you look at all the statistics, there are fewer people who truly believe in God, especially our younger people,” he said. “Having God at the center of life in our culture is much less common than it used to be. God hasn’t changed we have, as a culture.”

Deacon Steve sees this as a real danger for young people.

“They are letting the world run their lives, which doesn’t bring peace or joy or lasting happiness,” he said.

Some people may not understand what evangelizing entails, and this will be addressed by the conference.

“What we really want is to break down the Word — it means good news,” said Deacon Steve. “Everyone wants to share good news. Everyone likes to talk about something good in their lives. The best good news is Jesus Christ, how Jesus makes everything in life better. So, our hope is that we can help people learn to share how Jesus works in their lives with family, friends, and people they encounter.”

Katie Dawson put it this way: “We really want to see people inspired and encouraged in evangelism, to understand that what we’re doing is initiating a conversation with another person about the big questions of life. Our role is to invite another other person to tell us about their experience, and to see where God has been present to them.”

Dawson noted how Father Mike Schmitz, who hosts the podcast called “The Bible in a Year,” sees evangelization. “Father Mike Schmitz says we do not impose our belief on others, we propose a vision of life that we find to be life-giving,” she said. “The idea is we’re not imposing a body of belief on people; we’re proposing a vision of life that has brought us joy and happiness and empowers us to face the challenges of life.”

This year the theme of the Evangelize Now conference is “Ignite: Our Faith, Our Mission.”

“We really want to convey that idea of catching fire from the Holy Spirit, knowing that when Jesus meets the disciples on the road in Emmaus their hearts are burning, and in Pentecost there are flames of fire,” said Dawson. “There is a gigantic association of fire with the Holy Spirit. We really want everyone to experience that Holy Spirit movement, to go out and catch fire.”

The 2022 Evangelize Now Conference event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Christ Cathedral Campus, 13280 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove. Admission is free. For more information, a schedule of events and to register, visit https://rcbo.org/evangelize-now/