After Pope Francis returned in March from a retreat with members of the Curia, he thanked the friar who prepared the meditations: “Sometimes, the simplest words are the ones that help us, or the more complicated ones: to everyone, the Lord gives us the right word.”
Pope Francis advises us to openly share our faith. “The Church is the salt of the earth, she is the light of the world,” the Holy Father says. “She is called to make present in society the heaven of the Kingdom of God and she does this primarily with her witness, the witness of brotherly love, of solidarity and of sharing with others.”
Indeed, Pope Francis has praised some popular movements and retreats, noting that they have the power to reach Catholics with a dual message of commitment and belonging. The only pope who has had firsthand experience with the Charismatic Renewal, he noted in a 2014 Mass that, “If we close ourselves in formality, our prayer becomes cold and sterile… David’s prayer of praise brought him to leave all form of composure and dance in front of the Lord with all his strength. This is the prayer of praise!”
Movements and retreats in the Diocese of Orange include institutional programs and ministries that share God’s love with everyone, especially Catholics who doubt their faith, those who have fallen away from the Church and individuals who seek the personal blessings that Christ brings.
Cursillo is an apostolic movement of the Catholic Church founded in Spain in 1944 as a technique to train Christian pilgrimage leaders. The three-day movement operates in several denominations.
“In a very simple way, Cursillo brings people closer to Christ,” explains George Balch, director of Pastoral Center Services, who leads the Orange County Cursillo organizations with lay director Nick Williams. “The Cursillo experience and way of life changes your life and moves it into a direction toward Christ.”
Williams cautions that Cursillo isn’t only a retreat. “There is a method employed to keep us involved with the aspects of our faith; piety, prayers and study of the faith; and evangelization and apostolic action. We encourage people to go out and witness and bring people closer to Christ.”
Care of creation
Upon distribution of the papal encyclical Laudato Si, or “Praise be to you”, the Diocese and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange held a forum on the care for creation.
Climate ambassadors, representatives from Catholic Relief Services, and parish advocates for the poor discussed the disproportional effects of climate change on the world’s poor. They advocated global evangelization to let the world know that the Church cares about this issue, notes Greg Walgenbach, director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
Toward that end, the Diocese of Orange website has a printable PDF list of “12 Tweet-able Takeaways from Laudato Si,” featuring one dozen of Pope Francis’s key quotes: “Community actions, when they express self-giving love, can also become intense spiritual experiences.”
The neocatechumenal way is a charism within the Church dedicated to Christian formation. It was formed in Madrid in 1964. The Neocatechumenate provides post-baptismal formation to adults who are already members of the Church, says Santiago Avila, an assistant to Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer.
Avila, who was born into the Neocatechumenate, says the movement deepens his faith and calls his beliefs into action. “It gives me formation I wouldn’t have as a traditional Sunday churchgoer,” he adds. “We scrutinize the Word, study Scripture and use the books of the Church to see our faith in action.”
Jovenes para Cristo
Jovenes Para Cristo works in conjunction with the Church, providing Catholic outreach for youth, including underprivileged and troubled youth. Originally operating within the Diocese of Orange, California JPC’s reach has spread throughout Southern California and into Mexico.
JPC’s objectives are to provide Catholic religious experience to young adults through religious retreats, attendance at meetings, and programs designed to supplement Catholic religious opportunities.