As a young man, when I heard the word evangelization, I thought of far away places where missionaries were preaching the Gospel often at great threat to their lives.
It would never have occurred to me that the word had some connection to me or anyone who was already a believing Catholic. All these years later I now see how evangelization is the very grounding of Catholic life.
Evangelization is the proclaiming of the gospel of salvation, of Jesus Christ. We evangelize by word and by good works. It is the central mission of the Catholic Church and the calling of every disciple of Christ. We might even say that it is one of the measurements of discipleship and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
When the apostles were gathered in the Upper Room they were paralyzed with fear. Christ had been crucified and there was every good reason to believe that they would be arrested next. Then Pentecost happened. Sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles had an irrepressible need to share their experience of Christ. It is this same confidence of faith that every Catholic longs for. Bishop Vann established the Office for Evangelization to provide parishes, ministries and all Catholics with support and resources connected to evangelization. More importantly, it represents a concrete commitment of the Diocese of Orange to foster in all of us a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.
All of us have had friends and family members who have left the Catholic faith. Some leave for another Christian faith, others simply stop going to any church at all. When asked what has happened, the response is often along the lines, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” Suppose to be words of comfort they leave us frustrated and saddened.
The truth is that all of us are tested from time to time. This is an important part of the spiritual life and helps the soul to mature. Often though, the believer can mistakenly think that they are losing faith. Without guidance, they might lose their way and leave the Church. I often think that with a little spiritual support and attention, many people would still be with us and stronger than ever in their faith.
Every October, the Diocese of Orange hosts a one day event on evangelization, Evangelize Now, at Christ Cathedral Campus. We begin with Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Vann accompanied by Bishop Freyer, Bishop Nguyen and attending priests and deacons. At the close of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang. For the rest of the conference, the Blessed Sacrament is in the Large Gallery for private prayer. Three presentations are then given by three presenters in three different languages: English, Vietnamese and Spanish. The day ends at 4 p.m. with Benediction in the Cathedral. The theme for each year centers on evangelization and deepening our commitment to Jesus Christ.
This year, we will welcome Sr. Regina Marie of the Carmelite Sisters of Los Angeles as our speaker in English.
In Spanish, we welcome Fr. Miguel Angel Sanchez, pastor of Christ the King Church in the Archdiocese of Tijuana.
This year, we have a special series of three presentations to our Vietnamese youth and young adult Catholics on dealing with the challenges and frustrations of life. Navigating a path through today’s world can be exhausting. We are blessed to have a team of presenters who will help give our youth advice on how to cope with unique stresses they live under.
Of the many resources and support that are offered through the Office of Evangelization and the Office of Faith Formation, the annual Evangelize Now Conference (formally DMC) is a powerful day of prayer, education and renewal. We invite you to attend on October 15 on the Cathedral Campus.