On amission ofmercy: Evangelising Parishes

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1 national conference on the new evangelisation PROCLAIM On amission ofmercy: Evangelising Parishes FORMING EVANGELISATION TEAMS: BEST PRACTICE FOR EFFECTIVE MISSION Workshop by Most Reverend Nicholas Hudson Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster Workshop Abstract Evangelising the Unchurched ; Reaching out to Non-churchgoing Catholics ; Evangelising Young People ; Becoming a Poor Church for the Poor : whatever aspect of Evangelisation we wish to embark upon, it requires conscientious discernment. It requires a team, a Parish Evangelisation Team, to coordinate such an initiative. The Gospels teach us, says Bishop Nicholas, that discipleship requires us to move from asking Who is my neighbour? and What more can I do? to considering Who are my partners? and How do we organise ourselves for mission? In this workshop, he will lead a process to guide parishes to start organising themselves for mission. The workshop will consider many aspects of forming a Parish Evangelisation Team: Who should be involved in deciding membership of a Team? How do we approach them? What kind of diversity is legitimate and welcome? What qualifications are required? What are its terms of reference? From there he will move on to consider how to develop the Team: How do we deepen the Team s prayer-life? What training can be given? How does the Team discern new Evangelising priorities? Does a chosen initiative require specific formation? How does the Team communicate with the Parish? Pope Francis calls us, in the Joy of the Gospel, to make our parishes completely mission-oriented (EG 28). Forming Evangelisation Teams is where we start.

2 1. WELCOME & INTRODUCTION So this workshop is about Forming Evangelisation Teams; and also about best practice. You ll all come to it with various experiences of belonging to teams teams charged with a task to fulfil for the good of the Church. If you re anything like me, your experience of working with teams will be varied: some of it excellent, other aspects of it very poor. I d ask you to hold onto what was good; hold it before yourselves as we consider how we apply that experience to organising ourselves for effective evangelisation. I come at this from having spent eight years leading a collaborative team responsible for catechesis and evangelisation across half of London and Kent. And we were truly collaborative: male and female, celibate and married, lay, religious and ordained. We aimed to model the kind of collaboration which we were encouraging in parishes. I m convinced we need to take a similarly collaborative approach to Evangelisation in parishes. Hence the Workshop. I m going to be saying a lot about who should be in the Team. But as well as considering the who, I shall be considering with you the what as well because what gives energy to the Team is doing Evangelisation. If the Team is the vehicle, then the fuel is Evangelisation itself. I think a good dose of brainstorming brainstorming about Evangelising possibilities gets people energised quickly. So that s where we re going to start. We re going start with brainstorming Evangelising possibilities for your own parish. 2. EXERCISE I Note: all handouts can be found at the end of this workshop section HOW TO PROCLAIM MERCY 1. TAKE UP HANDOUT A: WORKS OF MERCY 2. ON YOUR OWN: CIRCLE any Works of Mercy which your parish is already doing. Consider Evangelising Activities which may suggest themselves in the light of these Works of Mercy. Do this in 2 steps: (i) ASK yourself what Evangelising Activities you do well already: write some of these in the top bubbles. (ii) ASK what more Evangelising Initiatives the Lord may be asking of you: write some of these in the lower bubbles. 3. WITH TWO PEOPLE EACH FROM DIFFERENT PARISHES: SHARE what you wrote on your sheet; and tell the others briefly why you chose to write this. TAKE UP HANDOUT B: WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY & HANDOUT C: WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO WRITE on HANDOUT B: WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY, two most significant Evangelising Activities for each parish. CIRCLE the Works of Mercy these activities address. WRITE on HANDOUT C: WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO, two suggested Evangelising Initiatives for each parish. CIRCLE the Works of Mercy these activities address September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 33

3 Whatever aspect of Evangelisation we are going to embark upon requires this kind of discernment. This is an exercise you could do with your Parish Pastoral Council or equivalent first of all, so as to get them enthused. It will certainly bear repeating with your Parish Evangelisation Team (PET) once you have this. It reminds us there are really two aspects to organising ourselves for Evangelisation. The way I would put it is this. The first is to ask ourselves, Who is my neighbour? The second is to ask, Who are my partners? The second reminds us we can t do Evangelisation alone. Pope Francis puts it very well when he says, in Evangelii Gaudium (EG): The important thing is not to walk alone but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters in a wise and pastoral discernment. (33) And, of course, Jesus himself relied on a team model himself. He called the apostles together as a group in order to help him realise his mission. They were his Evangelisation Team. So it s time to ask the key question: How do we form a Parish Evangelisation Team? 3. INPUT I d like us to address this with the help of a resource which arose from our own national Proclaim conference in Birmingham last summer. It has a section on PETs; and offers ten tips which I think bear considering. The Tips begin with a good quote from Pope Francis, when he says, in Evangelii Gaudium, Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelisers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. These Tips are designed to do just that: help us mature in our work as evangelisers. Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelisers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. (EG 121) Getting Started Take time to consider who should be involved in deciding the membership and purpose of the evangelisation team. A small group, led or nominated by the parish priest or the deacon, should meet to pray together before selecting the evangelisation team and deciding what their remit might be. Time and prayer is obviously key. A small group should pray for guidance in how to gather together a team. At the appropriate moment, the whole parish should be asked to engage in prayer for this discernment. The housebound in particular should be harnessed to this task. It can be helpful to print a prayer card for the whole parish. Take time to consider who should be involved in deciding the membership and purpose of the evangelisation team Take time 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 34

4 Pray together Strength in Diversity Jesus chose diverse people not only the usual suspects who are already busy. Recruit people from all walks of life whose disposition is positive, encouraging and whose prayer is sincere. Your aim should be to gather an apostolic twelve. The group needs to be this large so as to bear fall-out or absences and still feel substantial. If others offer their services because they ve heard a group is gathering, meet with them and keep them in reserve: some members may change their mind about belonging. It s important that the team represent a broad cross-section of the parish with a good male-female balance; a range of ages; different ethnic types; different liturgical preferences; different spiritualities. It may be helpful to consider some additional criteria as well: (And here I d like to acknowledge the Southwark Archdiocese s Handbook for Parish Teams (available at as a very helpful source of ideas.) Previously lapsed Catholic Younger parishioner(s) Administrative & computer skills Creative & imaginative New convert Deacon, religious and/or consecrated Professional Family man /woman (both) Is the proposed team member: Practising & enthusiastic about being a Catholic Committed to prayer Formed in the basics of the Catholic Faith Able to work in a team Able to learn & listen & trust Able to empathise Committed, and able to give time Willing to share their faith with others Willing to do as well as plan and think Aware of what is being asked of them Has a sense of humour Jesus chose diverse people not only the usual suspects who are already busy. Recruit people from all walks of life whose disposition is positive, encouraging and whose prayer is sincere Choose diverse people From all walks of life 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 35

5 Missionary Conscience Recognise the difference between enabling the parish to become mission-focused, and the temptation to form a small group of evangelisers. Be clear that you are a team who will become the mission conscience of the parish community, promoting and enabling everyone and everything to be more outward-facing and missionary in its intentions. I find this phrase, mission conscience, very powerful. Paul Cannon and Sharon Beech describe the PET as the evangelising conscience of the parish: Hopefully, they say, members will see that they are to be, in a very gentle way, the evangelising conscience of the parish, constantly asking the question, What does this have to do with evangelisation? (Welcome to Witness, Becoming an Evangelising Parish, 53) The point is that you are looking for people who are going to help the parish grow in its awareness about Evangelisation: not people who are going to say, We shouldn t be doing that but rather, Wouldn t it be more evangelising if we did this? Missionfocused Mission conscience A Personal Invitation Invite people to the team with a specific and unique calling, highlighting the reason for your decision as a recognition of a person s particular gifts. The invitation isn t casual or to anyone who is available. Choose people for whom this would be their primary contribution to parish life, rather than one thing among many others. Included in this conversation should be pointing out that: One is asking members to commit to a specific term: two or three years seems advisable. This would allow for a discussion at the start of the second year as to whether any members felt able to commit to a third; and that way a roll-over process could begin. There would also be a need to clarify as to how often the group meets: perhaps once a month for ten months of the year. The vision is collaborative: while the priest is an essential member of the Team, he may delegate that leadership to a parishioner The PET will have a direct relationship to the PPC. It is not envisaged that the Team will do all the work and implementation but that they will create a five-point evangelisation plan, inviting and encouraging fellow parishioners to help implement it. Invite people to the team with a specific and unique calling, highlighting the reason for your decision as a recognition of a person s particular gifts. The invitation isn t casual or to anyone who is available Choose people for whom this would be their primary contribution to parish life, rather than one thing among many others Specific and unique calling 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 36

6 Primary contribution A Personal Encounter The primary qualification for participation in the work of evangelisation is a personal prayer life, which has led to an encounter and daily relationship with Jesus. This living relationship will be expressed differently in different people. The sharing of moments of personal encounter with Christ should be encouraged in the conversation and narrative of the team. The primary qualification for participation in the work of evangelisation is a personal prayer life, which has led to an encounter and daily relationship with Jesus As EG 264 says, The primary reason for evangelising is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. Pope Francis is clear that it is only if we root ourselves in a daily personal encounter with God in prayer that we can be missionary. This is why prayer should be a significant part of each meeting. A PET should make an annual retreat together at least one day every year. Encounter and daily relationship with Jesus Sharing moments of personal encounter EXERCISE: HALF WAY THROUGH THE TIPS, TURN TO YOUR NEIGHBOUR & ASK WHAT RESONATED MOST DEEPLY & WHY? 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 37

7 Have No Secrets Be consistent in your efforts to communicate the purpose of the team and its membership to the whole parish community, avoiding any secrecy or mystery. The team s very existence is part of a shift in parish culture and needs to be widely known, understood, appreciated and prayed for. It could be that, once a PET has been called, that there be an open meeting at which a vision of Evangelisation is presented and the thinking about the choice of a Team is communicated. Be consistent in your efforts to communicate the purpose of the team and its membership to the whole parish community, avoiding any secrecy or mystery Communicate the purpose of the team The team s existence needs to be widely known Formation Matters Ensure that a period of carefully prepared formation is given to your Evangelisation Team. Spend time looking for appropriate resources to help inspire and ignite it. Bring in speakers who can motivate and excite. Ensure that the team learns to pray together, eat together, and reflects together upon sections of Pope Francis Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. This calls for discernment as to whether you have the resources within your community or, more likely, that you need to call on help from outside. I would advise that, for the most part, you seek formation from outside. It need not be too demanding but the aim should be that it enrich, inspire and deepen. One might consider a 6-session course looking at: The Praying Parish The Listening Parish The Parish: a people with Mission Ensure that a period of carefully prepared formation is given to your Evangelisation Team. Spend time looking for appropriate resources to help inspire and ignite it. Bring in speakers who can motivate and excite. Ensure that the team learns to pray together, eat together, and reflects together upon sections of Pope Francis Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 38

8 Faith & Life in the Parish The Parish: called to Serve The Parish: the people of the Kingdom of God i.e. Prayer Contextualisation Theology of Mission Spirituality Carefully prepared formation Service Theology of the Kingdom This formation should draw extensively from EG, MV & the four Apostolic Constitutions of Vatican II. It might also include formation in Ecumenism and on inclusion of the poor and PWD. There may also be a need for specific formation on particular Evangelising Activities; e.g. learning about programmes which help reach out to non-churchgoing Catholics or Interfaith Dialogue. Prayer should have a significant amount of formation: teaching the team how to pray as a team, in small groups and individually. Learning how to pray and how to talk about prayer empowers PET members to talk with others about prayer and spirituality. Formation matters: Mallon asks not only his team but all his parishioners each to commit to a formation course every year. Pray together, eat together, and reflect together Tell Your Story Include in the period of formation some opportunities for team members to reflect upon their personal faith experiences and also some time for these experiences to be shared. This need not be intimidating for team members. But there is power in hearing of others faith journey. It empowers you to tell your own; and that may lead you to share your faith with others. Include in the period of formation some opportunities for team members to reflect upon their personal faith experiences and also some time for these experiences to be shared Opportunities to reflect upon personal faith experiences 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 39

9 Video: FIONA MANSFORD VIDEO: HOW TO SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY 2ND VIDEO ON THE PAGE 15-Building-Missionary-Parishes/Evangelisation-Resources/5.- Testimonies (Segment of video) Time for experiences to be shared Ongoing Discernment Discernment is not only the starting point but an ongoing feature of the life of the team. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Are we the right people to be doing it? To this end, ensure the team maintains an openness to new ways of doing things, is in touch with people outside the parish and recognises that mistakes can be learnt from. This amounts to being committed to review. A sense of planning for replacement members is wise. A discerning ethos suggests also conscientious discernment of how developments in Evangelisation will be communicated to the parish. Some parishes find an Evangelisation newsletter is helpful: it enables the Team to express their vision in the way they choose. Discernment is not only the starting point but an ongoing feature of the life of the team. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Are we the right people to be doing it? To this end, ensure the team maintains an openness to new ways of doing things, is in touch with people outside the parish and recognises that mistakes can be learnt from Discernment an ongoing feature Openness to new ways 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 40

10 Mercy Comes First Resist negative or judgemental dispositions. Be quick to forgive fellow team members and those to whom you are trying to evangelise! This is about creating a good ethos. It is helped if the leader has the courage to say, for example, and if necessary, We don t always listen to each other as well as we might or we sometimes criticise an individual without acknowledging that we have just done that and could perhaps redeem ourselves by saying something positive about him or her as well. A commitment to a time of prayer within each meeting will lead naturally to praying together about those whom we evangelise with and those whom we seek to evangelise; and this informs and forms ethos. One additional tip would be about Finance. The parish will need to budget for certain Evangelising Initiatives, and you need to make sure that this is discussed at the appropriate moment. Resist negative or judgemental dispositions. Be quick to forgive fellow team members and those to whom you are trying to evangelise! Resist negative dispositions Be quick to forgive 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 41

11 4. EXERCISE II DISCUSS TEN TIPS 1. TAKE UP HANDOUT D: TEN TIPS 2. ON YOUR OWN: MARK the two Tips which you consider the most important. ASK yourself why you would make these Tips a priority 3. WITH THE SAME TWO PEOPLE AS BEFORE: SHARE the Tips you chose and explain why you would make them a priority ASK yourselves which Tips you find most challenging 5. FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS 6. EXERCISE III CHOOSING WORKS OF MERCY You will have to choose Evangelising Initiatives. Bear in mind EG: A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory The important thing is not to walk alone but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and pastoral discernment. (33) The list of Resources being shown as you walked into the room are designed to serve two purposes. The first is to let you know that these are areas of Evangelisation on which there are great number of resources which have been gathered together on the Proclaim 15 website. The second is to get us thinking of categories of Evangelisation we may not have yet considered or which may act as umbrella for activities which we are feeling called to develop. Let s just remind ourselves of what they were September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 42

12 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 43

13 The first exercise we did was an exercise in taking stock and brainstorming possibilities. The next step will be to see more clearly which of these many ideas you wish to make a priority. It can help to list them under specific categories. 1. TAKE UP AGAIN HANDOUT B: WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY & HANDOUT C: WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO 2. IN THE SAME THREES AS BEFORE: LOOK AGAIN at the 6 Evangelising Activities you listed under WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY. LOOK AGAIN at the 6 Evangelising Initiatives you listed under WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO. DISCUSS whether you would keep them or change some of them. NOW TAKE UP HANDOUT E: CHOOSING CATEGORIES LIST your 12 chosen Evangelising Activities and Initiatives under the 5 Areas of Evangelisation, in the columns marked WHAT WE WISH TO MAKE A PRIORITY You should have 12 per trio or more than 12 if one Activity or Initiative appears under several categories. 7. FINAL QUESTIONS 8. CONCLUDING REMARKS African proverb: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 44

14 HANDOUT A: W O R K S OF M E R C Y CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY EVANGELISING ACTIVITIES PROCLAIM SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY FEED THE HUNGRY WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY INSTRUCT GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY ADVISE WELCOME THE STRANGER WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY CONSOLE CLOTHE THE NAKED EVANGELISING INITIATIVES COMFORT CARE FOR THE SICK WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO FORGIVE VISIT THOSE IN PRISON BURY THE DEAD WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO BEAR WRONGS PATIENTLY 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 45

15 HANDOUT B: WO R K S OF M E R C Y CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY EVANGELISING ACTIVITIES PROCLAIM SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY FEED THE HUNGRY WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY INSTRUCT GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY ADVISE WELCOME THE STRANGER WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY CONSOLE CLOTHE THE NAKED COMFORT CARE FOR THE SICK WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY FORGIVE VISIT THOSE IN PRISON BURY THE DEAD WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY WHAT WE DO WELL ALREADY BEAR WRONGS PATIENTLY 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 46

16 HANDOUT C: W O R K S OF M E R C Y CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY EVANGELISING INITIATIVES WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO PROCLAIM SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY FEED THE HUNGRY INSTRUCT GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO ADVISE WELCOME THE STRANGER WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO CONSOLE CLOTHE THE NAKED COMFORT CARE FOR THE SICK WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO FORGIVE VISIT THOSE IN PRISON WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO BEAR WRONGS PATIENTLY BURY THE DEAD WHAT MORE WE MIGHT DO 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 47

17 HANDOUT D: TOP TEN TIPS 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 48

18 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 49

19 NEW EVANGELISTIC OUTREACH WHAT PROCLAIM HANDOUT E: CHOOSING CATEGORIES WE WISH PRAYER CARITAS FAITH FORMATION MARRIAGE & FAMILY LIFE TO WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WE WISH WE WISH WE WISH WE WISH TO TO TO TO MAKE A MAKE A MAKE A MAKE A PRIORITY PRIORITY PRIORITY PRIORITY MAKE A PRIORITY 1-3 September National Conference on the New Evangelisation 50

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