Today’s mission of evangelization remains nothing less than what the Church has always sought – to invigorate the Faith where it exists and to ignite the Faith where it doesn’t.
In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, two exciting services are under way to help our parishes and schools become more effective agents of evangelization: the Contagiously Catholic Parish Alliance and the School of Faith.
The Parish Alliance is a mentoring program designed to catalyze parish-based evangelization, arming parish leadership with inspiration and strategic skills. Its resources are offered free of cost to parishes, courtesy of funding by the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal.
The School of Faith, which likewise receives CMA funds, is an ambitious catechetical ministry providing formation for Catholic school staff, emphasizing virtue and prayer as the foundation of Catholic culture in our schools.
These two programs represent “a great expenditure of resources,” said Sean Ater, director of the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization, which oversees both ministries.
Mr. Ater’s office developed the Parish Alliance in association with the Evangelical Catholic. The service includes weeklong evangelization training camps and online training.
“The Parish Alliance is a process where we partner with a parish and invest a lot of time with the parish staff so they can implement New Evangelization process,” Mr. Ater said. “The process is equipping the laity to evangelize. We train people to lead small groups off the parish grounds, at home, at work, in coffee shops with their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. These are people who aren’t coming to our programs on the parish grounds, so we’re flipping the model. We’re meeting them where they are.
“This equips parishioners to become missionary disciples, to change lives through the outreach efforts.”
The commitment of time, funding, and energy requires that only a few parishes can benefit at a time. Current participants are the Coldwater Cluster north of Dayton, St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Township, and Our Lady of Grace/Queen of Martyrs, Dayton.
The School of Faith, meanwhile, has been established at Purcell Marian High School and five elementaries: Our Lady of the Visitation (Cincinnati), St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Milford), St. Ignatius Loyola (Monfort Heights), St. James (White Oak), and St. Jude (Bridgetown). Three more will come aboard next year: La Salle High School and elementaries Immaculate Heart of Mary (Anderson Township) and St. Margaret of York (Twenty Mile Stand).
Mr. Ater calls the School of Faith “a discipleship process of the entire faculty.” It includes a monthly retreat on-site, as well as a Holy Land pilgrimage for a small group of teachers and administrators. “Everybody’s learning and praying together,” he said.
Both the School of Faith and Parish Alliance “will be integral to the Catechetical Institute as part of how schools and parishes fill some of the requirements for certification,” Mr. Ater said. The Institute is made possible by benefactors of One Faith, One Hope, One Love.
Early results from the evangelical ministries have been “really, really encouraging,” Mr. Ater said. “We’re already getting stories of lives changing.