by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven
How to live the little way of evangelization.
How to help others grow in prayer, eucharistic devotion, Christian friendship and care for the poor.
How to share the Gospel and your testimony.
How to invite others into the mission.
These and more are some of the ideas discussed in the Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ “Foundations for Discipleship,” published this spring.
“Pope Francis said in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) that he dreams of a ‘missionary impulse capable of transforming everything.’ We [at FOCUS] have that same desire to see the world transformed in Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Edward Sri, co-editor. “In this book, we hope to help ordinary Catholics embrace their call to evangelize and to live as missionary disciples. Many people desire to evangelize, but they don’t know where to start.
“The practical tools in this resource can help Catholics get started. Right now, many Catholics . . . are using this book to evangelize others,” he said. “There really isn’t a book like this on the market right now. Many books have great ideas and theories for evangelization, but this book is practical. You can pick this book up, start reading, and then immediately use it to begin having conversations about the faith with others.”
Sri, who co-edited the book with Curtis Martin, said the idea for the book has been in the making for 23 years with FOCUS, with the ministry putting together more concrete ideas in the last few years.
“Many people were involved in creating this book. . . . Curtis and I discussed it many times over the years since FOCUS’ founding and wrestled through the content. Travis Todd and Stephanie Parks, our associate editors, were also a great help in putting it all together,” Sri said. “We also received lots of feedback from our many FOCUS staff to ensure that this resource actually works to help others lead and evangelize their communities.
“This book emerged from our desire to help our missionaries in their work of evangelization. At the same time, we also wanted to share what we have learned in the last 23 years in FOCUS with the rest of the church,” he said. “We want every Catholic to embrace their call to live as a missionary disciple, and we’ve already seen that this book can help people do that. It has worked for others, and we think it can work for anyone.”
Sri said the book has already been used by priests, lay leaders, Catholic schoolteachers, Catholic parents and individual Catholics throughout the country.
“Many pastors are describing how the resources are helping transform the culture at their parishes into a culture of true missionary discipleship,” Sri said. “If someone wants to read the book by themselves and learn from it, that’s great. But this book is especially designed for those who want to begin sharing their faith and helping others grow.
“It is full of articles designed to stimulate conversations with others about the most important aspects of our faith,” he said. “We imagine it being used by two people sitting together in a coffee shop and discussing the topics, for example, or by a moms’ group meeting to grow in the faith.”
Sri said the format of the book even offers space for the reader to take notes.
“We gave a lot of thought to how the book looks and feels. It’s inviting,” Sri said. “It’s more of a tool than a book you sit down and read, and we wanted it to look and feel like that.
“We want people to use it with others in everyday situations to share the faith,” he said. “‘Foundations for Discipleship’ is a tool that you can use to form and accompany others on their journey as Christian disciples.”
The book has received several reviews by clergy and lay leaders from archdioceses throughout the country.
“The ideas of discipleship and evangelization are not second nature to the people in the parish, even the ones who are most committed. I’m so thankful that there is finally a very practical resource like this to lead parishioners to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ and train them in the basic skills of evangelization,” said Father John Jirak, pastor of Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. “Through these easy-to-use articles, parishioners are not only growing personally in prayer and holiness, but they are training others to accompany, evangelize and live as missionary disciples themselves.”
For more information, quantity discounts or to purchase the book, go to: focus.org/foundations.