Evangelization is an uncomfortable word, one that a lot of us have heard and perhaps do not understand.
However, Jesus teaches us that evangelization is the primary mission of the Catholic Church and, as Catholics, we need to learn to become comfortable with evangelizing or perhaps get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Evangelization comes from the Greek word “evangelium,” which means the “good news.” The suffix “-ization” means the act or process or result of making something. So in other words, evangelization is the act or process of making the good news about Jesus known to others. Evangelization is “goodnewsization”!
Pope Paul VI taught us: “Evangelization is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize” (“Evangelic Nuntiandi,” 14). While these words apply to the church universal, they also apply to each of us individually as Catholics. As Catholics, evangelization is our primary vocation.
The need is great! Recent studies have indicated that as many as 1 in 10 Americans is a fallen-away or non-practicing Catholic. If these former Catholics were to constitute one denomination, it would represent the second or third largest denomination in the United States. Seventy-one percent of those who have stopped practicing the Catholic faith said the primary reason they left was because they were not being fed.
Of the Catholics who remain, as many as half are unsure if God is personal, and a full one-third are certain that God is not personal. That means that as many as one in three Catholics who are coming to church with at least monthly regularity do not believe that you can have a personal relationship with God!
It is into this situation in our country and even within our own parishes that we as Catholics are called to make the good news of Jesus Christ known! The new mission field is our own homes, our extended families, our places of work, and even our own parishes.
In my opinion, one of the greatest needs of evangelization is among our post- college-aged young adults. If you look around at your church, you will see very few folks in there mid-20s to early 30s. One of our responsibilities is to reach out to young adults.
St. Paul’s Outreach has been helping us do just that! SPO has worked to establish an outreach in Kansas City called missionKC. This outreach hosts weekly events for Catholic young adults through Trust One Greater, Theology on Tap, Fan Into Flame retreats, Band of Brothers, small groups, and Catholic formation.
To learn more, contact Sam Schoenfelder by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. To sup- port the work of SPO in the archdiocese, contact me by email at: email@example.com.