by Joe Bollig
The mission of the church has always been to evangelize, said Father Gary Pennings at the opening of the “Enflame Our Hearts: Be Disciples, Make Disciples” convocation.
But now the church must learn to announce the good news with a new ardor, new methods and new expressions — a new evangelization, he said.
More than 1,500 delegates from every parish in the archdiocese were there to be equipped and inspired at the three-day event, and then return home to evangelize.
“Archbishop Naumann has called us as leaders of this local church together in this convocation for prayer, dialogue and prayerful listening,” said Father Pennings, chairman of the convocation planning committee.
“He’s called us to build a culture of evangelization across northeastern Kansas,” he added, “and that’s no easy task.”
The church has always been called to share Christ’s message, but it must announce the Gospel anew to every generation.
Throughout the convocation, he told the delegates, they would go through three progressions.
The first would be to focus on their own heart.
“As my heart is transformed by my encounter with divine love, my encounter with Christ, how can I not share this experience with others?” he asked. “Our first prayer is: Enflame Our Hearts.”
The second focus would be on the family — our own homes, or what is often referred to as the domestic church.
“As individual hearts are transformed, homes and families change,” said Father Pennings. “We are speaking of family homes, yes, but also parish homes . . . [So], our second prayer is: Enflame Our Homes.”
The third progression of the flame will be from home to community.
“The church has a single intention,” said Father Pennings, “that God’s kingdom may come and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass.
“Our third prayer is: Enflame Our Communities.”
“For each of these three progressions — heart, home and community — we will explore ways and methods to create opportunities for the Holy Spirit to bring his transformative fire,” continued Father Pennings. “We invite you to be open to God’s inspiration while you are here.
“Let us welcome the Holy Spirit as we pray, study and plan together. Let us entrust ourselves to that same Holy Spirit so that our hearts, our homes and our communities may indeed be enflamed with the joy of the Gospel.”