Archdiocese Local Special Issue - Convocation

Cultivate the fire of evangelization

Father Agustino Torres, CFR, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal from the Bronx, New York, encouraged delegates to answer the call to evangelize in his keynote speech. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Joe Bollig

The big hood hanging down the back is the most recognizable feature of a Franciscan habit — and Father Agustino Torres, CFR, used it to good effect.

“One word [of Scripture] that I really want to share, that touched my heart,” he said, reaching back into his hood and pulling out a Bible . . .

The Enflame delegates roared with laughter.

“You guys are just jealous, that’s what it is,” he said, looking at some Benedictines from Atchison. “We’ve got some Benedictines here. You guys just need a bigger hoodie.”

Father Agustino’s habit was not the traditional Franciscan brown, but gray. He’s a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal from the Bronx, New York. One of his ministries is evangelization, and it was no coincidence that he gave the final Enflame convocation keynote on Friday, Oct. 4 — the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

He started with a reading from the Book of Jeremiah: “But when I say I will forget the Lord and no longer speak in his name, then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back” (20:9).

Often, we feel we are too insignificant to evangelize, he said, but this fire welling up within us is something we need to cultivate.

“My prayer for you is that fire burns to the point you can’t help yourself [but to evangelize],” said Father Agustino.

Sometimes that burning comes at the precise time when it’s most difficult, or it goes against what we think we’re supposed to do.

“But if it is of the Lord . . . I implore you, go, speak, rise up, follow, lead, whatever it is,” he said. “If it is of the Lord, let that fire burn.”

Father Agustino offered five things the delegates could do immediately that would allow that fire to burn within them so they can share it in their communities.

One: Have a “never stop” mentality of tirelessness to evangelize.

Near the end of his life and fruitful ministry on earth, St. Francis told his followers, “Let us begin again, because up to now we have done little.”

Two: Enter into “eucharistic amazement.”

Our response should be a wholehearted return to a true veneration, love, respect and relationship to Our Lord in the Eucharist.

Three: Love the poor.

Personally serve the poor. When you have that love for the poor, you are seeing them not as someone in need, but as if you are looking at Jesus.

Four: Be pierced as was the Lord.

St. Francis so loved and identified with Jesus that his wounds appeared on the saint’s body. Our sufferings, when united with Christ, can become a means of grace for others. Embrace your suffering every day.

Five: Discover joy.

The Lord will do signs and wonders in our lives, and for these we should have joy. It’s a joy that can’t be contained.

“St. Francis lived this,” said Father Agustino. “His time in the church was very difficult, [but] he helped to set his community on fire.

“This is our call.”

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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