Michael Dopp, co-founder of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

New Evangelization Summit changes tack in time of Church scandal

  • March 15, 2019

OTTAWA – When Cardinal Gerald Lacroix speaks at the New Evangelization Summit here May 4, he will address how to share the Good News when the Church is engulfed in bad news.

“I have asked him to speak about evangelizing today in light of the scandals that have shaken the Church,” said Michael Dopp, co-founder with his wife Linda of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries and organizer of the annual event that launched in 2015. It now reaches thousands at the host venue in Ottawa and 54 satellite sites across North America.

“We have to evangelize today and the scandal impacts that,” Dopp said. “The corporate witness of the Church has been impacted, the reputation of the Church, the view people have of Catholics and Catholicism has been degraded. 

“So part of the summit is we have to face those questions and address how do we evangelize to the world today, not how it was 1,600 years ago, or 100 years or two years ago.”

Dopp said he also intends to speak on that topic.

“Three of the other speakers will be speaking about effective evangelization initiatives that are working now,” he said.

After the sex abuse scandals erupted last summer, the Dopps began thinking about how attendees could leave the summit “really encouraged in their faith,” he said. “But it seemed so heavy, so much bad news.”

“Many Catholics are feeling a profound disappointment, discouragement and frustration,” said Dopp. “We don’t want to pretend this is not serious, real and relevant.”

He believes it is “encouraging” for Catholics to assemble “with other good, faithful men and women.”

“I really see the summit as a time where people can re-connect with the beauty of the body of Christ and be encouraged by each other,” he said.

In a reversal from previous years, the Dopps have made the event free to attend in order to attract as many people as possible this year. They hope to finance the event through sponsor revenue and through partnerships with supporters.

“When we were praying through at the time of the scandal, it is what I felt the Lord was asking us to do,” Dopp said. “Obviously, there’s a big risk in it.”

As usual, the summit features several top-notch speakers with great track records in evangelization. In addition to Lacroix, Michele Thompson and Fr. Jon Bielawski, co-developers of the Genesis Mission, a parish renewal program that has spread across the Plymouth diocese in the United Kingdom, will speak about their project. It aims to “raise up a new generation of people who have a deep and integrated sense of discipleship,” according to the summit website.

“We aspire to create habit and tradition and a shift in culture that will deeply and permanently affect Catholic Christians for generations to come, sending people out as Agents of Life and Change into a world of desperate need,” says the NewEvangelization.ca website.

Another featured speaker from the U.K. is Michelle Moran, who with her husband Peter are founder members of the Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism. Moran is the author of several books on evangelization and served as president of the International Charismatic Renewal Services from 2008 to 2016.

Fr. James Mallon of Halifax, author of Divine Renovation: From Maintenance to Mission and other books about his successful parish renewal program, is making a return appearance.

The Dopps decided to make this year’s summit a one-day event to make it easier on the host sites. Since host sites are often churches, sometimes the Friday night segment of the summit conflicted with other parish events.

Dopp expects 750 people at the main Ottawa location, with registrations filling up fast. The 54 satellite locations are located across Canada and in several American states, as well as Guatemala city.  

There may be a few more host sites “trickling in,” he said.

Although the event is free, registration is required. For information visit newevangelization.ca.

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