Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., speaks June 13 about the Year of Faith declared for the church by Pope Benedict XVI. The bishop spoke about the 201-2-13 observance during the mid-year meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Atlanta. CNS photo/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin

Year of Faith activities aimed at bringing Catholics closer to Jesus

By  Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service
  • June 15, 2012

ATLANTA - The Year of Faith set to begin in October will give Catholics the chance to experience a "conversion" by turning back to Jesus and entering into a deeper relationship with him, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis said June 13.

Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., told the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that the 2012-13 observance stems from Pope Benedict XVI's call for a new evangelization and will incorporate television, radio, social media and numerous online resources to better connect -- or reconnect -- Catholics with their faith.

Special emphasis will be placed on explaining church teaching through liturgy and prayer, catechetical aids, parish programs, homily guides and online applications and websites. Already weekly posts on Facebook promote the lives of saints and those declared blessed and venerable, while quizzes on the Catechism of the Catholic Church help connect online users with tenets of the faith, Bishop Ricken said.

The Year of Faith opens Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism. It runs through Nov. 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.

Pope Benedict announced the Year of Faith in "Porta Fidei" ("The Door of Faith"), an apostolic letter released Oct. 17, 2011.

The observance envisioned by the pope under his call for a new evangelization does not propose new teachings but is "rather a 're-proposing' of the Gospel to those awaiting a first evangelization and those whose roots of Christianity are deep but have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization," Bishop Ricken said.

The bishops' conference has worked since October to develop numerous resources including apologetic material, brochures related to new evangelization and teaching aids for use by Catholics as well as the general public, he said.

Many of the resources are being developed for Spanish speakers as well, he said.

Bishop Ricken also announced that new online versions of the Catechism of Catholic Church and United States Catholic Catechism for Adults have been posted on the USCCB website. Both documents have interactive features and are searchable by specific terms. Users will be able to bookmark specific passages and will be able to view their selections on tablets and smart phones.

A prayer for the new evangelization as well as intercessions for the Year of Faith also are being developed, Bishop Ricken said.

In line with an initiative of the Vatican that European cities implement a "metropolitan mission" program for Lent 2013, a similar effort is being considered for the United States during the same period. Such missions would include catechesis by local bishops, the availability of the sacrament of reconciliation, devotions and popular piety, spiritual exercises and mission-style programs in local parishes, Bishop Ricken said.

Emphasis also will be placed on assisting families in observing the Year of Faith with prayer services and other catechetical resources, he added.

Bishop Ricken said annual events such as the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington in February and the observance of Respect Life Month in October 2013 also will focus on the Year of Faith.

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