Catholic Christian Outreach co-founder Angele Regnier presents a class on CCO faith study materials at Saint Paul University's Summer Institute of New Evangelization.

New evangelization program launched at Saint Paul's University

By 
  • August 18, 2014

OTTAWA - A summer course on new evangelization at Saint Paul University has given Shauna Healey lessons and confidence to better know and share her faith.

She was among an inaugural class of 35 students who completed SPU's Summer Institute of New Evangelization,  a two-week course held Aug. 4-15 to better equip Catholics to spread the Gospel.

“I took this course because I definitely wanted to learn more about my faith,” said Healey, 50, who attends Blessed Sacrament Parish in Ottawa. “I went through a conversion about 10 years ago. It just keeps snowballing and getting bigger and my desire to know more to be able to maybe share the faith more effectively was the big reason for coming.”

The part-time supply teacher said she hopes she can use the information she has gained for parish renewal by “focusing on bringing people to be able to discover a relationship with Jesus.”

For Healey, it’s about making people feel welcome. 

“It’s about going out and getting the unchurched because we can’t contain everything within the walls,” she said. “The Church is there, but it’s outside the walls (of the Church) where we have to get people and we have to show them the love of Jesus so they will want to come and receive the sacraments.”

SPU, which offers summer institutes on pastoral liturgy and religious education, had approached Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) about doing an institute on the new evangelization. CCO then contacted Michael Dopp, who founded Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, to direct the summer program. The course gives participants an opportunity to gain a university credit that is transferable to most universities in Canada, he said.

Thirty-five students took part in the first session. About a third are seeking the university credit, and the rest will receive a certificate in new evangelization. About half the students joined the two-weeks of classroom instruction online. It's a three-year program that concludes in 2016.

Year A included an introduction to the new evangelization taught by Dopp and brought in experts to teach on: the Kerygma; sharing one’s testimony; and faith and culture. CCO leaders presented classes on CCO resources for evangelization. The students also received an introduction to a theology for the evangelization, Dopp said.

Future years will include a look at: the history of missions; evangelizing in a postmodern culture; parish renewal; leadership for evangelization; the charisms of various movements within the Church (such as Cursillo, Light of the World, CCO, and Challenge); and personal charisms from the Holy Spirit and “how those can better equip us for sharing our faith,” said Dopp.

“It’s grown my heart for evangelization and my conviction for going out and proclaiming the Gospel and inviting people to respond,” said Talitha Lemoine, 31, who attended after having served as a CCO missionary on university campuses for the past eight years. She is now working out of CCO headquarters in Ottawa.

A native of St. Boniface, Man., who spent the last five years working in Quebec, Lemoine said she learned a lot about parish renewal in the course. “I haven’t had as much experience in seeing renewal in parishes as I have on campus.”

She said she was excited about learning about tools and resources that can help with renewal.

“The most important thing is we first of all have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ, with the person of Jesus,” she said. Too often people assume that everyone in a parish is “already converted” and has a personal relationship with Jesus. “But that’s not the reality.”

“So we really need to focus our energy on how to present the Gospel message simply and invite people to respond because that is what will transform their lives and renew the Church and the world,” she said.

“I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but everything I learned in this course gave me a lot more information, a lot more resources, a lot more of a base, an evangelistic base,” said Corey Jolly, 37, who works for the Montreal archdiocese as a lay evangelist and interfaith liaison, a position created four months ago by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd. 

“Now I feel like I have the Church backing me up, I have the saints and what they’ve done, learning what the saints have done, what the pope's encyclicals from generations have said, about the great commission,” Jolly said. 

The training has given him confidence and made him realize evangelization is his duty. “Being Catholic means to evangelize,” he said.

Jolly said the course will help him be more secure in his faith in his interfaith work. “I feel like I’ve grown spiritually in these two weeks, from the daily prayer and the daily mass, but also just from the teachings from the various teachers.” 

“I can’t wait to go back and invite,” he said. “Not so much to try out but to invite. I think I’ve been given a wealth of knowledge and a great resource.”

Dopp said the course attracted a diverse group of students. A couple of Franciscan sisters from the Kamloops Diocese came. They are missionaries from the Philippines working with native Canadians in a Kamloops parish, he said.

Some were lay people who “wanted to be more effective instruments in their parish and in their neighbourhood with their friends,” he said. 

The course also attracted those already committed to the work of evangelizations, including some CCO missionaries, the director of evangelization at the Vancouver archdiocese, an employee from the Hamilton diocese and the Catholic representative working for Alpha Canada, Dopp said.

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