“Hopefully, we’ll begin to make inroads with folks on the parish level that they get a primer on evangelization such that they can think strategically, short , medium and long term on evangelization strategies,” said Rich Harter, director of the office of evangelization, noting the office will do follow-up training and provide resources.
In addition to six evangelization training sessions to which parishes have been invited to send people, the archdiocese plans to sponsor two retreat days during Lent 2013 based on the Year of Faith. These will be open to anyone in the archdiocese. Two other retreats – one for Spanish speaking Catholics and another targeted to a group that includes college age Catholics, as well as those in their 20s and 30s – are planned.
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“They’re tied in to the key themes and invitations in the letter from the pope (in which he announced the Year of Faith on Oct. 11, 2011), inviting people into the practice of these things and get us into early evangelization training,” Harter said.
The retreats, he said, will be designed to “empower people to witness their faith in a credible way where they can articulate their faith, why Jesus matters, why they’re Catholic. …”
“If we’re going to be radiating the faith and we’re going to be the inviters, we have to be able to do that. These retreats are targeted toward that end,” Harter said.
Parishes will develop events
Randy Nohl, head of the John Paul II Center, expects that parishes, as they did for the Year of St. Paul, will develop Year of Faith events, too. St. James Parish, Menomonee Falls, is sponsoring a Festival of Faith on Sunday, Oct. 14, 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
According to Daryl Olszewski, parish pastoral associate, that would normally be the Sunday on which the parish holds its Generations in Faith Together (G.I.F.T.) program.
“We were brainstorming, and Sue Devine-Simon, our coordinator of child ministry, thought of doing a family retreat. I said, ‘Why not expand it and make it bigger and open it up to the parish? Make it upbeat. Make it a festival of faith,’” he said. “It is designed to be short activities where people stop and participate; we want to get people excited about their faith.”
As an example of one of the 25-minutes sessions, he noted that Bob Stolarczyk will offer a preview of Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series.
“People might want to come and participate in the full program,” Olszewski said.
The festival is comprised of 21, 25-minutes sessions, some of which are targeted to specific age groups, e.g., “Is God on my iPhone?” for middle school and high school students, and “The Pumpkin Prayer” for pre-school through fifth grade students.
The G.I.F.T. program usually involves 60 families, or 200 people, on a Sunday. Olszewski hopes other parishioners will accept the invitation to be a part of the festival.
“It’s about awareness of faith; it’s not all intellectual. It’s lived, it’s actual, it’s service,” he said, noting that one of the sessions will highlight the parish’s garden, worked by 50 volunteers and which serves as a source of food for the food pantry in Sussex.
The afternoon will conclude with a 30-minute concert by local folk group Theiss & O’Connor.
More information about the Festival of Faith is available at http://stjames-parish.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/festival-of-faith.pdf.