WASHINGTON--"A Time to Listen...A Time to Heal, A Resource Directory for Reaching Out to Inactive Catholics" has been published by the Committee on Evangelization of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).
The resource directory is part of a concerted effort by the Committee on Evangelization to assist diocesan and parish staffs in reaching out to alienated and inactive members of the Catholic Church. First envisioned in 1997, and prepared with the help of leaders, lay and clergy, actively engaged in this ministry, A Time to Listen...A Time to Heal is intended to further implement the Holy Father's call for reconciliation in preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000.
The directory will also implement Go and Make Disciples, A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, approved by the U.S. Bishops in November, 1992. In that document, the Bishops said: "The Holy Spirit also evangelizes through our attempts to reach those who have given up the practice of their Catholic Faith for one reason or another and those who have no family of faith...and every Catholic can be a minister of welcome, reconciliation, and understanding to those who have stopped practicing the faith."
Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe is Chairman of the NCCB Committee on Evangelization.
"We need old-fashioned zeal in reaching out to inactive Catholics and in helping them return to the fullness of faith," Archbishop Sheehan commented. "This directory will provide models for doing precisely that, which are actually working successfully."
Archbishop Sheehan said the Santa Fe archdiocese recently trained 4,500 census takers. Their duties will include finding and responding to the needs of persons who would welcome the opportunity to return to the practice of the faith.
This past weekend, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia celebrated Reconciliation Weekend, welcoming thousands back into the Church with over 1,100 confessors.
A Time to Listen...A Time to Heal, A Resource Directory for Reaching Out to Inactive Catholics is divided into four parts (1) three articles on the evangelization of inactive Catholics, (2) parish, diocesan, and national models presenting twelve diverse approaches for reaching out to inactive Catholics, (3) six faith-sharing guides, which can be used for small group reflection on the Gospel stories of reconciliation during Lent and at other times of the year, and (4) a bibliography of resources.
The writings on ministry to inactive Catholics include articles by Father Frank P. DeSiano, CSP, president of the Paulist Fathers, and a consultant to the NCCB Committee on Evangelization ("It is Mercy I Want"); Sister Patricia Wittberg, SC, who teaches at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in the areas of sociology of religion and religious organization ("The Signs of the Times"); and Ms. Kathleen Hope Brown, whose article is entitled "Components of Reconciliation Programs."
The model programs described in Part II of the directory include the Come Home Program of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati; the Come Home Program, a Franciscan Ministry in New York; the Catholics Returning Home Program, a ministry of compassion and reconciliation in the Archdiocese of Chicago; Landings, a Paulist national ministry to returning Catholics, based in Boston; Luz y Vida, a ministry to Hispanics in the Archdiocese of New York, (which is described in Spanish); Oficina Para La Evangelizacion Hispana of the Diocese of San Diego; Opening the Door, A Downtown Ministry of Reaching Out, at St. Francis of Assisi church, Trenton, New Jersey; Reaching Out, a Manual for Evangelizing Inactive Catholics, Archdiocese of Louisville; ReMembering Church, a national ministry based in Washington, D.C.; Returning Catholics Program, at St. Augustine parish, also in Washington; Take Another Look, St. Augustine and St. Elizabeth Seton parishes, Pleasanton, Calif.; and the We Miss You program, Archdiocese of Omaha.
In addition to Archbishop Sheehan, members of the NCCB Committee on Evangelization are Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Bishop Sam Jacobs, Bishop Raymond Lucker, Bishop Joseph Martino, and Bishop Daniel Walsh.
Copies of the resource directory will be sent in May to all bishops and diocesan evangelization directors in the United States.
Additional information is available from Father John E. Hurley, CSP, Special Assistant for Evangelization, NCCB Secretariat for Evangelization and Missions, 202-541-3012, firstname.lastname@example.org.