SASKATOON — St. Anne Catholic Church was the Saskatoon host site for a New Evangelization Summit (NES) broadcast from Ottawa to gatherings across Canada and around the world.
NES speakers April 27 and 28 addressed the meaning and challenges of the new evangelization and the call of the baptized to be missionary disciples. Participants heard how the new evangelization is about proclaiming the Gospel and introducing Christ and his saving mission in a modern world where even the baptized are not necessarily evangelized.
“Our baptismal call is to be missionary disciples,” said Daniel Pettipas, evangelization co-ordinator at St. Anne’s Parish. “When we leave our churches on Sunday, we are going into mission territory.”
With the parish’s eucharistic chapel open for adoration and the Paschal candle at the front of the room, the local site offered prayer times as well as praise and worship, displays, a table of resources for sale by Universal Church Supplies, child care, and opportunities for small group discussion.
“The theme of the New Evangelization Summit — the three values — that we bring to the table each year are to inspire, to form, and to connect,” Pettipas told the crowd. “Let us be open to inspiration from the Holy Spirit, to our speakers, and be open to changing our mindset and our perspective. We want you to feel part of something bigger than yourself.”
A range of speakers was featured, including one local voice, Christy Dupuis, who provides pastoral ministry at Immaculate Heart Of Mary Parish in Martensville, Sask.
Drawing on her experience with Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), a university evangelization movement started at the University of Saskatchewan, Dupuis shared her own conversion experience and what she has learned about being a missionary over the years.
She stressed the power of personal testimony. “Our stories are one of the most powerful tools that we have as missionaries,” she said. “More than anything, people need to hear an authentic witness, an authentic telling of God’s presence in our lives. Your stories have the power to communicate the reality of Christ.”
Authentic love must guide every effort of evangelization,” said Dupuis, “not guilt or judgment or fear. Love is going to be the doorway for conversion.”
Building a relationship, trusting and being open with each other are needed, she said. “As missionaries we need to spend a lot of time listening, understanding the people we are getting to know.”
Dupuis said that evangelization should be undertaken one person at a time, as a journey of accompaniment: “We need to be willing to walk with them, to encourage them, to give them the patience and grace that they need to become who God is asking them to be.”
When it comes to evangelization, she said, “We need to rely on the Holy Spirit. Get up and root yourselves in the Scriptures. Pray. We cannot do this work without it.”
It’s not enough to sit and talk about evangelization, Dupuis said, but we need to “push the ignition switch,” and be persistent, and actually do the work of an evangelist. “Do not be afraid to pour yourself out in service so that others may receive the fullness of who they are called to be.”