We PROCLAIMed the Gospel!
The hall at St Gregory’s in Northampton was full as about 60 people attended our diocese’s first follow up event for Proclaim ’15 on 19th September. We began with prayer before Alex Heath gave us an overview of the 5 parts of Proclaim ’15 and some clips from the keynote speakers.
Our task is to build missionary parishes, so Alex encouraged us to consider 3 practical suggestions and, depending on our local situation, choose one to take back to our parish:
• organise a parish evangelisation information evening to envision first steps to practical action; or
• run a parish evangelisation project or mission; or
• form a parish evangelisation team to promote and run practical evangelisation projects.
Those of us who’d been at July’s inspiring national event in Birmingham shared some of what we’d experienced in the full and varied day. We mentioned particularly:
• Prayer - this was compulsory as prayer must underpin all our efforts.
• Sharing the Gospel - Joanna outlined how understanding the thresholds of conversion described in Sherry Waddell’s ‘Forming Intentional Disciples’ can transform ministry. Find out where someone is and help them to the next step: skipping steps doesn’t work.
• Reaching the Unchurched - help your parishioners discern the gifts that they can share joyfully. Perhaps your parish could set up a Seeker Team?
• Prayer Experiences - Jean shared some simple suggestions to help people pray where they are: Mass is not always the best start
• Cath from the Sion Community for Evangelisation outlined the resources and support that they can provide.
• Catherine and Elizabeth spoke of the Bible Timeline. It’s such a powerful tool already being used with great success in our diocese.
After lunch we stopped talking and actually went out and did it! Real hands on evangelisation! The sun shone as we processed to Abington Park with the Blessed Sacrament to the area prepared near the bandstand. We used leaflets and smiles to invite the people in the park to ‘Come to Jesus. Come to life!’ We were delighted to find people very receptive, even when they’d already been approached by another team member.
‘All activities are free: let us serve you’ encouraged people to come and see:
• face painting for children - great for attracting families
• talk and prayer - both for individuals and to attach to balloons, released together at the end
• an opportunity to have your feet washed - it’s what Jesus did all underpinned by
• quiet prayer and reflection - an hour’s adoration with live music alongside.
The Lord was with us in every possible way: it was a very positive experience: many thanks to Maria Heath for enabling our hour in the Park.
Luton attendee Kevin Drew added:
The day began with prayers and briefings and opportunities to talk to each other. These briefings and conversations revealed that we are all encouraged to come up with our own initiatives. Almost any initiative is welcome,such as putting a sign outside your Church saying we are open please come in, inviting non-Catholics to our social events, delivering leaflets around your church or going door to door talking to people.
During the afternoon in the park, I helped hand out leaflets inviting people to the Gazebos. Most people thanked us politely and seemed to appreciate the invitation. A few people were clearly not interested but were still polite. The moment you mention Jesus, there is clearly respect (and longing?) which suggests the harvest is large.
Although I’m very happy advocating Catholicism publicly, I do struggle to be seen (say) praying on my knees in public (except in a Church). I was therefore amazed to see so many members of the public at the Gazebos praying and participating without any embarrassment. It just goes to show we all have weaknesses that we have to learn to overcome and we mustn’t let our weaknesses get in the way of evangelising.
We handed out leaflets saying “an opportunity to experience Jesus”. Quite a few people replied that they are Catholics, surprised that Catholics were evangelising in this way. They were delighted when we revealed that we are Catholics. We clearly have a lot to do !!
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Thanks to everyone who led and participated in the day: there was a different Proclaim 15 event at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Gt Missenden, on 17th October 17 ' read about it here. .
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To go back to the main Proclaim 15 page, click here
To go to the Follow-up and Resources page, click here