The Most Rev George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff, has spoken of the importance of embracing the call to engage in the New Evangelisation.
Addressing over 180 people at a resource day titled Crossing the Threshold: Ministry and Outreach to Non Churchgoing Catholics on Saturday 23 June in Cardiff, he said:
“This Crossing the Threshold day is a very significant moment in the life of the Church in this country. It will encourage Catholics to respond to the call to engage in the New Evangelisation – a new missionary impetus in the life of the Church. It is also an important part of the legacy of Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK and encourages us to integrate his message in our lives. The day also serves our preparations for the Year of Faith, affirming and equipping us to play our part in the mission of the Church. Days such as these give us a new confidence to share our faith with other members of the Body of Christ, especially those who are baptised but are distant from parish life.”
The Crossing the Threshold day in Cardiff was one of five that were initiated by the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis which is chaired by Bishop Kieran Conry (Arundel and Brighton). Previous events have taken place in York (November 2011), Birmingham (February 2012), Crawley (March 2012) and Westminster (April 2012).
The days were delivered in partnership with local groups, diocesan staff and members of the national core group to support ministry and outreach to non churchgoing Catholics.
Rt Rev Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, gave the keynote at St Illtyd’s Catholic High School in Rumney, near Cardiff and said:
“It is also important that we value and recognise what a treasure we have in our faith. Sometimes we can take it so much for granted or undervalue it… It is in the family of the Church to which we belong that we experience our faith as living and true. Here we find a place to celebrate our joys, mourn losses, serve others, we are provided with support and receive strength for our daily lives. If this is how we live our lives then even without saying a word we will be preaching an eloquent sermon. Others will be attracted to our way of living… And we will have become a way, a means for them to begin crossing the threshold, returning to full participation in the life of the Church.”
Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, presided at the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist and preached saying:
“…sometimes, perhaps a bit like Elizabeth and Zechariah, we have been the right people, we have done the right things, but all the results seem to be a barren world, all our efforts seem to have gone to nothing and yet the Gospel is a proclamation of hope because where we thought there was barrenness there comes life, there comes new life and unexpected life in places where we thought it could never happen and never be… The invitation to us is to be a faithful people and if we are a faithful people God will work in unexpected ways… The people that we meet in our daily lives, they are God’s gift to us. We belong together, it’s not a matter of them and us, it is a matter of we together. We are gift to one another. Those Catholics who may be ‘resting’, may be the very gift that we need in our lives in order for us to grow, in order for us to continue our journey of faith… and then we leave everything in the hands of God, as a people of trust, a people of hope.”
Six workshops were offered on the day:
What is the basic Gospel message?
Making the most of our encounters with non churchgoing Catholics
How to welcome people and provide the appropriate space in a small group meeting
How to signpost people to the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Building bridges with non churchgoers through a shared involvement in social action
Using RCIA as a tool to support non-churchgoers to return to parish life
Attendees came from parishes and groups across the region. The Crossing the Theshold tour was coordinated by the Home Mission Desk (Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Secretariat) and the materials created, and the insights and feedback received from tour day attendees, will be used to write a national resource for parishes to be made available in 2013.
National core group for ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics:
Alpha for Catholics
Archdiocese of Southwark
Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN)
Catholic Evangelisation Services (CaFE)
Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle
Diocese of Portsmouth
Home Mission Desk, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales – Secretariat
Keeping In Touch (KIT)
National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW)