Bishop’s Message for Evangelii Gaudium Sunday

Bishop Mark O'Toole, Lead Bishop for Evangelisation and Discipleship, calls on us to explore the constitutions of Vatican II in preparation for the Jubilee Year as Pilgrims of Hope.

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Archbishop Mark O’Toole, the Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Discipleship, has written a message ahead of Evangelii Gaudium Sunday, a day to reflect on the call to all the faithful to be missionary disciples.

In particular, Archbishop O’Toole talks about the upcoming Jubilee Year in 2025, and the many things the bishops’ conference is preparing for that year of celebration.


My dear friends, I’m delighted to greet you and to remind you that shortly we will be celebrating Evangelii Gaudium Sunday. This is a moment in the Church in England and Wales when we recall that we are all missionary disciples called to witness to our faith and to share it with others. I’d like to share with you some of the things that the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales are doing in order to help us all undertake this invitation of the Lord. Especially over this next 18 months to two years, we will be preparing for the Jubilee Year, which takes place throughout the Church in 2025. In fact, that Jubilee year begins in Advent 2024 and is entitled Pilgrims of Hope.

Pope Francis has deliberately chosen this theme in order to remind us that we walk together in the path of faith. We will be spending time reflecting on what it means to be a Catholic community who walk together and listen to one another, in order that we can be more effective missionary disciples. But in preparation for this Jubilee year, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, following the invitation of the Holy Father, is spending these first six months or so reflecting on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and especially in its four constitutional or foundation documents. Firstly, on the word of God, Dei Verbum, which asks what does it mean to listen more deeply and to experience Jesus in His Word, so that that word can be communicated to others?

Secondly, to reflect on the gift of the Liturgy of Divine Worship through the document Sacrosanctum Concilium. What does it mean for us to be able to enter more deeply into that most unique and important encounter we have with the Lord in the Sacred Liturgy? Thirdly, the document on the nature of the Church, Lumen Gentium. It is of course Jesus Christ who is the light of the nations, and we meet and encounter Him in the mystery of our Holy Mother, the Church. So what does it mean to be a member of the Church and to try and reach out to others, to invite them to be part of our walking together and so be pilgrims of hope with us, and finally Gaudium et Spes – the Church in the Modern World.

What does it mean for the Church to be open to the realities of our modern world, to engage with the disciplines of science and politics, of culture, of the arts, so that we can be a voice of hope in these arenas? The Bishops’ Conference will be sharing information on all of these and different ways in which we can engage with them. And then in the second part of this preparation for the year of the Jubilee, the Bishops’ Conference, together with the whole of the Catholic community throughout the world, will be spending time reflecting on the Our Father as the invitation to prayer. Because, of course, it’s true that we cannot offer to others what we have not experienced deeply ourselves. And so one of the most intense periods of preparation will be in those months leading up to the launch of the Year of Jubilee, when the conference will be offering, through its Department for Evangelisation and Discipleship resources, which help us to reflect on the gift of the Our Father and our relationship through Jesus Christ.

With God the Father, when we pray, through the power of the Holy Spirit. So I ask you, as you prepare to celebrate Evangelii Gaudium Sunday, to give thanks for your faith and to ask the Lord to help you be a more faithful missionary disciple. God bless.

+Mark O’Toole
Archbishop of Cardiff
Bishop of Menevia
Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Discipleship