Cardinal Vincent Nichols has made a video appeal to Catholic parishes across England and Wales to join, on 11 July this year, a new national network of prayer for the work of evangelisation. The July date is significant because it is the same day that representatives from across England and Wales will gather in Birmingham for the Proclaim ’15: National Catholic Evangelisation Conference, which is the first event of its kind in a generation.
Speaking from his private chapel at Archbishop’s House in Westminster, His Eminence, said:
“In the Church at this time we’re really trying to reinvigorate the way we understand ourselves and our parishes, to grasp again how essential to our life of faith is our readiness and willingness to share that faith and to reach out to others…. At the heart of all our effort must be prayer. It is from our relationship with Jesus that our desire, and readiness, and ability, to share our faith, really flows. So if all our efforts… are not based and flowing from that relationship with the Lord, they will probably go nowhere. And therefore, as we have this conference in Birmingham on 11 July I really hope every parish will be at prayer on that day, especially on that evening, so the Lord will guide everything we are doing.”
This summer the National Catholic Evangelisation Conference will bring together an extraordinary group of speakers, workshop leaders and representatives from every diocese in England and Wales to celebrate joyfully and confidently their Catholic Faith, and to explore how better to share it. Among the keynote speakers are: Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop Bernard Longley (Birmingham), Rev Nicky Gumbel (Alpha Course) and Michelle Moran (Pontifical Council for the Laity).
Cardinal Nichols added: “”Most of all what we need is a desire to be with the Lord so that he can send us out as his missionary disciples. You might like to remember that 11 July is the Feast of St Benedict, the Patron of Europe. We, in this country, as in other European countries, face very special challenges, really quite difficult challenges, in the way we have to go about expressing and sharing our faith. So St Benedict is our patron for engaging with the culture of this country and of this age in the task of evangelisation. So we should be on our knees on 11 July and Benedict will pray with us, that God will bless our work of evangelisation, just as we try and respond to the Lord at the prompting of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.”
“We’ll be into July before long, so I urge and appeal to you, please do get ready for this day, get ready for 11 July…. It’s an invitation to everybody please. Let’s get together and ask the Lord’s blessing that we can be confidently Catholic and outward-going in our faith.”
Free prayer materials are provided online to support the organisation of parish evenings of prayer on 11 July, as well as an encouragement to offer a Novena of prayer in the run up to Pentecost which is celebrated on Sunday 24 May.
Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “Proclaim ’15 is a significant initiative to support the development of local evangelisation in England and Wales. It is offered as a practical response to Pope Francis’ teaching and example. Please do explore how your parish can get involved and proclaim the reality of God’s unconditional love, as we begin to prepare too for the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.”
Cardinal Nichols’ video Message.