Evangelisation Bishop encourages Catholics to reach out and share their faith post lockdown

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Bishop Mark O’Toole, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference’s Department for Evangelisation and Discipleship, is supporting the global ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative and encouraging Catholics to pray for and help people come to know Jesus Christ between the great Easter celebrations of the Ascension and Pentecost – from 13 to 23 May 2021.

Catholics often use this time to pray a novena – nine days of prayer – for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. See our Pentecost Novena content.

Bishop O’Toole urges Catholics to engage with those who, for whatever reason, no longer come to Church or have never done so:

“In the weeks leading up to that nine days, have a think about your family, your work colleagues, your friendship circle. Think about five people whom you might begin to have a conversation with about your faith in Jesus Christ. It might be somebody who, during this time of the pandemic, has given up the practise of their faith or somebody who’s searching for deeper meaning because of the experience of disease and death in this past year.

“I think, especially, we want to pray for those five people during the nine days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost and then in the period afterwards, maybe in July, when things have opened up a little more, look for an opportunity in the parish calendar, maybe a summer barbecue or a tea outside in the parish grounds that you could invite those five individuals to, so that they might begin to make a journey to encounter the Lord Jesus more deeply.”

Full Message

We’re living through some strange times, on the one hand, certain things have opened up in our society such that we’re not living the deepest lockdown that we’ve had to live through at different points this past year. At the same time, at least not until the end of June, will we be given those greater freedoms to be able to move around as freely as possible.

I’ve often thought that this must have been something like the experience that the earliest apostles had – especially in the period between the Feast of the Ascension and that of Pentecost.

We know that those earliest apostles had had an experience of the Risen Jesus and especially at Ascension, He had commissioned them to go forth to the ends of the Earth to proclaim His name and to baptise in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, they hadn’t been given that gift of the inner freedom which comes through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was literally to fall upon them on the Feast of Pentecost and drive them out of that Upper Room onto the streets of Jerusalem to proclaim Jesus’s name in many languages and to communicate their encounter with Him to all and sundry.

This is one of the reasons why the period between the Ascension and Pentecost has always been a most precious time for Christian believers. For Catholics, those nine days, we often pray the Novena of the Holy Spirit. Increasingly, Catholics are participating in the initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. I urge individuals, families, communities and Catholic parishes to look at the website www.thykingdomcome.global. There are lots of resources there which give ideas Firstly to pray, during that period, for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the days from the 13-23 May this year. But at the same time, in the weeks leading up to that nine days, have a think about your family, your work colleagues, your friendship circle. Think about five people whom you might begin to have a conversation with about your faith in Jesus Christ. It might be somebody who, during this time of the pandemic, has given up the practise of their faith or somebody who’s searching for deeper meaning because of the experience of disease and death in this past year.

I think, especially, we want to pray for those five people during the nine days of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost and then in the period afterwards, maybe in July, when things have opened up a little more, look for an opportunity in the parish calendar, maybe a summer barbecue or a tea outside in the parish grounds that you could invite those five individuals to, so that they might begin to make a journey to encounter the Lord Jesus more deeply.

My dear friends, let each of us pray intensely during the period of those nine days for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all of us, on our parish communities and on our world.

God bless you.