Faith – Freely give what you’ve freely been given

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The Bishop of Nottingham has hosted a diocesan evangelisation event urging people not to deny others knowledge of the greatest gift there is, by keeping the gift of the Catholic faith to themselves.

Speaking to over 160 people gathered from across the diocese, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, said at Holy Trinity School in Nottingham on 7 December:

“Our Catholic faith has been freely given to us by God. It’s unthinkable that anyone should hold back in freely giving what they have been freely given. Faith is the greatest joy and gift that anyone can ever find and should be shared. At a time when so many people are in need of a word of hope and consolation, it is our duty to be witnesses of faith to them. It’s important that we’re all attentive to opportunities to signpost someone to God’s love and mercy through our words and actions.”

The Bishop was speaking at a ‘Crossing the Threshold’ event which has as its theme ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing (lapsed) Catholics. Six resource days have already been offered in every ecclesial province in England and Wales.

The day in Nottingham was offered in support of a pilot project that involves setting up parish evangelisation teams in the diocese which runs until next summer.

Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, gave the keynote address and said:

“A crucial part of the re-evangelisation of our countries is to offer those who are baptised an opportunity to re-connect with the life of the Church. Pope Francis has been modelling how we should do this – with gentleness, joy, humility, compassion and kindness. We all need to look into our own hearts to be evangelised ourselves, and then seek opportunities to lovingly reach out to people in our daily lives.”

A large number of workshops were offered at the event covering:

  • New Media and outreach

  • Using RCIA to help returners

  • Listening skills

  • Taking the fear out of confession

  • Setting up small groups

  • Creating an evangelising parish

  • Wednesday Word for families

  • Alpha for Catholics

  • Social action

  • Outreach to spiritual seekers

  • Setting up a parish evangelisation team

Gabrielle O’Brien, one of the day attendees and member of a parish Crossing the Threshold evangelisation team in Bulwell and Bestwood, Nottingham, said:

“What’s struck me is that the Pope and the Bishops really care about people who are disconnected from the life of the Church. When I saw the invitation to be involved in ‘Crossing the Threshold’ I knew deep down that it was for me. It’s not so much about reliance on resources but being formed to try to listen and welcome people as Jesus has taught us to.”

Meanwhile, Nanette Brown, a member of a parish Crossing the Threshold evangelisation team in Grimsby, said:

“Crossing the Threshold has given us an opportunity to embrace on a practical level the call to evangelise. We’ve got so much planned this Advent and Christmas to reach out to people, and it’s been great to see local people’s responses.”

The day in Nottingham was offered by the Diocesan Adult Formation Department and the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk, in partnership with the National Core Group for Outreach and Ministry to Non Churchgoing Catholics.