Communicator’s presentation kicks off new talks series
The question of why we evangelise is central to the Catholic Church today in a world where many people feel trapped in life without real hope. This was the cultural diagnosis delivered by Bishop Robert Barron in the launch of a new talk series led by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
Over 400 people from parishes, schools and chaplaincies from across the Archdiocese of Sydney and beyond went online, separately and in groups, last Saturday to watch as the Los Angeles-based author, speaker, theologian and media ministry-founder addressed the question ‘Why Make Disciples? The Case for the Evangelising Mission of the Church’.
Bishop Barron’s talk was the first in the series ‘Reclaiming Evangelisation: How Jesus’ Great Commission Will Renew Our Parishes’ which supports the archdiocesan mission plan Go Make Disciples.
Drawing upon sacred Scripture, classic literature, writings of the saints and the insights of contemporary spiritual writers and today’s culture, Bishop Barron led participants to reflect on the reasons why evangelisation is a central calling and task for every Catholic.
“Bishop Barron spoke of the kind of person who breathes life into a room, and that’s what we want to be. It presented me with a whole fresh new way of presenting evangelisation.” – Dominque Farah
“I’ve always liked the characterisation that evangelisation is one starving person showing another starving person how to find food,” Bishop Barron said. Acknowledging the reality of sin and the false gods of honour, power, wealth, pleasure and so on, Bishop Barron pointed to the healing and redemptive power of Christ. “That’s an important element of evangelisation.”
Charbel Mourani, a Sydney Maronite Catholic and father of three said the talk was both inspiring and practical.
“I like the fact that he kept it very simple, and it is very often little things we can do to share the kerygma, the Good News, with clarity and love which over time build up to increase people’s understanding about it,” he said.
“I also liked that the Bishop encouraged us to be bold about our faith and our Catholic intellectual tradition. That really resonated with me.”
Dominique Farah, Education Officer: Church Engagement at Sydney Catholic Schools, said she had also been deeply impressed by the series launch with Bishop Barron.
“It presented me with a whole fresh new way of presenting evangelisation,” she said. “Bishop Barron spoke of the type of person who breathes life into a room, and that’s what we want to be.
“I also loved the idea he shared of the two armies, from St Ignatius’s Two Standards meditation, that question of what army do you want to belong to, the army of the world, or of God’s army? The world can’t offer anything like what God can offer us and I know whose side I want to be on.”
Dominique said she looks forward to the rest of the series, which will continue next February. “There’s always something new to learn as the world changes. As we have seen with COVID there are always new challenges and this is where the response of the Church actually gives you those new perspectives that bring new life,” she said.
Fourteena Dewi, a parishioner at St Patrick’s, Church Hill, said she had been put off by the idea of evangelising and being a missionary disciple until she had heard it expressed in simple terms of caring for others and leading them to know Jesus Christ.
“Evangelisation seemed too big a word for me, not having any formal religious or spiritual training, and I thought it was about shouting on street corners or going to remote places as a missionary,” she said.
“But now I know that I can do this here in my own parish and in my own situation.
“Here I can try to introduce the idea that evangelisation is reaching out to those who are lost in their sins and addictions to wealth, pleasure, power or honour, and we all do have those struggles so that really touched me.”
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that as a “star of the New Evangelisation” Bishop Barron was the ideal person to launch the talk series that is intended to spark a conversation about the evangelising mission of parishes in the Archdiocese of Sydney, and fostering missionary discipleship in all of the faithful.
“That mission is at the heart of our archdiocesan mission plan, Go Make Disciples, which supports parishes to strengthen those foundations of parish life most essential to calling and forming disciples,” the Archbishop said.
Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang shared his delight at the response to the new series and to Bishop Barron’s encouragement to Catholics in Sydney and beyond to ‘go make disciples’ of all the nations as commissioned by Christ.
He thanked the Bishop for his “generous sharing of conviction and insight, delivered with a clear passion for the Gospel and a deep love for the Church”.
“In so doing, you have emboldened us to re-propose the Catholic faith, Christ himself, to those both near and far, to offer God ‘right praise’ by our lives, to bring life and passion as evangelists in our homes, parishes, schools, to make Jesus’ last command our first priority in an age that is hungry and in need of the radiance of God,” he said.
After a Christmas break the Reclaiming Evangelisation series will continue with a live online event with international speaker and Scripture scholar Dr Mary Healy from the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit on Saturday, 12 February, followed by renowned author and retreat director Fr Jacques Philippe on Wednesday 23 March.
To register for these and other Go Make Disciples events visit gomakedisciples.org.au.
For more information about the Reclaiming Evangelisation Series contact Sister Anastasia at [email protected]