The new evangeliser needs four qualities for successful parish renewal: courage, confidence, a sense of urgency and joy, keynote speaker Cardinal Donald Wuerl told Proclaim 2016 delegates during his opening address on 1 September in Sydney.
‘Many young people today have these qualities,’ the Archbishop of Washington said.
‘Courage could also be described as boldness. We only have to think of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth in order to understand the sense of urgency in our task, she set off at pace. We are not passive bystanders.’
Speaking about Pope Francis, parish renewal and evangelisation, the Cardinal said, ‘others have gone before us but the responsibility of parish renewal falls to us. It’s our turn now.
‘The fourth characteristic is Joy. It’s alright to smile! Our gospel is glorious. Christ is with us.’
For the process of parish renewal to be effective, the Cardinal said, ‘we must be renewed in our own personal faith because we are the ones that are called to go out and be missionary disciples. Firstly, we need to allow ourselves time in prayer with the spirit. Secondly, we need to stand confidently in the truth, and thirdly, we must have the desire to share our faith as an evangelising disciple.
‘The parish is not an outdated institution precisely because it allows for flexibility and an openness to the opportunities and the missionary creativity of the pastor and its community. When the parish encourages its members to be evangelisers and it can become a centre of constant missionary outreach.’
Speaking about the challenges for parish renewal, Cardinal Wuerl said, ‘the secularism experience in my part of the western world is a cultural tsunami. It is against this background, this diminished experience of faith that Pope Francis calls us to the new evangelisation to go-out and don’t stay wrapped up in yourselves. As we go forward, we are going to have a wonderful time of renewal in the Church.
‘The voice of continuity that we hear from Pope Francis, to go-out and make disciples of all nations, is in fact Jesus’ voice.’
The Cardinal suggests that like Pope Francis, who understands the importance of listening, we too need to listen and accompany people in our parish mission. We are called to be echoes of God’s mercy and love.
The three-day conference on the new evangelisation continues today at The Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney. Keynote addresses can be viewed online at xt3.com/proclaim2016