By Gordon Nary
Gordon: What is your parish?
Anne: I belong to St Gilbert’s in Grayslake, IL.
Gordon: What are your primary responsibilities as Lifelong Formation Coordinator for Vicariate II of the Archdiocese of Chicago?
Anne: The primary responsibilities for Lifelong formation coordinator is to provide support and resources to persons who minister to people from womb to tomb. The programs are baptism preparation, marriage preparation, K-12 religious education in the school and parishes, youth ministry and adult education.
Gordon: What responsibilities do all of us have as evangelists?
Anne: We are all responsible to bring people to Jesus. I was baptized at birth and from that moment on, I was commissioned by God through the grace of my baptism to bring the message of Christ to the world. Obviously as an infant, it was my parents and god parents responsibility to show me how to bring this message and what to bring but as I grew older and received the other sacraments of initiation, I took on a greater role. It starts with my words and actions and then it gets developed into ministry.
Gordon: Some of us may consider evangelization as applicable to non-Catholics. Do we also have a responsibility to evangelize other Catholics?
Anne: Absolutely, no one has a “card to carry” that says whether they are Catholics or not. We are only for the world and to bring the message of peace, hope and love to everyone. Who knows who is the Catholic or not when we share our message to others. There are some people who say that a person has to give me permission to be evangelized. That could be true for some people that I need to be given “permission” but I feel if I have a conversation about the Good News of our Lord and offer them a place where they can help celebrate that Good News with others in Community (Catholic Church), how much harm would it have done? I find the Jesus method of Evangelization an entryway. I encounter people every day on the train, at the bus stop, in line to buy coffee and if by chance they see how much I believe that I am an instrument of God’s love and peace that we will begin to speak and share the Good News with each other. I let God do the work for me in those situations and am open to whatever conversation God needs me to have with strangers on the path.
Anne: Yes, most times when there is a Confirmation the young people are asked to write a letter to the Bishop about why he or she would like to be confirmed. Most times the letters are polite and straight forward and the bishop keeps them to himself or includes some of the letters in his homily. However, Bishop Kane received one recently and he shared it with me. In this letter, it was from a young woman who had parents who had her baptized and made her First Communion but for whatever reason, the family pulled away from the church. The parents claimed to be agnostic (not practicing any religion).
This young woman started being friends with a Catholic girl who attends mass each with her family. She invited the young woman and invited her to the youth group. This young woman loved listening to the stories during mass and loved receiving the Eucharist., She enjoy hanging out in the youth group as well. Each time she went home, she told her parents.. “come and see’ and her parents refused. Time came and the young woman was asked to join the Confirmation classes. She said yes and her parents agreed but still did not attend mass. In the letter to Bishop Kane, this young woman wrote that she believes that the grace she will receive from the Sacrament of Confirmation that it will help change her and through prayer and her love of her parents, she believes the sacrament will help bring her parents to church again. Here this young woman was an evangelizer for her parents and probably her parents’ friends and family.
Gordon: Based on your experience, how helpful is social media as an evangelization resource?
Anne: I believe social media is an amazing and powerful tool. In a positive way, social media can help bring the message of Christ to others. We should not be afraid to post how what we heard at Mass in the homily or what we love about the Church. There are plenty of avenue to set up blogs or online chats for people who can share their understanding of scripture. The generation of today’s teens are known as the “digital age”, they do not know anything other than computers or the internet. This is a tool which church leaders can use to their benefit to reach unchurched people.
Gordon: Thank y0u for your service to the members of the Archdiocese of Chicago and your insights into our responsibly as evangelists.