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  My Witness

Vol. 7, No. 1, January, 2002

Pope John Paul II: The Parish Called to Evangelize
by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki, S.N.C.

Sister Angeline Pope John Paul II continues his call to the Church for a new evangelization, new in its fervor, expression, and methods. In his various homilies and addresses, the Holy Father directs his attention to the parish as an evangelizing community.

  • "In order to renew the parish communities, primary subjects of the new evangelization, the active contribution of all the faithful is necessary. In this ecclesial commitment, the parish is the constant reference point and center for the proclamation, celebration and witness of faith" (Ad Limina Visit of the Bishops of Umbria Region, Italy, March 16, 1991).

  • "You should love your parish church, the place in which you show everyone that you are the People of God. Go there regularly; make it welcoming and open to all (Dedication of St. Stanislaus Parish, Rome, June 16, 1991).

  • "Wherever he is, the priest should feel and act like a pastor of the world in service to the whole missionary Church. He is a born animator and the person primarily responsible for awakening a missionary consciousness in the faithful. He should arouse and maintain among the faithful a most active interest for the evangelization of the world" (Message on World Mission Day, October 21, 1990).

  • "I would like to say to every parish and to every movement, the Pope is relying on you to help make grow the branches of the tree planted by the Lord. May each lay person assume his and her share of responsibility in serving all in the Church and in society!" (Homily in Burkino Faso, Africa, January 30, 1990).

  • "Each parish, each local group, should intensify prayer in order to have the strength and courage to evangelize and serve each other in fraternal love" (Homily to the Faithful in Zambia, May 3, 1989).

  • "Personal holiness in the Church, which is loved by Christ and sanctified by the Spirit, is a condition without which it is absolutely impossible to have an evangelizing and missionary Church" (Homily to the Parish of Santa Silvia, Rome, February 18, 1990).

  • "Total evangelization has as its high point an intense liturgical life which makes the parishes living ecclesial communities fostering both an ongoing Christian formation in the faith and an active participation in the social and charitable activity of the Church" (Ad Limina Visit of Puerto Rican Bishops, October 27, 1989).

  • "To be 'salt of the earth' or, in other words to be an apostle, a missionary, an evangelizer is a role that belongs to all Christians, because at their Baptism, they were marked by the seal of the Spirit who makes them witnesses to and messengers of the Good News" (Homily in Bamako, Mali, Africa, January 28, 1990).

  • "Pastoral activity must find its motivating and unifying center in the local Church, particularly in the parish . . . . It is here that evangelization can offer both education and experience of life through the active collaboration of priest, deacons, religious and laity" (St. Polycarp Parish, Rome, March 11, 1990).

  • "Priests should become personally involved and also involve the faithful in preaching the Gospel to those still outside the ecclesial community" (Message on World Mission Day, October 21, 1990).

  • "It would be an error to catechize without having previously evangelized, just as it would be equally wrong to evangelize without later sufficiently attending to instruction in the faith received" (Address at Vera Cruz, Mexico, May 7, 1990).

  • "What does evangelization entail? The task is not so much to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard of it, as to live the Gospel ever more perfectly and fully, so that the weak, the alienated and the sceptical may not turn from Christ but embrace him and his gift of salvation" (Homily at Cathedral of Gozo, Malta, June 4, 1990).

  • "As we approach the Third Millennium of the Redemption, our universal mission becomes even more urgent . . . . No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can withdraw from the supreme duty of proclaiming Christ to all peoples" (Message on World Mission Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, Rome, 1992).

  • As our Holy Father says, "The work of the new evangelization . . . will be effective only if the Redeemer of mankind is the center of your families, of every neighborhood, city and town."

Let us pray that the parish, as an evangelizing community, will reach out and boldly proclaim the Good News of salvation to every man and woman in a credible way, so that the personal love of God and the abundant life he offers in Jesus Christ may be known and experienced by everyone.

Let us pray that the necessary formation and training be given to parishioners, so that they become effective evangelizers, able to use the Word of God powerfully in their evangelizing efforts. Through these efforts, may Jesus Christ become the center of every family, neighborhood, city and town.

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