Studies show that more than 75 percent of Catholics do not participate actively in parish life. Everyone knows a family member, friend or neighbor who feels alienation. In survey after survey, those we care about report a need to encounter God and experience the blessings of belonging to a caring community of faith. Parishes have a critical opportunity to offer support, meaning and hope, especially with inactive Catholics.
How can parishes respond to this challenge? The Diocese of Buffalo will offer them a unique approach, entitled "Be My Witness: Formation for the New Evangelization," from RENEW International, inspired by Pope Francis' "The Joy of the Gospel." Parish leaders will have the opportunity to learn about "Be My Witness" at a special showcase experience offered March 10 at the Catholic Center at 795 Main St. in Buffalo.
"Be My Witness" works in two integrated phases. Phase One gathers the pastors and key leaders, to explore and address five key areas of parish life: enhancing Sunday worship, creating a welcoming environment, fostering a sense of belonging, witnessing to faith in word and deed, and reaching out in a spirit of mission. With feedback from the RENEW Parish Assessment tool, the team will develop a parish pastoral plan for evangelization by exploring a series of learning videos, meeting guides, and planning tools.
Phase Two of "Be My Witness" builds on the first phase by encouraging parishioners to become what the pope calls "missionary disciples." Adults of all ages and walks of life can participate in parish small groups to explore their call as Catholics to reach out to others in their daily life. With RENEW's video and print resources, they will receive strong encouragement to lend their energy to parish outreach.
Throughout the process, RENEW International pastoral representatives will train and coach participating parishes as they develop their pastoral plans and establish the parish small groups. Program elements are also available in Spanish as "Sean mis testigos."
For more information about "Be My Witness," parishes may contact Dennis Mahaney at 716-847-8393, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.