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What It Means PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 21:01
Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for this personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ. . . . This personal encounter allows individuals to share in the Son's relationship with his Father and to experience the power of the Spirit. 

Lineamenta for Synod on New Evangelization, 2012

 
A Funny Thing Happened on Our Way to Rome . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 21 October 2011 14:20

To all gentle ID readers and lurkers:

You may have wondered why I stopped blogging so suddenly a few months ago.  Well, it is like this:

For several years, an editor had been asking me to write a book on discerning charisms. On July 27, she contacted me once again.

I wrote back that while I sensed that now was indeed God’s time for me to focus on writing, I had just begun a book on an critical topic: parish-based evangelization. I explained that we (CSI) had been asked to give presentations in Rome during the Bishop’s Synod on the New Evangelization in October, 2012, and wanted the book to be available by then. But after that, I could begin a book for Our Sunday Visitor on discerning charisms.

At 6:30 am the very next morning, I received an urgent e-mail inquiry: “Do you have a publisher for the book on evangelization?” If not, OSV was very interested in publishing such a book and could get important projects out in a hurry. And by the way, the acquisitions team was meeting in a few hours, so could I get an outline to her in an hour? Needless to say, I spent the morning scrambling to refine the book outline and send it to the editor!

By 2pm, my editor called to tell me that the team was very enthusiastic, wanted to publish the book, and could have it out by June, 2012. All I had to do was get the manuscript in by January 10! I’ve been told by people in the industry that having such a major publisher make a decision this quickly is unheard of! This was one of those times when God so obviously opens a door that all you can do is say “yes” and walk right through.

My whole world revolved on its axis.  There went the rest of my summer and my fall.  As of today, I only have a little over 11 weeks left to finish a major book covering everything the Institute has learned over the past 14 years in calling Catholics to intentional discipleship!

Here’s where we could use your help. I was already scheduled to teach the usual deluge of workshops between Labor Day and Thanksgiving!  I am often on the road 70% of the time in the fall, but that sort of schedule would have made it impossible to finish the book on time.  So except for absolutely necessary trips, I have had to drop everything from my schedule. That has included events that would have brought in much-needed income for the Institute.

We need your generous financial help to make up the income that we will not earn through events because I’m chained to my computer. This is a huge opportunity for the Institute, one that will give our work a whole new level of visibility and credibility in the minds of pastoral leaders throughout the English speaking world—and with the Bishops attending the Synod in 2012.

Your year-end, tax deductable donation will ensure that we get through the crucial January 10 manuscript deadline ready and able to respond to all the amazing new opportunities that will open up because of the book.

If you have benefited from what you have read here on the blog or from one of our live events or formation resources, please consider prayerfully helping us at this critical time.  All  you have to do is click on the bright yellow button at the top right of our webpage that says Donate Now.

St. Catherine and St. Dominic will be very pleased and we will be most grateful!

 


 
The Evangelizing Website: Exhibit A PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 21 October 2011 14:04

Hey evangelizers!  Here is a chance to check out a great new parish website for Queen of the Rosary Parish in Elk Grove, IL.  It has been boldly re-designed from the ground up with evangelization as the primary purpose.  If you'd like to be inspired, be sure and take a look and then meditate on webmaster Keith's rationale for the changes. (Keith notes that the site is still somewhat of a work in progress.)

 

The current state of affairs in new media and digital communication presents the Church with both a call to service and an opportunity for evangelization. In the midst of growing technological advancement and cultural change, Pope Benedict XVI says that the Church must live out a “diakonia of culture in the present "digital continent," traversing its paths to proclaim the Gospel, the only Word that can save man.”[1] In following the Great Commission of Jesus, found in Matthew 28:18, the Church must therefore use technology to proclaim the Gospel to the digital nations while simultaneously illuminating various forms of digital communication with the light of the Gospel itself. It is an interesting twist on the old adage that “the medium is the message.”

At the parish level, new media and digital technology offer tremendous opportunities for evangelization and the formation and equipping of disciples for their particular mission. On a technological front, the interactivity of Web 2.0 tools allows for more than just passive “reading” of information. Rather, technological innovation currently supports the possibility of participation and dialogue while users engage with the tools, media, and content of a parish website. This allows for an online component to broaden a parish’s reach in terms of both evangelization and formation (including the recruitment of students and parent involvement related to a parish school).

Sociologically, an interactive, new-media-enriched online presence will become increasingly necessary as more of the Millennials (roughly, those born between 1980 and 2000) and the following group, the D-Gens (Digital Generation) come of age. These young men and women are what educational writer Marc Prensky calls Digital Natives, and they have a fundamentally different approach to learning and life because:

They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Today's average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading*, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.[2]

Due to their developmental experience with this technology, Digital Natives not only prefer digital over more traditional forms of media, but they think and process information differently than their predecessors. Communicating effectively—whether it is marketing a particular program or the value of a parish school, or sharing the fundamentals of the gospel—requires a radically more interactive approach. This is also somewhat true for many members of Generation X, who bridge the gap between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (those who are not fundamentally at home in a digital culture), most of whom come from the Baby Boomer Generation.

In the current life of the Church, most Gen X’ers and Millennials represent “Lost Generations,” a demographic gap in the makeup of our parishes. According to recent CARA studies, 13% of those Gen X’ers who self-identified as Catholic attend Mass at least once a week, and only 10% of Millennials who self identified as Catholic attend at least once a week.[3] The urgency here is that in 2009, 50% of Catholic adults are either Gen X’ers or Millennials, and that number will only continue to grow. And yet, these groups have the lowest engagement with religious practice of all the generations currently alive. In order to reach them, we will have to preach the Gospel in a familiar idiom, utilizing the social communication tools of the day. God, it turns out, is a God of bytes, as well!



[1] Benedict XVI. Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, October 2009.

[2] Prensky, Marc. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” On the Horizon (MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October
2001) Page 1.

[3] Weddell, Sherry. Whither RCIA? Part Two: Millennials Rising. Intentional Disciples
(http://blog.siena.org/2009/08/whither-rcia-part-two-millennials.html) August 2009.

 

The website's transformation was spearheaded by Keith Strohm, one of our traveling trainers and a passionate evangelizer.  When Keith is not roaming the country for us, he works as Director of Faith Formation and Youth Ministry at Queen of the Rosary Parish in Elk Grove, IL.  In his other spare time, Keith is husband of Debbie, father of Siena (Yes!  Siena is named after the Institute and winner of CSI's first Incredibly Cute Baby Award), aspirant in the Chicago diaconate formation program, MDiv student, and a published writer. (Ok, I got tired just writing that paragraph.)

 

What do you think?  Do you know of other great parish websites that are designed to be instruments of evangelization?  Inquiring minds want to know . . .

 

*What I want to know is - does reading on a Kindle count as reading?

 


 
Funny cats in water PDF Print E-mail
Written by Istvan Kovacs   
Friday, 07 October 2011 09:41

 

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