Catholics announce the risen Christ in public squares across Colorado, Wyoming

On April 7, 2013, more than 100 members of the Neocatechumenal Way announced the good news of the Gospel via loudspeakers in 10 public squares in Colorado and two in Wyoming as part of a Year of Faith evangelization effort called “The Great Mission.”

The 12 teams of some dozen members each, which include married couples, young adults, seminarians and a priest, were part of an estimated 10,000 such teams across the world, including 100 in Rome, according to Rose Mary McLeod, who with her husband Don lead the Way, a parish-based catechumenate, in the two states.

“This is precisely the new evangelization that John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now (Pope) Francis have called for,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila told 10 of the teams April 6 just before blessing them during a liturgy in a chapel at Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in south Denver.

“This is new in ardor, new in zeal and most of all new in method,” the archbishop said.

The Great Mission, in which Catholics witness to their encounters with the risen Christ, will continue for the next four Sundays at locations in Denver, Boulder, Centennial, Fort Collins, Greeley, Holyoke and Pueblo as well as in the Wyoming cities of Laramie and Riverton. Sites include town squares, a trailer park and parking lots.

Each team is supported by Neocatechumenal Way communities that set up and tear down the stage and equipment for the evangelizers and pray for the team, McLeod said. The effort was conceived by Kiko Arguello, a co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, as the Way’s contribution to the Year of Faith.

In Pueblo, Bishop Fernando Isern blessed two of the teams, including the one he is a member of that is evangelizing just outside his cathedral. Cheyenne Bishop Paul Etienne had previously given his blessing to the effort in his diocese as well, McLeod said.

“And I believe that today the Holy Father is blessing the teams in Rome,” McLeod told the Denver Catholic Register April 6 after the blessing led by Archbishop Aquila.

At the Denver blessing, Archbishop Aquila told the teams that the Neocatechumenal Way’s Great Mission effort “is truly a work of the Holy Spirit.” Quoting the Gospel reading from Matthew called “The Great Commission” in which Christ charges his disciples to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” the archbishop urged the teams to “’Be not afraid.’

“For too often, we as a Church have waited for people to come to us rather than going out. … It is as if we kept that good news all to ourselves in our churches,” he said. “Certainly it was done in foreign countries where there were missions, but not so much here.

“I want to extend my deep gratitude to each one of you for having the courage to go out to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. It is a great joy for me as a bishop, as a successor to the apostles, to see you go out and carry on the mission of Christ.”

For more information on The Great Mission, visit www.ncwcolorado.org or email ncw@ncwcolorado.org.

 

 

 

 

COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.