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New evangelization tools aim to serve parish leaders

A good day for the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries is when it makes a parish ministry leader happy.

“That’s what we’re here to do,” Greg Willits told some 200 archdiocesan leaders at an appreciation breakfast May 8. “We’re here to serve you.”

Willits was named director of the new office in 2013, which brought together under one umbrella ministries for evangelization and catechesis; marriage and family life; and youth, young adult and campus ministry.

The event, held at the St. John Paul II Center in south Denver, served to introduce his staff and outline new tools and programs available to parish leaders.

“What a blessing to have you join us today,” Willits said. “Thanks for all that you do at the parish level.”

He explained that interaction and sharing of successes and needs between the chancery offices and parishes will be beneficial to all as they seek to promote the new evangelization.

“We are at your service to help your parishes,” he said. “Please know that the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries is at your disposal as we all seek to strengthen families and evangelize people both in and out of the pews.”

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He defined evangelization as “knowing, living and sharing our faith and encouraging others to do the same.” He pointed out that every believer is called to evangelization.

Willits urged the group to fill out survey forms about their needs.

“You are the first contact to people seeking Jesus in parishes,” Willits emphasized. “This is why your role in the parish is so desperately needed.”

Ministry initiatives were explained by staff members of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries. Programs and events include:

Training and resources for youth ministry at the middle school and high school levels will be expanded. Successful conferences and retreats such as Steubenville of the Rockies for high school students and Mountain Madness for middle school students will continue. Steubenville has already sold out, but there is a waiting list.

Young adult and campus ministries will encourage young Catholics to become active members of their parish communities through ministries such as Theology on Tap.

Family life and marriage programs, including natural family planning education, will focus on strengthening marriage and family. A new, simplified Preparation for Holy Matrimony booklet was distributed to parish leaders. Additionally, leader training is planned in English and Spanish for facilitating the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding) questionnaires used in marriage preparation.

A Digital Church Conference on Oct. 3 will present expert technical training and assistance to help parishes create new websites to transform ministries, communicate through new media technology, and turn a web presence into a social network.

A renovated Denver archdiocesan website (www.archden.org) is scheduled to be launched this summer. It will give parish leaders new information, resources and forms to download and print for their ministries, such as RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and marriage prep programs.

A Catechetical Congress, “Treasures of The Divine Life,” will explain the restoration of the original order of the sacraments of initiation (confirmation before Eucharist), which was successfully introduced by Archbishop Samuel Aquila when he was bishop in Fargo, N.D. Engaging speakers will offer deep theological insights into the treasures of the sacraments.



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