Special Topics in Evangelization and Catechesis Webinar Series
Reflection Guide for Each Session
25 October and 1, 8, 15 November 2022
In October and November 2022, the Office for Evangelization and Catechesis hosted a webinar series, titled Special Topics in Evangelization and Catechesis, inviting leaders of catechesis and evangelization to participate in a national discussion on special topics of interest to evangelizers and catechists today. A call to take stock and reflect on the challenges of today, the four recorded sessions of the Special Topics webinar series provide starting points for:
- Discussion on our call to be missionary disciples;
- Reflection on synodality in ministry;
- Conversation about Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Canada and solidarity with Indigenous peoples;
- Reflection on our call to be stewards of Creation.
A reflection guide is included and may be used by individuals or in small groups after viewing the webinar. You may wish to offer in-person or online gatherings to view the webinar followed by a period of reflection and discussion.
It may be helpful to have the following materials:
- A Catholic Bible;
- The video recordings of each session (if not viewing the videos as a group);
- Walking Together toward Truth Reconciliation and Healing, the speeches and homilies pronounced by the Holy Father during his Apostolic Visit, available online or as a print booklet for purchase; and
- Additional materials and resources provided by each keynote presenter (optional).
Guidelines for Discussions
- All participants are invited to contribute to the discussions; some may choose not to speak. The group must respect each person’s decision.
- One person speaks at a time.
- Participants, if they choose, may respond to the speaker in a helpful yet non-judgmental/non-confrontational way.
- Respect each other and commit to confidentiality to promote trust.
- Sometimes a person requires more time to tell their story than is allotted in the discussion. The facilitator may offer to speak with a person one-on-one during a break or after the session.
Session 1: Joyful Messengers of Challenging Proposals
Keynote: Dr. Donna Orsuto
- Read 1 Cor. 1:23. The challenging proposal of Dr. Orsuto’s presentation is the message of Christ crucified. In what sense is this message a “challenging proposal”?
- Read Mt. 5:3–12. In Gaudete et Exsultate 63, Pope Francis calls the beatitudes “a Christian’s identity card.” He presents them as the path to holiness, a self-portrait of Christ and an image of whom we should strive to become.
What are some concrete ways in which the beatitudes can inform and enrich my approach to my ministry?
- Dr. Orsuto says that caring for our Common Home is an example of a challenging proposal. How might I present this proposal to others in the context of my ministry?
- Dr. Orsuto presents us with four best practices for communicating challenging proposals to others:
- To Listen.
- To communicate through word and deed the message, “You are loved.”
- To embed in others the message, “You are not alone.”
- To communicate that the Christian path to holiness and the moral life are beautiful.
What are some concrete ways that each of these best practices are already present in my approach to ministry? What are some concrete ways in which I can grow in my use of these best practices?
- What are some best practices that I might propose to others in ministry?
Session 2: Listeners on the Synodal Way
Keynote: Dr. Catherine Clifford
- Dr. Clifford quotes Pope Saint John XXIII,
Today the Church is witnessing a crisis in society. While humanity is at the threshold of a new age, immensely serious and broad tasks await the Church, as in the most tragic periods of her history. It is a question of bringing the perennial life-giving energies of the Gospel to the Modern world…. (Humanae Salutis, 25 December 1961)
How am I reading the signs of the times (discerning God’s presence while remaining rooted in tradition) in my ministry to meet the unique social and technological challenges of today?
- Dr. Clifford tells us that “the New Evangelization requires the pastoral and missionary conversion of the church, from a church that is turned in on itself (self-referential) to a community of missionary disciples.” Further, Pope Francis tells us that “We are all missionary disciples” (EG 119-121).
How can I impart to others, in the context of my ministry, the message that all the baptized are called to be missionary disciples?
- Dr. Clifford reminds us of the centrality of the kerygma to our faith. Further, Pope Francis tells us, “Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (EG 8).
In the context of my ministry, how do I share my own experience of encounter with Jesus and God’s love? How can I encourage those to whom I minister to share their experiences with others?
- If God is calling me “[to reform] structures and practices to better serve the proclamation of the Gospel,” as Dr. Clifford phrases it, how might I discern what changes to my ministry I need to make?
Session 3: Charting a Path Forward: The Visit of Pope Francis and Next Steps in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples
Keynote: Archbishop Don Bolen
- In his speech at Sacred Heart Parish, Pope Francis said,
Dear brothers and sisters: gestures and visits can be important, but most words and deeds of reconciliation take place at the local level, in communities like this, where individuals and families travel side-by-side, day by day. To pray together, to help one another, to share life stories, common joys and common struggles: this is what opens the door to the reconciling work of God.
In the context of my ministry, how might I foster local engagement in reconciliation?
- In his speech at Sacred Heart Parish, Pope Francis said,
This is the way forward: to look together to Christ, to love betrayed and crucified for our sake; to look to Christ, crucified in the many students of the residential schools…. One cannot proclaim God in a way contrary to God himself. And yet, how many times has this happened in history! While God presents himself simply and quietly, we always have the temptation to impose him, and to impose ourselves in his name…. Brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus, may this never happen again in the Church. May Jesus be preached as he desires, in freedom and charity. In every crucified person whom we meet, may we see not a problem to be solved, but a brother or sister to be loved, the flesh of Christ to be loved. May the Church, the Body of Christ, be a living body of reconciliation!
How can I approach my ministry so that Jesus is preached as he desires?
- In his speech at Saint Anne de Beaupré, Pope Francis said,
What happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen? Brothers and sisters, these are our own questions, and they are the burning questions that this pilgrim Church in Canada is asking, with heartfelt sorrow, on its difficult and demanding journey of healing and reconciliation. In confronting the scandal of evil and the Body of Christ wounded in the flesh of our indigenous brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep dismay; we too feel the burden of failure…. The Gospel shows us, however, that it is in precisely such situations of disappointment and grief – when we are appalled by the violence of evil and shame for our sins … – that the Lord comes to meet us and walks at our side.… Brothers and sisters, the Lord also wants to do the same with each of us and with his Church.
How can I allow Jesus to walk at my side in the difficult and demanding journey of confronting the scandal of evil?
- In Iqaluit, Pope Francis said,
I am grateful for this opportunity to be here in Nunavut…. I tried to imagine, after our meeting in Rome, these vast places that you have inhabited from time immemorial and that others would consider inhospitable. You have come to love these places, to respect, cherish and enhance them, passing on, from generation to generation, such basic values as respect for the elderly, genuine fraternity and care for the environment. There is a beautiful and harmonious relationship between you and this land you inhabit, because it too is strong and resilient, and responds with brilliant light to the darkness that enshrouds it for most of the year.
What are some concrete ways in which care for our Common Home can help healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?
- Archbishop Bolen relays to us the words written by Pope Francis in the visitors’ book at the basilica in Quebec City, « Marcher ensemble, ce n’est pas facile, mais c’est possible » (“It is not easy to walk together, but it is possible”).
What can I do, concretely, to foster healing and reconciliation? How can we walk together on this difficult journey toward healing and reconciliation?
Session 4: Creation as a Source of Life and Our Call to Care for It
Keynote: Fr. John McCarthy, SJ
- How does the Trinity call us to a depth of relationship with Creation?
- How does our care for Creation unite us to the Trinity?
- What are some examples of valuable facets of Creation, local to me, which are at risk of disappearing because of their other potential ‘uses’? (e.g. forests, bodies of water, etc.)
- Pope Francis tells us that “if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously” (LS’ 11).
What are some examples in my life of closeness that results in spontaneous sobriety and care? How might I concretely extend this kind of thoughtfulness and care to Creation in my home, in my community, in the world?
- Fr. McCarthy reminds us that the “loss of boundaries unsettles us” because “without an ‘outside’ there is no ‘inside’ in which to dwell”.
What habitats or protected places are important to me? How might I more fully embrace these places as they exist in Creation around me?
- Fr. McCarthy tells us that “care for nature implies a rootedness” and that “nature is a place and a purveyor of meaning.” Further, Pope Francis tells us, “Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise” (LS’ 12).
Is my knowledge of nature knowledge about nature (abstract, objective, generalizable, or expert knowledge) or is it place-based knowledge of nature (subjective, bodily, living, sensing)? How can I foster place-based knowledge of nature? How can I contemplate the joyful mystery of Creation with gladness and praise?