Thomas G. Cronin
Thomas G. Cronin

Welcome to Everyday Evangelization! This is the first of what will be a monthly column on evangelization.

As Advisor to the Bishop for Evangelization, I have the honor of traveling across the 14 counties of our vast Diocese meeting with pastors, parish leaders and parishioners discussing evangelization.

Evangelization is typically viewed as complex or something that as Catho­lics we don’t do. I am humbled to be in a position to lead collaborative discussions at our 126 parishes that address these misnomers and share ideas on how we can evangelize better.

So, the most logical place to start this column is how I typically start my parish meetings by discussing the question: What is evangelization?
There are countless resources explaining what evangelization means, which can range from highly theological to very simple. Two widely used phrases include: “Sharing the Good News” and “Spreading the Joy of the Gospel.” I like these two phrases, but have some concern that more than a few people may view them as cliché.

After 23 years of corporate experience, in my opinion, it is best to explain evangelization in the most simplistic way possible since the actual word itself is the first hurdle to cross.

As I pray and reflect about what evangelization means to me, my favorite explanation is — to share my contagious joy and love of knowing Jesus with others. Simple statement, but one which requires further discussion specific to its practical implementation. All of my parish meetings, collaborative discussions and presentations focus on practical ways to share our faith and it is my intent to do the same here.

Another question to tackle in this first column is — why is evangelization so important?  Because evangelization is the mission of our Church. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commanded His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  Today, our job is to be “modern- day disciples” and to go and share our love of Jesus with others. Let’s take a look at what three of my evangelization heroes have to say:In Blessed Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, he states, “The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.”

In St. John Paul II’s encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, he states, “Evangelization is the primary service which the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity.”

In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he states, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization.” In essence, our baptism gives each of us the right and the responsibility to evangelize regardless of our position in the Church or level of instruction in the faith.

In the next column of Everyday Evangelization, I will outline some “housekeeping” details as it relates to evangelization. I will then dive into the four pillars of evangelization that I have created from various resources and experiences. After that, there are many paths to go down, but we will see where the Holy Spirit takes us, because we cannot evangelize without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Please contact me with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at Thomas.Cronin@rcda.org or by visiting https://www.rcda.org/offices/evangelization.