Take up the call of the New Evangelization, speaker says

Take up the call of the New Evangelization, speaker says

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SEWELL — At the Aquin Center at the Church of the Holy Family, Ralph Martin encouraged his packed audience to take up the call of the New Evangelization in helping their spiritual brothers and sisters understand God’s plan of salvation.

Martin, president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization, spoke to almost 300 individuals, comprised of clergy, religious, lay ministers and interested parishioners. Bishop Dennis Sullivan also attended part of the daylong program.

In addition to his position with Renewal Ministries, Martin is also the director of the graduate theology program in evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and last fall he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization.

He is the author of “Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization.”

The day was sponsored by the Diocese of Camden’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation.”

In three workshops — “What is the New Evangelization? Why Bother?”, “The Call to Mission Derives from the Call to Holiness” and “A New Pentecost for a New Evangelization: Activating the Laity” — Martin provided a history of the New Evangelization, and how Holy Scripture, Vatican II, and papal documents shaped its definition.

To define evangelization, Martin said, one must look to the 1975 papal document Evangelii Nuntiandi, and Pope Paul VI’s words that evangelization should “always contain — as the foundation, center and at the same time, summit of its dynamism — a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.”

Fifteen years later, Pope John Paul II’s Redemptoris Missio called for a “new evangelization,” new in “ardor, methods and expression” directed toward baptized individuals from traditional Christian backgrounds who “have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the church.”

This form of evangelization is geared to “a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith,” Martin said.

With the de-Christianization of American culture today — Martin pointed out that Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington calls today’s times a “tsunami of secularism” — the salvation of souls is at stake, he said.

Martin reminded all in attendance of their duty, as Christians, to take up the universal call to holiness. In making a spiritual commitment to understanding faith, Catholics may better be able to “proclaim the Word of God with confidence, faith and love,” he said.

Martin quoted Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi: “The world is calling for evangelizers to speak to it of a God whom the evangelists themselves should know and be familiar with as if they could see the invisible.”

We can do this, Martin said, through the witness of living holy lives, performing works of mercy, and telling others of Jesus.”

Bill Skorko was among the attendees impressed with Martin’s presentation.

“God is blessing us with the Holy Spirit coming forth, and leading our diocese, and the whole church, to a new evangelization,” said Skorko, head of New Evangelization Ministry at St. Peter Parish in Merchantville, who also helps out with adult education, youth group, and religious education at the parish.”

Lois Dark, director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Center at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, was happy that Dr. Martin “said what needs to be said, and brought us back to the roots of our faith.  He urged us to be joyful in our faith, and share it.”

“I will incorporate what I’ve learned, in how (the Catholic Campus Ministry Center) reaches out to students,” she said.

“It was great to see so many leaders coming from several parishes around the Diocese. We noticed the enthusiasm of people to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to share the love of God with everyone in their parishes,” said Andres Arango, director of Evangelization, Diocese of Camden.

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