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Souls Matter – We are in a Battle of Souls

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Reflections and recap from the two day "New Evengelization Summit" aimed at inspiring and empowering Catholics to evangelize.

The New Evangelization Summit 2017
May 12 & 13, 2017

I was pleased to be able to attend this Summit aimed at inspiring and empowering Catholics to evangelize. The talks provided a combination of inspirational personal testimonies and helpful advice and guidance on evangelization. There were approximately 400 participants at the Ottawa main site of the Summit and hundreds more across 37 host sites throughout North America and including one in Nicaragua. More information on the speakers can be found at And CDs and DVDs of the conference can be purchased online here.

The following are some points that I took away from the Summit:

Michael Dopp, Founder of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries and the New Evangelization Summit

Since the first NE Summit 2 ½ years ago:
• many stores of people who have shared their faith and lives that were changed
• many parishes have started NE teams.
• people are now in the church who were not there 2 ½ years ago
• Souls matter – we are in a battle of souls

Peter Herbeck, TV & radio host, and author

Began with a personal testimony about how his father was healed from an addiction to alcohol and how the whole family rediscovered their faith. He followed with powerful statements about overcoming the current world culture.

• The church was born of the Holy Spirit
• The same power of the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost is here now
• Faith gives rise to hope that what God did in Jesus He will do for us; gives us courage to love like Jesus
• Much of what is seen today is a lack of confidence in the church
• Now is a time of confusion; there is much anger
• Humanity is losing its bearings – Jesus, the Light of the World, is the way out of the darkness
• The culture, the opinions of men and women today, is becoming accepted and we begin to conform to this, falling to a slavery of untruth
• The evil one is stirring the pot to cause division among people but the Holy Spirit is stirring the people of God to overcome the world view
• Faith and the Gospel message are the antidote to the world today
• We need to have a passion to save souls and allow God to use the Holy Spirit to rejuvenate our faith and give us courage
• Love of God through the Holy Spirit gives us mercy, courage and compassion to love those in the world.

Sr. Miriam James Heidland, Missionary with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

Sr. Miriam’s personal story is a testimony to God’s healing power. With the help of a few godly people she was able to encounter Jesus and overcome addiction, depression and more to where she speaks and inspires others to seek this same encounter. (Her story is contained in her book titled “Loved As I Am”)

Some points I noted from her talk:
• The desire for God is written in the human heart
• God augments us; He calls us into His own divine life
• We meet Christ when in times of trouble. He comes to empower us and heal us.
• The encounter with God goes to the very heart, the place of covenant
• We are a resurrection people

Fr. Michael White, Priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore & Tom Corcoran, Associate to the pastor of Church of the Nativity in Maryland

In a joint presentation they outlined their experiences in growing their parish in Maryland. They have co-authored a book on the subject titled “rebuilt The Story of a Catholic Parish”

• Their church was not growing
• They were getting burned out; all their focus was on expanding programs and activities for the congregation
• Their programs and activities were not creating disciples but “consumers”
• Looked at mega churches such as Saddleback, North Point, Willow Creek and were especially amazed at the people not just the size of their campuses; the people were so welcoming and friendly
• Developed 3 strategies: 1: change the focus from churched people to unchurched people; 2) prioritize the weekend experience, i.e. the Mass & programs surrounding it; 3) challenge church people to take responsibility: a) for their own faith journey and b) for the mission of the church to create disciples of others
• As part of this strategy they looked at identifying who the unchurched person was, and what was there at their church on the weekend to interest that person (realized they were really competing with his/her leisure time on the weekend)
• Determined that in order to show value in the weekend Mass, needed to focus on the a) music, b) the message/sermon and c) the lay ministers

a) Music: was seen to have the greatest potential; music can change a person’s heart; it can lead us to the realm of higher things
Action: Began praying and fasting for change in the music; to find the right people with both the skill and desire (the right heart)

b) The message: the unchurched person needs to see the relevance of God’s Word to their lives today; when seeing relevance, the person can go deeper into The Word.
Action: Kept the same sermon topic for a few consecutive weeks to retain a focus

c (i) Lay ministers: needed layers of welcoming - host ministers, greeters, coffee ministers, parking attendants.
Action: all needed to show a welcoming place to dispel the initial feeling of the unchurched that they are not welcome
c(ii) Children’s ministers: needed to provide support for the parents so they could relax and focus on the message.
Action: a kid’s zone, areas for different age groups, where the children could learn about church at their level and give the parents time apart. The children tend to be natural evangelizers when they are interested and enjoying their experience.

• All of the above resulted in turning a sleepy parish into a Spirit-filled one. The parish size tripled with volunteers and offerings increasing as well

Patrick Sullivan, founder of Evango Catholic Ministries

• To communicate in evangelization we need to speak to each person in their language
• Speak to their heart
• Each individual responds to one of the following: truth, beauty or goodness
• Determine what their language is and then approach them in that manner
• Is their first language to seek the truth (debate), or to appreciate beauty in art/music, or do they firstly appreciate helping, doing good for others Meghann Baker, Mom, catechist, and active parishioner
• Outlined the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Program for children
• The program is a contemplative Montessori-based faith formation for children aged 3-12 years.
• A hands on experience for the children to ponder and celebrate the profound mysteries of the faith, revealed in Scripture and Liturgy. For details visit

Bishop Robert Barron, Founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

• Crisis today of the “Nones” those who identify in surveys as having “no” religious affiliation (none of the above)
• The nones in the U.S. have grown by 40% in less than 30 years
• Top reasons are the beliefs that: 1) science disproves religion; religion is not rational 2) religion is wishful thinking/ fantasy 3) religion is behind most of the violence in the world
• Need to recover our religious doctrine to have better arguments to those espoused by the new atheists (Harris, Hitchins, Dawkins) who have a good following of young people

1) Science disproves religion/not rational
• Science is good but “scientism” is not
• Scientism is the redirecting of all knowledge to science, seeing all things being one cause among a range of contingent causes
• But God is not one item, one cause among many; He is one non-contingent form; God’s existence cannot be proved through rational scientific investigation
• He is the reason why the universe exists, comparable to looking for the architect of a building within the building he made
• St. Thomas Aquinas’ arguments for God’s existence in his works Summa Theologiae have a galvanizing effect. We need to recover these arguments
• Some of the most rational people were deeply religious

2) Wishful thinking
• Using that argument against religion we could say that atheism is wishful thinking so as to avoid the need to follow any sort of values, freedom to do what one wants without fear of judgment
• The human heart is hungry for the truth, the will seeks good, justice and beauty and strives for more, hungry for God

3) Religion behind Violence
• Irrationality not religion leads to violence
• “The Encyclopaedia of Wars” by Charles Phillips & Alan Axelrod which studies all wars since recorded time shows that 7% of wars could be accredited to religion
• Main reasons for war are economic, political and power seeking.
• Of those accredited to religion it really means that a lot of religious people did not line up to the values of religion

In the closing remarks by Peter Herbeck and Michael Dopp it was stressed that we are in the final chapter of human history, time is urgent.

• The main thing is to have courage and faith to move forward
• Anxiety arising due to what is happening in the world; this steals our peace and confidence and we lose clarity of why we’re here
• This affects our ability to pray
• Need quiet intimacy with the Lord for His guidance
• God wants a fearless church filled with the Holy Spirit
• Awake to what is going on in the world & stand firm
• Mission focus: prayer; communion, discernment of God’s Word and discipleship
• Need simple people with big faith
• Respond with a complete “yes” to the mission of making disciples just as Mary responded to the Angel Gabriel’s message to her that she would give birth to Jesus

One of the follow up steps from the Summit is The Alpha program. Alpha is growing in the Catholic context as a concrete expression of the New Evangelization. It consists of a series of interactive sessions that explore the basics of the Christian faith. All the material is available online and is free to download at Josh Canning, who was the Master of Ceremonies for the Summit, is the Catholic Church Coordinator and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Next year’s NE Summit is scheduled for April 27-28, 2018.

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trudy2017 profile330By Trudy Connelly, Church Relations

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