by Deacon Adrian Cullen, Evangelisation Coordinator
April truly is the time to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ! Easter has arrived and we, the Easter People, are no longer in the power of death, but look now to everlasting life. It is a message that we must share. Jesus greets the joy of Mary Magdalene with the command: ‘go and tell my brothers that I go before them to Galilee’. In our joy, we too must take that message to others: that Jesus goes before us to our heavenly Father, to an everlasting joy that all who follow Jesus will one day share.
Although the light of the Resurrection now replaces the darkness of Calvary, many people we encounter each day still live in shadow. As missionary disciples of Jesus, we are to bring his light to them. We do this through the continuing process of Proclaim Westminster by which we tell the Good News to those who have not heard it, or have forgotten it. Through the Good News of Easter, people have their lives renewed, just as the coming of spring renews nature.
Each spring we rediscover the joys of nature’s new birth, which never fails to give us hope for the coming year. Likewise it is the constant re-telling of the Easter story, for some it will be the first time they hear it, that will bring hope to those we meet. Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium tells us how ‘we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma’. He goes on to say that the ‘first proclamation must ring out over and over: Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you’ (EG 164). This message is at the heart of Proclaim Westminster that touches on every part of parish life, Catholic communities, and individuals: that Jesus loves us, and that he invites us to share his life.
Through Proclaim Westminster, parishes share the message of Easter through a wide range of initiatives and activities. Some have developed wonderful liturgies that help worshippers glimpse the mystery of the Eucharist, that thanksgiving for the Risen Christ. Other parishes have looked at how they can be more welcoming through active and joyful hospitality, as they greet friends and strangers to Sunday Mass. Many have been running small groups, learning more about their Lord Jesus, and how they can become more faithful disciples. While in other parishes the role of charity has been, and continues to be, expanded, showing the mercy of God through practical and loving care for those in need. For all the command is there: to go and tell my brothers and sisters that ‘I go before them’. These initiatives are supported by Parish Evangelisation Teams, which, led by the Parish Priest, help to develop their call by Pope Francis to form ‘missionary parishes’.
Spring is a good time of year to show what already goes on in the parish, and encourage others to get involved. At St Matthew’s, Northwood, the parish held a Proclaim Fair to show parishioners and visitors the range of activities that already happen in the parish. Liz Duggan reported that: ‘Our parish fair was very successful, many parishioners attended and all groups from the parish participated. There was a great sense of community and teamwork. Each parish group had a stand and were promoting their group’s work, ranging from CAFOD, Catholic Children’s Society, Mary’s Meals, CCR prayer group, UCM, Choir, Sunday School, and the Big Breakfast Team.’
Of course, every day and every season is a good time to proclaim. For example, in May we will see a global prayer movement for evangelisation, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, resources for which are being sent out to parishes. In June there is the Spirit in the City festival which proclaims the Good News in the heart of London. More information will be available on the diocesan website. Whatever the season, we are called to share the Easter message of joy to all, and to continue Proclaim Westminster.