December 2016 / January 2017
Advent, the Church’s new year; and as with all ‘new years’ it is a time for making new plans, renewing old plans and putting new energies into what has gone before. In 2016 we have seen in many parishes the unfolding of ‘Proclaim’ – the new evangelisation. Launched in 2015, with conferences in Birmingham and Westminster, Proclaim has been taken forward through the work of Evangelisation Groups who are building Missionary Parishes.
At one parish in north London the evangelisation group recently held an ‘outreach’ session on the local high street, talking to people about their faith, and praying with them. While an evangelisation group in Hertfordshire has facilitated Year of Mercy events, and helped to start a home-visiting group for the elderly. Each parish in its own way is making Christ more visible to the world.
As we prepare for Christmas, Pope Benedict reminds us that there are many people who don’t know Jesus. Like the shepherds some people are close by - but they need the angel messengers to tell them that Jesus is waiting for them. For others, like the Kings, they are a long way from Jesus, and need the star to lead them to the crib.
In the dark months of winter when the pressures of the world can weigh down on people, perhaps we too can be messengers, or stars that lead the way to Jesus. This is what evangelisation is: bringing the Light of the World into people’s lives; and for some, a new evangelisation, a reawakening of something that has been lost.
The start of the New Year is a new start for me too, as I take on the full-time role of Evangelisation Coordinator across the Diocese. Working with the Director of Evangelisation, Fr Chris Vipers, I look forward to working with parish evangelisation groups to carry on and build Proclaim through the coming year.
Pope Francis tells us that “With Christ, joy is constantly born anew”. And he calls on us to be Missionary Disciples. As we celebrate Advent, share the joys of Christmas and start the New Year; let each one of us consider how we can bring the joy of Christ into people’s lives and ‘Proclaim 2017’!
Deacon Adrian Cullen