By Armelle Lee and Daniel Stevens
‘Let everything we do flow through Christ’, Cardinal Vincent told the assembled media at a press conference ahead of the National Evangelisation Conference, part of Proclaim 15’, which is being held in Birmingham on 11 July.
An estimated 850 delegates will attend the Conference representing each diocese in England and Wales. The Cardinal called this a ‘historic meeting’ taking place after two years of preparation, which aims to build missionary parishes across England and Wales. The Cardinal said that the Proclaim initiative should be ‘rooted in our relationship with Christ’ and should ‘flow from the desire to share the gifts we are given’. Bishop Nicholas added that Proclaim ‘15 is a ‘national response to the Pope’s call to be creative and bold in our evangelisation’.
The Cardinal invited all parishes to pray on the evening of the day that the conference is taking place. The importance of prayer was also emphasised as the core of growth in Spirit and allowing the seeds of the Gospel to grow in people’s lives to create a desire to go out and not only spread the word of God, but also show others the Word of God.
The Cardinal then spoke about using faith in God as a resource for evangelisation and the need to ‘befriend God’. Clare Ward backed this up and stated that a parish, by its very nature, needs evangelisation to survive and flourish.
She said that no parish should feel forced to take part in the initiative and that it has to be done freely to be fruitful. ‘This is why prayer is so essential, if we are mentally unsure we should turn to God’, she said. Ward then spoke about ‘non- church going Catholics’ and young people being two of the priorities of evangelisation in parishes today. She explained that these two groups would be a focus of the workshops on 11July and called faith a ‘big part of social cohesion’.
Four keynote speakers will lead the Conference and 17 practitioners will lead 11 workshops, each of which will look at fresh methods of evangelisation, focusing on the question of how to evangelise to different groups of people in different situations and how parishes should approach this new initiative individually.
A legacy document will be released on Home Mission Sunday, 20 September, containing videos and key speeches from the Conference, as well a report and 60-100 tips on how to evangelise, which will be available for every parish in England and Wales. This will be an ‘irresistible resource for all parishes to help them follow the Proclaim ‘15 initiative’. Bishop Nicholas said he envisaged parishes sitting down and watching these videos together, asking themselves what they are doing well already and how can they ‘develop in the light of Evangelii Gaudium’.