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New evangelization focus of spring gathering

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

Whether it be business or ministry, a guest speaker at the upcoming 2014 Spring Gathering for parish leaders said if you are not growing, you’re dying.

Designed for directors of religious education, youth ministers and other parish staff, this year’s spring gathering will be held from 3:30 to 8 p.m. April 3 at Trinity Heights in Sioux City.

Guest speakers are Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministries.

“One talk will be on faith and prayer, renewing and recommitting to our faith in Christ and our prayer life,” said Brandt. “The second talk will be how that prayer life manifests itself through the seven pillars of effective evangelization. It will look at how we can recommit ourselves to our faith so that we can be more effective in bringing others to the faith.”

Justin Frato, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life, said the gathering will offer a combination of faith formation and personal faith enrichment.

“We want to support them and give them a chance at networking with people in the same field,” he said. “We have discussion time built in so they can talk about what is happening in other parishes.”

Last fall they added in time for adoration, which was well received.

Sean Martin, diocesan director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life, said parish leaders come together in the fall and spring to network, pray and learn together.

“We provide them with information as to what is happening in our office and having a speaker is really important to be able to bring back new ideas to their parish and refresh their ministries,” he said.

Since all of the ministries should be focused on spreading the Gospel message, Martin said the focus of the talks on the new evangelization is very fitting.

“We want to be bringing people into the church, feeding them and sustaining them,” he said. “Our jobs are to begin with evangelization and then catechesis. In our parishes, we have mainly focused on catechesis but we have to make sure that we are also evangelizing – that we are placing people in an intimate communion, in a relationship with Jesus otherwise our catechesis does not make sense.”

Brandt referred to St. Bernard of Clairvaux who said many people believe themselves to be channels, but reservoirs were needed.

“If we are giving, giving, giving and we don’t take time to stop and fill ourselves with God’s grace through prayer and sacrifice, how can we expect ourselves to go out there and be effective in feeding others?” he asked. “If we become reservoirs, we fill ourselves with God’s grace and that can overflow to the people we are serving within our ministries.”

Brandt stressed the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to grow “so we can go back to our parishes and really change lives.”

If parish leaders plan to attend, they should contact Judy Forrest by March 28 by e-mail at judyf@scdiocese.org or by phone at (712) 233-7520.

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