By Tim Harfmann
‘Be bold’ and build up the Catholic faith! That was the missionary commitment at the core of a Catechetical Congress held Saturday, April 6th, at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens. Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio headed up the event, which brought together Catholic leaders from across the diocese, the nation, and the Vatican. They spoke to hundreds who had come to hear ideas about boldly strengthening the Church. “They have to have courage. They have to try to do things that maybe they’re a little bit afraid to do, or they have to reach out beyond the limits,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The Congress was the latest step in the bishop’s drive to inspire a new evangelization. Less than two years ago, he created a new office to boost the growth of Catholicism — the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis. Some of the top issues it is focused on: parish life, faith formation, and the family. “We need to be a diocese of welcome. We need to be a diocese that invites people to share in the great wisdom of the Church, but also to remember that we’re all on a journey. So, join us wherever you are,” said Theodore Musco, who is in charge of the office.
Roseanne Barber is active at her church, Saint Gregory the Great in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “I know that I am walking the walk of Jesus. I know that I am doing what He is calling me to do,” said Barber, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and arrived in the United States in 1975.
Immigration was something the Vatican’s evangelization Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst talked about while he was at the congress; “The migration challenge can be an occasion for evangelization. So, we are the universal Church in different languages, different cultures; but we are able to fight together, to stick together in this unifying faith.”
Bishop DiMarzio celebrated Mass and also presented an award to Father Frank DeSiano, president of the Paulist Evangelization Ministries. Father DeSiano spent a lot of time in the Brooklyn diocese, helping to setup evangelization committees in a number of parishes. “If we keep presenting ourselves as an organization you got to belong to, rather than a family that welcomes you; people aren’t going to hear that because it’s not the time for big organizations, but everybody needs to be connected,” said Father DeSiano.
“We’re always looking for new ways to enliven our programs, change according to society and the needs of the people in our parishes. And I came away with a lot of good tips and ideas,” said Lisa Sampson, director of religious education at Our Lady of Light parish in Saint Albans, Queens.
Bishop Tebartz-van Elst took what he learned at the Congress back to the Vatican’s council on evangelization, where the ideas could be used to create policies for the universal Church.