How Does a Catholic Parish Evangelize?

Since 1975 when Pope Paul VI unveiled his apostolic exhortation On Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi) Catholics have understood the task of evangelization as bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and serving as ambassadors of the Gospel to all that we meet.

In his apostolic letter, "Porta Fidei" published in 2011, the Holy Father invites all Catholics to "...set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance."  In the National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, the U.S. Bishops describe how Catholic parishes can respond in more practical terms:  

The goal of increasing the enthusiasm of the faithful is accomplished as a parish addresses these objectives:

  • To foster an experience of conversion and renewal in the heart of every believer, leading to a more active living of Catholic life.
  • To foster an experience of conversion and renewal in every parish.
  • To foster an appreciation of God's word in the lives of all Catholics.
  • To make the evangelizing dimension of the Sunday Eucharist more explicit.
  • To foster an appreciation of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and all the sacraments, the sacred signs of our Catholic life.
  • To foster a greater appreciation of the power of God's word in our worship.
  • To foster an even deeper sense of prayer among our Catholic people.
  • To foster a renewed understanding of the faith among Catholics.
  • To foster a sense of discipleship among Catholic adults and children.
  • To foster active and personal religious experience through participation in small-group and other communal experiences in which the Good News is shared, experienced and applied to daily life.
  • To foster a sense of the domestic church within households in which families, individuals, and groups reside.
  • To promote and develop a spirituality for the workplace.
  • To foster greater appreciation of cultural and ethnic spirituality.

 The task of inviting others to share faith in Jesus Christ is accomplished by parishes that address these objectives:
  • To help every Catholic feel comfortable about sharing his or her faith and inviting people to discover Christ in our Catholic family of believers.
  • To equip and empower our active Catholic members to exercise their baptismal call to evangelize.
  • To use special times in parish and family life to invite people to faith.
  • To cultivate an active core of the baptized to serve as ministers of evangelization in their parishes, dioceses, neighborhoods, workplaces, and homes.
  • To invite effectively people to our Church.
  • To design programs of outreach for those who have ceased being active in the Church.
  • To design programs that reach out in particular ways to those who do not participate in a church community or who seek the fullness of faith.
  • To foster cultural diversity within the unity of the Church.
  • To deepen ecumenical involvement.

 The aim of exercising faith that will transform the world is achieved by parishes that address these objectives:
  • To involve parishes and local service groups in the needs of their neighborhood.To foster the importance of the family.
  • To develop groups to explore issues of the workplace and lay spirituality.
  • To encourage Catholic witness in the arts and in the American intellectual community.
  • To involve every Catholic, on different levels, in areas of public policy.
  • To involve the Catholic Church, on every level, in the media.
  • To involve Catholics, at every level, in questions of economic systems.

For more on the essentials of Catholic evangelization view Go and Make Disciples at USCCB.

For more ways to implement this plan in the parish view: