What is the "New Evangelization"?

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By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

In recent times, a reference to the "New Evangelization" is frequently used among the Catholic population. People are asking about the real meaning of the "New Evangelization" and what does it call us to?" Evangelization is not a new concept. It dates back to the first disciples of Jesus who were sent out to share the Good News of the Gospel with all people. It was the final mandate of Jesus to "Go tell all nations…" Like them, each one of us is commissioned to be an evangelizer and to use the gifts we have been given and to live and share the truths of the Gospel. We do not do it alone. We have the gifts of the Spirit to empower and sustain us all along the way.

In October 2011, a Congress was held at the Vatican to look at the topic of the "New Evangelization." Participants came from around the world and shared many ideas, hopes and dreams for a renewed commitment to evangelization. Pope Benedict XV1 described the renewal in these words: "Christ comes to teach us the art of living… The world today needs people who speak to God in order to be able to speak about God. To be an evangelizer is not a privilege. It is a task of our faith: "Lord, send me."

There will be another meeting on the new Evangelization at the next Synod of Bishops meeting in October 2012. Fr. Bruno Cadore, OP, Master General of the Dominican Order is one of ten elected to be present at the Synod meeting. He will represent the broader church as well as the Dominicans there, since we are a "Family of Preachers." They will join together with Brothers and Sisters from around the world to explore how to passionately preach and live the Gospel at this time in our history. Searching for the truth and living the Gospel, especially in our compassionate response to the needs of our time, will be considered at this Synod meeting.

Church leaders today are seeing a great loss of members in the Catholic Church around the world. . People are moving away from the church and from their faith or seeking new expressions of their faith. This trend is especially noticeable among young people, and often a small number attend church services on a weekly basis. They are still searching and hoping for a firm spiritual base that they can relate to, as well as some meaningful ways to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised of our time and to offer them hope and meaning for a more humane future. Youth are also seeking meaningful dialog about their spiritual and religious issues. Deep listening is needed to hear their concerns and to invite their ideas on ways to enliven their faith. We can demonstrate for them what it means to live our faith by working together for the good of all people and sharing our compassion with those most in need. Families and Catechists will also play an important role in the evangelization program. Youth learn content and practice from these groups. Pope John Paul 11 in his address to the Bishops of Latin America invited all to "Look to the future with commitment to a new evangelization, one that is new in its ardor, new in its methods, and new in its expression." A good topic for discussion is "What is the new thing God is doing today?" We can share out thoughts and suggestions with church leaders and others involved in shaping the future.

What can we do individually and organizationally to contribute to this endeavor, "The New Evangelization?"

  • Each one of us can deepen our faith through study, discussion, prayer and reflecting on the Word of God. We need to let the Word get inside of us, transform our lives, and lead us to live what we believe. Jesus assures us that he is "the way, the truth and the life." Stop and examine how we live the Gospel and preach it by the witness of our lives. Is there a way we can share the Good News with those disconnected from the church or from their own spiritual gifts?
  • Listen deeply to the hopes and dreams of people of all ages, in order to have a better understanding of ways to respond to their needs. Pay special attention to the hopes and dreams of the younger generation and give serious consideration to their ideas for deepening and living our faith.
  • Encourage parishes and Diocesan groups to meet and share ideas on revitalizing their membership. Help them to examine their present ministries and look at better practices. Name what the people are hoping for, especially the younger members and name the blocks and barriers to meaningful spirituality and faith-filled living and the practice of their beliefs. Where do people need encouragement and motivation? How will we provide it?
  • Read and study some of the resources provided. One good resource is an article on "The New Evangelization" in Origins, CNS Documentary Service, Washington DC. 20017, March 1, 2012 issue, Volume 41.Number 38. Go to
  • Encourage good preaching in parish churches and provide training and evaluation of homilies as needed.
  • Look at ways to provide and nurture good leadership in parishes. There is a great shortage of priests and this creates opportunities for others to share their gifts. Look at the roles of deacons, women and youth. How will we empower them and open doors for them to be leaders? Encourage church leadership to address these issues. We also need to restore people’s faith in church leadership tarnished by stories of abuse and other issues.
  • All of us need to stop and examine how we live the Gospel and preach it by the witness of our lives. How do we share the Gospel message with people who are now disconnected from the church and faith issues? Some parishes are inviting speakers to address the issue and its implications in their lives.

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Vatican 11, beginning in 2012, may we begin to rekindle the fervor of the promise offered by the Council for a church that would promote more lay participation, leadership, social action and a commitment to the common good. May we move forward together with courage, conviction and hope.

Preaching Essay Archive

Just click on an Essay title below to read it.
(The latest submissions are listed first.)

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• “Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge •
• What is the "New Evangelization"? •
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• Inculturated Liturgy Challenges Preaching to Flower •
• Preaching Lent - Year C •
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• The Sacred Triduum •
• Welcoming the Stranger •
• Working for Peace •


Blessings on your preaching.

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