A Note from Fr. Gary -
The word “evangelization” is one that we hear a lot in Christian circles. To evangelize is to preach the Gospel. Christians have been evangelizing and have been called to evangelize since the very beginning of Christianity. In the last century, St. John Paul II called for a “New Evangelization,” in which the baptized themselves are the focus of the evangelizing efforts.
For us to be able to announce the Good News, to preach the Gospel, those of us who are baptized have to be rooted in that good news and willing to make it the center of our lives. In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis tells us that “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (The Joy of the Gospel, #1).
The Holy Father continues, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day” (#3).
At St. Thomas Aquinas, Our Lady Star of the Sea and St. Joseph, we have taken this call seriously and continue to strive to deepen our own relationship with Jesus Christ, and to share the fruits of that relationship with others.
This Sunday we continue our long tradition at St. Thomas to bring the presence of the Risen Christ out into the streets of Camas in our annual Corpus Christi procession. That form of evangelization can touch minds and hearts and turn people to an encounter with Jesus.
This year we are also looking forward to Camas Days with a renewed sense of our opportunity to evangelize. Our adult faith formation sessions are currently focusing on developing basic skills for evangelization.
At Our Lady Star of the Sea, we have a long history of evangelization rooted in how we care for the most vulnerable and needy among us. For many years, through the Deacon Nathe Fund, we have assisted people in the Stevenson area who are in need of food and shelter. This year we have joined other Christians in serving a meal regularly for those who are hungry, and we have embarked on a process to establish a St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference at Star of the Sea to further our efforts.
At St. Joseph we have used our outreach in the community, through our support of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, our partnership in the work of the Knights of Columbus, and participation in efforts like the Winter Hospitality Overflow Shelter and Project Homeless Connect, to preach the good news by our care for those in need.
This past year, leadership at St. Joseph has studied ways to continue to enable parishioners to grow in their faith and then to share that faith with others. Through the Be My Witness program we are embarking on a process to develop small faith sharing groups that can be a source of personal encounter with Jesus - an encounter that empowers us to share the Good News in our everyday lives.
In the coming days, months and years, may these efforts in all three of our communities help all of us toward a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ, and empower us to share him and his message with those we meet.
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni