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February 23, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
Spirit of evangelization alive
at St. Joan of Arc

 
Sacrifices of the sick not in vain,
bishop says

 
Survey on marriage,
family available through Feb. 23
Diocese embarks on
'robust renewal of faith'
 

The Diocese of Oakland is embarking in a new direction to bring about a "robust renewal of faith.

| "There is a crisis facing the Church in the West," said Margaret M. Turek, who was brought in by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, to reshape how the diocese responds to the pastoral needs of its parishes. "We must do new things to reach out and draw people back to Christ.

 
Forty Weeks
An Ignatian path
to Christ

Rev. Bill Watson, SJ, president of the Sacred Story Institute has developed a parish renewal program that helps parishes form disciples to support the New Evangelization. The workshops outline the theological and spiritual components of the process and offer ways to inspire participation.

Father Watson will present the program March 17-21 at seven geographically dispersed locations in the diocese. For more information, http://sacredstory.net and www.oakdiocese.org/ffe.
 
"Following Bishop Barber's lead, we are adopting Pope Francis' vision of the New Evangelization, which recognizes the need for healing, reconciliation and unity in the Church at every level," she said.

For the past several months, Turek has met with pastors and parish staffs throughout the diocese; they concur the diocese must focus on three priorities.

• A deep and ongoing renewal of spirituality.

• A robust renewal of faith formation.

• A new evangelization.

To implement these changes from the diocese, the former Department of Evangelization and Catechesis is no more. A new entity, the Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization will focus on healing, reconciliation and unity in providing services and support to parishes that will support the formation of "missionary disciples."

"As I said on the day I was consecrated bishop," Bishop Barber said, "I want to do in Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole Church.

"Dr. Margaret Turek has brought vision and enthusiasm to our new Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization. She has assembled a fine team to spread in Oakland Pope Francis' vision — and mine — 'to invite all Christians to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.'" (Evangelii Gaudium 3).

"Faith is a life-long journey, it is multidimensional and multigenerational," Turek said. Too often religious instruction is seen as something for the young only, but it's important too to teach adults their faith.

There are various programs used by parishes to reach out about the spiritual, prayer life and catechetical formation. Now there will be a consistent message, conveyed in many forms, from courses on spiritualty, videos, book clubs, literature, small groups, web resources and parish missions.

One that is gaining traction is Forty Weeks, developed by Rev. Bill Watson, SJ, to use Ignatian Spirituality for parish renewal. Another might be the Marian program "33 Days to Morning Glory."

But the effort is not just a program or flavor of the month, cautioned Patti Collyer, coordinator of Children and Youth Faith Formation. The goal is to promote a variety of the right resources, and at the heart is that the effort be parish-driven, Turek said.

"The effectiveness of evangelization depends on the witness of intentional disciples," Turek writes. "We need to concentrate on developing a living, personal relationship with Jesus in order to be credible witnesses to him.

"At the same time, formation in discipleship must be animated by a missionary spirit. The more deeply we know and love Jesus, the more we feel compelled to speak of him and to mirror his love in the world."

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