Rev. Alexander Q. Castillo began his first meeting with the staff of the Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization by celebrating the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples.
On Oct. 1, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, named Father Castillo, a native of Costa Rica who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Oakland in 2011, director of the Department of Faith Formation and Evangelization.
The department's work encompasses faith formation for children and youth, young adults and adults, as well as marriage and family life, life and justice, Latino ministry and SPRED, the ministry to people with developmental disabilities.
"I couldn't think of anything more important to say to them than the words of consecration," he said, "From there, all we do is for that."
Father Castillo also serves as the bishop's secretary and episcopal master of ceremonies, director of the Office of Worship, and academic dean for the Spanish-language division of the St. Francis de Sales School for Pastoral Ministry. He will continue in all of those roles.
Of his newest role, Father Castillo said, "I am the one who needs to learn how the department works."
"First, we need to pay attention to those still in the church but they are not involved in the church," he said. An example might be parents who take their child to faith formation, but are not involved themselves.
"Pope Francis has been emphasizing the first movement of evangelization cannot be doctrine anymore," Father Castillo said. "People don't respond to doctrine. They don't respond to experts. They respond to witnesses.
"So the first movement of evangelization needs to be showing them the fruits of the Gospels in our own lives, showing them what the Lord has done for me," he said. He said empowering parents to do the same would be a priority.
Next, Father Castillo said, "is to embrace the missionary face of the church, those who have never heard, or believed in, Christ."
He recalled Pope John Paul II's admonition that if the church is not a missionary church, it is not the church of Christ.
"The church is not here for itself," he said, "it's here for the sanctification of the world."
The end of the year brings many opportunities that cannot be missed, such as the Dec. 2 pilgrimage of Our Lady of Guadalupe that brings thousands through the streets of Oakland.
"They feel the presence of God because the pilgrimage brings that to them," he said.
In appointing Father Castillo to the new position, Bishop Barber said in a statement: "Father Castillo's deep commitment to our faith and to the people of God in our Diocese is inspiring. I know he will lead our work in faith formation and evangelization with integrity and fidelity."
"I am deeply humbled by Bishop's Barber decision to entrust me with this mission," Father Castillo said in a statement. "I embrace this new responsibility with much hope, and trust in our Good Lord and our bishop more than myself. I repeat the prayer of one of my favorite saints as I face this new challenge: 'Fiat, adimpleatur, laudetur et in aeternum superexaltetur iustissima atque amabilissima voluntas Dei super omnia. Amen. Amen.' (Above all, may the most just and most lovable will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised, and exalted forever. Amen. Amen!)"
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