Growing Together in Christ!

By Father Bill Swengros

Growing Together in Christ!

Recently, I’ve been meeting with our parish staff, Parish Council, and our new Evangelization Committee to prayerfully discern how to respond to the call first heard at the Second Vatican Council and echoed by every Pope since then for a new evangelization.

We often think of evangelization as missionary work, reserved for the professionals. We forget that it is our right and obligation to share our faith by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation! 

Each and every one of us who has been fully initiated into our faith by the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist has received a divine mandate “to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.” That may sound a bit ambitious. I understand. But we can start at home. 

St. Monica is our model. St. Monica was married to an unbelieving husband and her sons were not baptized. Through her efforts, her entire family was converted to faith and her son Augustine became one of the greatest saints of all time! 

What did she do? First of all, she led by example. She prayed and fasted every day and was the loving and merciful person God has called us all to be. Nothing turns off people faster from the faith than hypocrisy. That is why Jesus was so offended by it. It is so important that we practice what we preach. 

Pray and read the Bible every day, go to Mass at least every weekend, and go to confession at least monthly. Fast for the conversion of those you love and for the whole world. And finally, be known for your kindness and charity towards others. 

Second, Monica gently shared her faith with her husband and sons. When we are excited about something ... we want to tell others! Whether it is about the birth of a child, a new promotion, a great play on the field, or your kid’s accomplishments in school. 

Likewise, we must share our joy about all the wonderful things God is doing for us! As you would invite others to join you at your favorite restaurant, invite others to join you at Holy Mass or at one of our many parish events. Share your joy! 

Third, when the occasion arises, don’t be afraid to open discussions about faith. Listen. Don’t judge or argue. If they have questions you can’t answer, promise to get back to them and do your research so you can respond to their concerns (The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great resource).

St. Monica is a great model for us.

Father Swengros is pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church, Tampa.