A rousing call to share the joy of the Gospel
By Catherine Sheehan
Archbishop Julian Porteous urged Catholics to take up the mantle of missionary discipleship to evangelise the culture in a rousing speech delivered to around 300 parishioners, parish leaders and clergy at the Parish Renewal Conference held in Sydney from 19 to 20 August.
“We have brothers and sisters in the faith within our local parish,” Archbishop Julian said.
“We do need to identify those in our parishes who are full of faith and want to live out and share this faith.
“Our parishes can become centres of missionary activity. Not necessarily in grand events, but all that is needed is a group of parishioners who want to bring the joy of the Gospel to others around them.”
Archbishop Julian said the Catholic faith was a “treasure” that needed to be shared with others.
“My brothers and sisters, we cannot keep it to ourselves. We must share it. We must enable others to discover what we have discovered. We must enable others to taste the goodness of God as we have tasted the goodness of God.”
Drawing on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, on the “Joy of the Gospel”, he said being a missionary disciple did not require becoming a “professional” through training or the study of theology.
“It just requires us to be ourselves – ourselves as joy-filled Catholics,” he said.
“Be who you are. Jesus said that his disciples are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Do not underestimate the profound truth in these words. Especially as the world grows darker with the loss of faith, those with faith will shine out more clearly.”
Archbishop Julian concluded by urging his listeners not to be afraid of up taking up their mission received through baptism to evangelise the world.
“My brothers and sisters, the Lord needs us, each of us. Will you let the Lord use you?
“We do not need to be afraid. We have everything we need.”
The conference was the initiative of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation. Other keynote speakers included Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and scripture scholar from the US, Dr Scott Hahn.
Archbishop Fisher said parishes were not meant to be places of comfort but rather places of growth which radiate God’s love.
“We must be quite deliberate about making our parishes places that radiate the love of God, places where Jesus is encountered not only within church walls but where he is taken to those outside, calling them in to his life-giving love,” Archbishop Fisher said.
Addressing the conference via video-link from the US, Dr Scott Hahn spoke about the New Evangelisation called for by St Pope John II.
“Pope John Paul II explained the New Evangelisation as re-evangelising the de-Christianised parts of the world, those parts that had lost their faith. And he called us to do it in terms of Jesus Christ who is present in the Eucharist,” Dr Hahn said.
He also encouraged the lay faithful to witness to those outside the Church through their lives.
“So many people might not darken the door of your parish or mine. The only homily they might ever hear is the kind of friendship you establish with them.”