‘Making Jesus known and loved’
For Archbishop Christopher Prowse, it’s “making Jesus known and loved”.
But when it comes to bringing the Good News of the Gospels to others, it’s “what you are perhaps, more than what you say” that “shouts out” the most.
The Catholic understanding of evangelisation was the subject of the Archbishop’s address during a live stream broadcast around Australia last Friday morning. The presentation was part of the Archdiocese’s hosting of the second plenary session of the “Evangelise 2022” online conference (20-22 October).
Archbishop Prowse is the national chair of the Australian Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, which facilitated the conference.
For the Archbishop, evangelisation’s engine room was an individual’s personal encounter with God that led to becoming Christ’s disciple through repentance, conversion, and coming to believe the “Good News” of the Gospels.
Evangelisation was not about waving the finger, the Archbishop said. It’s not being an idealogue or a proselytiser.
It’s how to “propose” and not “impose” and being “witnesses” to the faith rather than its “teachers”; it’s just “being there” with people in a loving, motherly, ‘Marian’ and synodal (walking together) way.
Paraphrasing Pope Saint John Paul II and “giving us something to memorise”, the Archbishop summarised evangelisation as: “all the church to preach all the gospel to all the people, to all the world, all the time.”
Several community representatives joined Archbishop Prowse during the live stream to share their personal perspectives on evangelisation.
Sid Mattappallil of ‘Jesus Youth’, an international charismatic youth movement, was one of the representatives. The idea of evangelisation starting from a personal encounter with God was one that resonated with him.
“When you sit down in prayer with him, he gives you that personal mission. And from that personal mission comes a community mission and then the broader given mission.”
Separate from the live stream, the Archdiocese hosted a breakfast gathering of teachers of religious education, youth leaders, clergy and religious, and other leaders to discuss evangelisation in their local contexts.
Nicola Edghill, an assistant principal of St Clare’s College, told the Catholic Voice she welcomed the opportunity to meet with other faith leaders to share perspectives that went beyond her education settings.
She felt the Archbishop had described evangelisation beautifully with his paraphrased reference to “all the church to preach all the gospel…”.
Her colleague Jonathan Moyle from Mary MacKillop College suggested students were at different points on their faith journey and sometimes got a “bit challenged” if they “got a sniff that some things might be doctrinal.”
But he believed they would warm to the idea of making “our faith our own, shared as a church”.
If you strip away all the “white noise” it gets down to being a “personal encounter with Christ”, he said.