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Vicar's Musings for Trinity Sunday

26 May, 2013

Catholic Evangelism (1998) is the title of a still very useful little book by Stephen Cottrell, who now serves the Church of England as Bishop of Chelmsford. In the introduction he asks the question: what is Catholic Evangelism? The rest of the book is of course about answering this crucial question, but his opening summary is worth quoting in full:

Catholic evangelism is about the journey of faith. It begins when a community of believers understands its vocation as sharing in God's mission of love to the world. Catholic evangelism is about becoming a missionary and evangelistic church. Its first fruit is renewed service to the local community. Catholic evangelism is shaped by Catholic spirituality. It is about the incarnation — finding God in human life — and it is about service. Its method is that of the accompanied church. We learn how to share faith with people, challenge people to respond to the call of the gospel and accompany them on a journey that leads to commitment and church membership. Catholic evangelism will be rooted in the ideas of the catechuminate. It will also be about bringing people to the life of the church, as well as to personal commitment to Jesus. It will help people grow to maturity of faith and active discipleship. The aim of Catholic evangelism is that all baptised Christians should share an apostolic ministry.

One of the central items discussed at Vestry this week was a proposal to bring Bishop Stephen Cottrell to Australia in 2015. This will be part of a major initiative of the parish over the next two years. I have asked Bishop Graeme to chair a "Catholic Evangelism" committee, that will develop and oversee a strategic direction for the parish, culminating in Bishop Cottrell's visit. We will be studying Bishop Cottrell's book in study groups; we will develop a programme of courses and parish activities around the theme; we will look at reinstituting a robust catechuminate programme for new members and those seeking baptism, confirmation, reception and renewal.

One of the first inititives, and the formal launch of our programme, will take place on the Feast of the Assumption, on Thursday 15th August this year. The guest preacher at the 6.15pm High Mass will be the Rev'd Dr Scott Cowdell, lecturer at St Mark's Theological College in Canberra, who will be preaching on the theme of "Evangelical Catholicism". Following the Mass there will be a dinner, at which a panel of leading Catholic thinkers and practitioners will respond to Fr Scott's sermon. It will be a significant event that we hope will be well attended by parishioners as well as others from neighbouring Catholic parishes.

If you are interested in helping out with this new parish initiative, please talk to Bp Graeme, Fr Samuel or myself. We'd love to hear your feedback and any ideas you might have as we embark on this exciting journey into God's will for us as a Catholic faith community.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster



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