In my own experience of parish-based evangelization, I have found that a pastor’s personal desire to evangelize is paramount to a successful evangelization apostolate. I am very fortunate to have a pastor at my parish who not only supports evangelization, but personally is involved in it. As soon as he arrived at our parish, he asked the evangelization committee, “So when do we go door-to-door?” It was music to my evangelizing ears.
Recently, Pope Benedict spoke with the parish priests of Rome and gave them practical advice on how to evangelize:
“It is very important,” he emphasized, “that these faithful really find in their parish priest a pastor who loves them and helps them to listen today to the Word of God, to understand that it is a Word for them and not only for people of the past or the future, to help them even more, in the sacramental life, in the experience of prayer, in listening to the Word of God, and on the path of justice and charity, because Christians should be the leaven of our society with so many problems [...].”
The Holy Father emphasized the primacy of proclaiming the Word in the work of evangelization. Often we hear about “lifestyle evangelism,” in which our actions evangelize those around us. This is very important, but it only forms the foundation for evangelization – it is not the sole content of our sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We also must explicitly proclaim the Word of God – both Jesus Christ the incarnate Word and the Scriptures the written Word – to those who will listen. As the Pope said, we must “try to create, with the help of the Word, what the primitive Church created with the catechumens: venues in which to begin to live the Word, to follow the Word, to make it comprehensible and realistic, corresponding to real forms of experience.”
Pray for your pastors and encourage them that they might be open to evangelization opportunities. There are many lost souls out there who need to hear the Word of God, and the local parish is best situated for making this proclamation.