Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 22, 2009
Evangelizing in a secular world
Exploring New Frontiers symposium dissected ways the Church can successfully spread the faith
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Fr. Tom Rosica proclaims, 'A strong Catholic media nourishes our Church'
Star of the North Retreat Centre has now hosted three symposiums on missionaries in secularity.
Executive director Sandra Prather said that in 2005, the first year of the symposium, evangelizing to the First World was a brand new concept. With the Oblates' nine symposiums on the topic as well as Rolheiser's related writings, more is known about the new frontiers of evangelization.
"Secularity in a nutshell is the alienation between Church and state," said Prather.
"The Church loses its voice in civil matters and everything else, and loses its voice in terms of shaping values and attitudes.
"The secular language can talk about what is good for human life, but it's not in relationship to God. In the 20th century we privatized God, who has no place in public life. In the 21st century, we get an atheist worldview, a world where God is not credible."
The task of today's evangelizers is to show others what a world with God looks like and prove that he is credible. Evangelizers must prove that God is active, concerned and involved in everyday life.
"That's our evangelizing activity, to see God as a real player in human affairs," said Prather.
Another keynote speaker, Oblate Father Seamus Finn, talked about bringing the experience of missionaries to public policy forums and to corporate boardrooms.
As the director of the Justice/Peace and Integrity of Creation Ministry in Washington, D.C., his office implements the commitment of the congregation "to be present where decisions affecting the lives of the poor are made."
Another keynote speaker during the three-day symposium was Oblate Father Jack Lau. He has journeyed with people with HIV and AIDS. The crux of his message was that to be truly human and of service to others is not done through major projects but in simple acts of tender care.
Symposium participants chose one of five focus groups on such subjects as eco-spirituality and Nothing More Beautiful. Leading the focus groups were Miriam Stulberg, Stephen Hill, Sister Judy Schachtel, Dan Jelinski and Father Stefano Penna.
Speaking on new evangelization, new media and new challenges for the Church, Basilian Father Tom Rosica said that we have a long way to go in media relations and communications.
"Barrier walls and hostilities that exist between media and Church must be overcome. It serves no purpose for Church officials and leaders to vilify those involved in the media," said Rosica.
He knows a thing or two about modern media, as he is the CEO of Salt and Light Television, Canada's first national Catholic TV network.
"We live in an age where the media dominates almost every aspect of society. We are surrounded by it. Many of us are addicted to it from the moment our radio alarm delivers the first news bulletin of the day into our emerging consciousness until we switch off the late-night TV or the home computer," said Rosica.
The media can be used at the service of the Church, in news coverage of World Youth Days, papal visits, the death of a pope and smaller diocese events.
"A strong Catholic media nourishes our Church. It helps people of faith to know that they are not alone. They are part of a community that goes beyond their local parish.
"A strong Catholic media supports people in living out their faith, by informing and connecting and challenging," he said.
Above all, parents should be good examples to their children by their own selective use of media - from Internet blogs and radio programs to TV and cinema.
Rosica was moved by one of Pope Benedict's 2005 homilies. Three times during the memorable homily, the pope spoke of the importance of "friendship with Jesus." Millions of people seek friendship today on social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
"It has been said that if Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated nation worldwide. We must carefully ask several questions . . . What is it doing for us?" asked Rosica.
"True friendship depends on mutual revelations, and can only flourish within boundaries of privacy and modesty," he said.
"On social networking sites, however, there is a concept of public friendship, which is not the friendship spoken of by Jesus in the Gospel, nor Benedict in his wonderful writings."
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