Michael Dopp

Michael Dopp

September 8, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

Saint Paul University's Summer Institute of New Evangelization inaugurated its first two-week session in August, equipping Catholics to spread the Gospel.

The Ottawa-based university had approached Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) about doing an institute on the new evangelization, said Michael Dopp, who directed the program.

Thirty-five students took part in the first session in what will be a three-year program. About a third attended the institute for university credit; the rest will receive a certificate in new evangelization. About half of the students joined the two weeks of classroom instruction online, the others in person, Dopp said.

"I took this course because I definitely wanted to learn more about my faith," said Shauna Healey, 50, who attends Blessed Sacrament Parish in Ottawa.

"I went through a conversion about 10 years ago. It just keeps snowballing and getting bigger and my desire to know more to be able to maybe share the faith more effectively was the big reason for coming."

The part-time supply teacher said she hopes she can use the information she has gained for parish renewal by "focusing on bringing people to be able to discover a relationship with Jesus."

For Healey, it's about making people feel welcome. "It's about going out and getting the unchurched because we can't contain everything within the walls," she said.

"The Church is there, but it's outside the walls we have to get people and we have to show them the love of Jesus so they will want to come and receive the sacraments."

This summer's program included an introduction to the new evangelization, as well as sessions on the kerygma, sharing one's testimony, faith and culture, and CCO resources for evangelization.

The students also received an introduction to a theology for the evangelization, Dopp said.

Future years will include a look at the history of missions, evangelizing in a postmodern culture, parish renewal, leadership for evangelization and the charisms of various new movements in the Church, he said.

WORKED ON CAMPUSES

Talitha Lemoine, 31, attended the institute after having served as a CCO missionary on university campuses for the past eight years.

A native of Winnipeg, Lemoine said she learned a lot about parish renewal in the program.

"The most important thing is that we first of all have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ, with the person of Jesus," she said. Too often people assume that everyone in a parish is "already converted" and has a personal relationship with Jesus.

"But that's not the reality.

"So we really need to focus our energy on how to present the Gospel message simply and invite people to respond because that is what will transform their lives and renew the Church and the world," she said.

Dopp said the institute attracted a diverse group of students. A couple of Franciscan sisters from the Kamloops Diocese came. They are missionaries from the Philippines working with aboriginal Canadians in a Kamloops parish, he said.

Some were lay people who "wanted to be more effective instruments in their parish and in their neighbourhood with their friends," he said. Also in attendance were some already committed to the work of evangelization, including some CCO missionaries and employees of various dioceses.