Anyone seeking a concrete example of the new evangelization can find one in Sebree, a little city in northwestern Kentucky.
That’s where Patti Gutiérrez discovered how an invitation via digital media could have unexpected results, touching not only active members of a parish but also Catholics who had stopped participating in the life of the church.
Patti is parish life coordinator at St. Michael Parish in Sebree, which is in the Diocese of Owensboro.
St. Michael, like many parishes in the diocese, is taking part in ARISE Together in Christ, the five-season faith-sharing process for small groups, one of the resources available from RENEW International.
After the parish had completed Season Two of ARISE,Patti took stock.
“Seeing that very few young adults had participated in our small groups,’’ Patti said, “I decided to brainstorm a few that I could invite personally.
“To my great surprise, I ended up with a list of twenty-four young couples that were somehow connected to our parish, but few actually attending Mass.
Patti Gutiérrez, parish life coordinator at St. Michael Parish
in Sebree, Kentucky,
used Facebook to reach out to young adults.
“I decided to reach out via Facebook and e-mail and ask if they’d be interested in an ARISE group for young adults and our kids. I got an enthusiastic yes from fifteen of them.’’
A potential obstacle for young parents to take part in ARISE was overcome when Patti assured the couples that children were welcome at the group meetings.
“So we’re starting Season Three with two new small groups geared toward young adults.’’
Patti’s experience is consistent with a principal goal of the new evangelization, which is to reach out to all Catholics, not just the “regulars,” with an invitation to encounter Jesus in the company of fellow Christians and perhaps revive their interest and participation in the local church.
“With God’s grace,” Patti said, “I’m sure this will bear much fruit for our parish life.’’