An Opportunity to Evangelize

June 24, 2014

The Pittsburgh Catholic
By Bob DeWitt

Volunteers see link between their work and bishop’s pastoral letter

Jeff and Lauren Heiger didn’t think of themselves as evangelists when they signed on as campaign volunteers. But one year later they remain energized, fully alive in their faith and taking to heart Bishop David Zubik’s new pastoral letter, “The Church Evangelizing!”

“Our Campaign for The Church Alive! ended up being a gift to us,” Lauren said. “Speaking to potential donors gave me an opportunity to talk about my faith and where the church is headed. It makes me feel on fire with the Holy Spirit.” As co-chairs of the campaign at Holy Sepulcher Parish in Glade Mills, the Heigers worked closely with their pastor, Father John Gizler, showing parishioners how the campaign helps sustain and strengthen parishes, revitalize sacramental life, support education and formation in the faith, serve the poor and especially invigorate evangelization.

The new pastoral letter calls on each of us to proclaim Christ to all peoples, inviting them to join us in serving our sisters and brothers in need, and to bring them to the richness and fullness of our Catholic faith.

“Through the campaign I got to know many parishioners and I shake a lot more hands now,” Jeff Heiger said. “There are more smiles. In the future I’ll be a familiar face.”

Jesus calls us to continue the work he began 2,000 years ago, Bishop Zubik wrote in the pastoral letter. “Everyone in the church needs to do the work of telling the Good News.”

The word is spreading fast at St. James the Apostle Parish in Pulaski, Lawrence County. Jean Pascale, who helped lead the campaign with her husband, Pietro, and Father James Downs, is excited to be part of the Church Alive.

“We’re not a wealthy parish, but people gave from their heart,” Jean said. “We’re small but mighty.”

Lay leaders at St. James the Apostle immediately began sharing the fruits of their campaign. They used funds to purchase a book on evangelization for team members, held a weekend workshop and conducted follow-up interviews with parishioners to invite them to delve more deeply into their faith.

They’re now organizing groups around the new evangelization and reaching out to the community by cooking meals and welcoming all.

“Looking back, we were helping to tell the Good News through the campaign,” Jean noted. “It’s God’s work that allowed us to have this campaign so that we can do more.” Quoting the Gospel of John, “I have called you friends,” Bishop Zubik writes that introducing our friends to Jesus is what it means to be The Church Evangelizing!

“The new evangelization is living the faith and passing it along,” he said in the letter.

Our Lady of Grace Parish in Scott Township was one of the first 11 parishes to conduct the campaign 18 months ago, led by their pastor, Father Richard Infante, and dozens of passionate lay leaders like Denny and Regina Stover. The Stovers also understand the historic initiative’s direct connection to The Church Evangelizing!

“The campaign allowed us to see what we could accomplish if we had a vision,” Regina said. “It’s helped our parishioners get more involved. That will have a long-lasting impact.”

“Many non-parishioners also supported our parish campaign,” Denny said. “They were attending church, heard about the appeal and gave.”

“There’s an opportunity to evangelize, to get them registered in our parish and participating,” Regina added. Lauren Heiger of Holy Sepulcher is seizing the moment.

“This is our time to evangelize, to combine all of our efforts toward this goal of growing our Catholic faith,” she said. “We’ve planted seeds.”

Bishop Zubik concludes the pastoral letter with prayerful petition.

“Together, may we grow so strong in faith, hope and love that others can stand on our shoulders as we have stood on the shoulders of those before us.”

To read, hear or download an app of the pastoral letter, visit www.ChurchEvangelizing.com. Learn more about the campaign at www.ChurchAlivePgh.org.

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