ARTICLE – Characteristics of an Evangelizing Parish

Based on the book “Creating the Evangelizing Parish” by DeSiano and Boyack, here are the characteristics of an evangelizing parish.

Kenneth Boyack, C.S.P. was Director of the Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association and is Consultant to the to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization

Frank DeSiano, C.S.P. is president of Paulist Evangelization Ministries. He served as a consultor for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization for more than a dozen years.

1. Focus on Evangelization: An evangelizing parish places a significant emphasis on evangelization as a central mission. It recognizes that sharing the Gospel message and helping individuals encounter Christ are essential tasks.

2. Understanding the Culture: The parish acknowledges the challenges posed by the modern world, such as secularism and individualism. It seeks to understand and engage with the culture by actively listening to people’s stories and using various communication methods.

3. Emphasis on Personal Conversion: Personal conversion is considered crucial for effective evangelization. The parish encourages its members to deepen their relationship with Christ through practices like prayer, reflection, and participation in the sacraments.

4. Strong Community: The parish recognizes the importance of building a strong and active community that provides support, encouragement, and accountability. This sense of community helps individuals in their faith journey and makes them effective evangelizers.

5. Welcoming Environment: Creating a welcoming environment is a priority for an evangelizing parish. It ensures that individuals feel comfortable and accepted, which is essential for drawing people into the parish community.

6. Small Faith Communities: The parish promotes the formation of small faith communities within its larger community. These smaller groups help individuals deepen their faith and provide mutual support.

7. Engaging Liturgy: The liturgy is seen as a primary means of encountering Christ, and efforts are made to ensure that it is engaging and meaningful. This includes incorporating music and art, involving the congregation, and providing opportunities for reflection and prayer during liturgical services.

8. Effective Catechesis: The parish values catechesis as a means of helping people understand and deepen their faith. Effective catechetical programs are developed, with trained catechists, varied teaching methods, and opportunities for discussion and reflection.

9. Outreach to the Wider Community: Recognizing the importance of outreach, the parish engages in programs and initiatives aimed at reaching those outside the parish community. It identifies community needs, collaborates with other organizations, and uses modern communication channels for outreach.

10. Clear Vision: The parish has a well-defined vision that guides its evangelization efforts. This vision inspires community members to actively participate in evangelization.

11. Effective Leadership: The parish recognizes the importance of strong leadership in fostering a culture of evangelization. It provides training and support for leaders, empowers individuals to take on leadership roles, and sets leadership expectations through modeling.

12. Comprehensive Planning: A clear and comprehensive plan is developed to guide the parish’s evangelization efforts. This plan includes clear goals, objectives, and resource allocation to achieve those goals.

13. Regular Evaluation: The parish conducts regular evaluations to assess the effectiveness of its evangelization efforts. Evaluation criteria are established, and the entire community is involved in the process. The results of evaluations are used to make necessary improvements.

14. Learning from Successful Projects: The parish is open to learning from successful evangelization projects implemented in other parishes. It considers these projects as models for its own initiatives, such as small faith communities, youth ministry programs, and outreach projects.

Overall, an evangelizing parish is characterized by a strong commitment to sharing the Gospel, understanding and engaging with the contemporary culture, fostering personal conversion, building a welcoming community, and employing effective strategies for evangelization and outreach. It also emphasizes clear vision, leadership, planning, evaluation, and learning from successful initiatives to continuously improve its evangelization efforts.

Pierre-Alain Giffard

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