Saturday, 19 May 2007

New Evangelisation in Canada

From my previous posts, you might think I think that everything is in a bad way in Canada. That isn't actually the case. Two groups have impressed me during my stay here - one from the French speaking area, and one from the English speaking area of Canada.

During the Congress meeting I noticed a couple of younger guys hanging around. They seemed to be delegates for the Congress, and seemed friendly enough, so I got talking to one of them. He said he belonged to a group called 'Catholic Christian Outreach'. It is a campus based evangelisation ministry that sounds very similar to something from the United States which I've already heard of called Focus. One of the things which bothers me most about my situation in Birmingham University is that the Evangelical Christian Union and others are so up front about evangelism, but we shrink back. Partly not to offend other Christian groups or to remain comfortable with the status quo Catholics think that evangelism has nothing to do with them. Without entering into the difference between evangelism and evangelisation - that's not just another post, but a potential book - we Catholics do need to be at the forefront of evangelisation in all its aspects, and that includes attracting people to Christ by proclaiming him. I don't know much about Focus or Catholic Christian Outreach, but I shall be finding out more. One concern I have is the cultural divide between North America and the UK - we are certainly very different and different things work because of the way we are. But we should also recognise that on most University campuses the Catholic Church is at best timid in evangelisation and at worst resigns it's responsibility completely. Who can blame chaplains who feel out on a limb? So a national group to coordinate and advance evangelisation in our universities and colleges would be a great help and support both to chaplains and willing Catholic students.

I have had experience of the Beatitudes community in France, having visited, with Fr Richard, the Abbaie Blanche in Mortain, Normandy, and having participated in the International Retreat for Priests, organised by the Beatitudes. They are an association of the faithful who have a stable life, and contains priests, male and female religious, families and single people all living in community. Here in Quebec there is a similar group but made up completely of young people. It is called the Marie Jeunesse Family. Here at the Youth Summit in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress they have had a leading role, including in liturgy and animation. It is noticeable how, for example, they are to be seen praying before singing at Mass. Their joy is evident. Apparently they are present in Belgium. It would be good to see them at Y2k at Walsingham this year!

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