2013-2016 - USCCB STRATEGIC PLAN

THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

Journey with Christ: Faith – Worship – Witness

To make the New Evangelization a reality is to become pilgrims on a journey or pilgrimage with Jesus Christ- much like the journey of Jesus meeting the disciples along the road to Emmaus. The journey or pilgrimage includes moments for a deepening of our faith, increasing our participation in the sacramental life of the Church, and leads finally to our destination of being Christian witnesses.

"A new evangelization is synonymous with mission, requiring the capacity to set out anew, go beyond boundaries and broaden horizons. The new evangelization is the opposite of self-sufficiency, a withdrawal into oneself, a status quo mentality and an idea that pastoral programs are simply to proceed as they did in the past. Today a 'business as usual' attitude can no longer be the case. Some local Churches, already engaged in renewal, reconfirm the fact that now is the time for the Church to call upon every Christian community to evaluate their pastoral practice on the basis of the missionary character of their program and activities."—Synod of Bishops XIII Ordinary General Assembly,The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith, Lineamenta, #10

The New Evangelization: Faith-Worship-Witness

The Year of Faith, as a doorway that engages us in the work of the New Evangelization, is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei, 6).

The Year of Faith

The Year of Faith is a first instance to be engaged in the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith, is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew and deepen their relationship with Christ and his Church.

The New Evangelization as a journey of faith, worship and witness, presents three opportunities or audiences for the transmission of the Christian faith:

To engage more intently those who are faithful and need to be renewed with increased catechesis;

To reach out to those who have never heard the gospel proclaimed; and

To re-engage those who are baptized but have lost a living sense of the faith in their daily lives

The New Evangelization is an opportunity, a pilgrimage (journey) to rediscover the joy and confidence of believing in the Triune God and to enthusiastically profess that faith as” a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to his encounter between the person and Jesus Christ.” (Instrumentum Laboris, #18)

The New Evangelization/Journey With Christ: Faith-Worship-Witness has a natural progression that engages the work of the Church and the USCCB in a three-fold movement during 2013-2016 through a focus on:

Faith: Inviting Catholics to a deeper relationship with Christ, and a deeper understanding of and relationship with his Church, and knowledge of the faith.

Worship: Inspiring confidence in the gospel and the teachings of the faith expressed in a vibrant community and sacramental life, most intensively in the Eucharist and Penance, but also through Marriage and greater appreciation of the family as the domestic church.

Witness: Strengthening of our understanding of the Christian vocation lived through a public witness to Jesus Christ and to the life and dignity of the human person where believers, living out their vocation to be witnesses, affirm the freedom of religion and work to transform society through living and sharing their faith in Jesus Christ and giving recognition to the life and dignity of the human person

Focus on Faith:

Beginning with the opening of the Year of Faith (October 2012 – November 2013) and continuing during the next few years, the USCCB committee plans focus on:

Assisting in the pastoral outreach of the Church to help Catholics deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and increase their knowledge of the teaching of the Church;

Strengthening the education and formation of priests, religious and lay ministers,increasing the invitation to young people to discern their vocation in life, and strengthening formation programs;

Implementing the Conference statement on preaching through training and education so that preaching is inspiring, motivating and catechetical;

Instilling in Catholics an understanding and appreciation for the Catholic teaching on the life and dignity of the human person, including issues of migration and pastoral care for refugees, respect for all life, concern for the poor and marginalized;

Being a Church that continues its efforts to educate and advocate for the religious liberty of all people both nationally and internationally;

Continuing to develop special outreach to married couples and families and advocate for the institution of marriage;

Strengthening the understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation as foundational to the new evangelization so that this leads to greater participation in the sacrament of penance.

Focus on Worship & Parish Life:

During the years 2014 - 2015 in particular the USCCB plans support initiatives that focus on:

Strengthening parish life and worship and create greater awareness of the need for communities of faith that are evangelizing;

Strengthening participation in sacramental practice, especially inviting people to rediscover the sacrament of penance and strengthen our participation in and understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist;

Creating parishes as welcoming communities including specific outreach to youth and young adults, parents, and people on the move;

Strengthening the initial & ongoing formation of clergy to more effectively respond to the challenges of the New Evangelization. [PPF and National Directory revisions; establish annual themes for the ongoing formation of priests and deacons];

Strengthening marriage and family life, and increasing the number of people participating in the Sacrament of Marriage

Increasing understanding of the Mass and attendance at Mass

Focus on Witness:

Plans support the initiatives around efforts to increase Christian witness and the priority on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person:

Finalizing the research on effective communication messages to actively engage Catholics in the Church's promotion of the life and dignity of the human person;

Convening in 2016 a conference to engage and motivate a broad cross section of Catholics to become active in promoting and supporting the Life and dignity of the Human Person;

Strengthening and encouraging Catholic laity in their role as witnesses in the public square;

Forming and training laity to understand the Christian faith and become engaged as evangelizers and witnesses;

Continuing to foster and support married couples and families as Christian witnesses;

For consecrated life, seeking to strengthen the relationship of the religious with the local ordinary through an increase the number of bishops who meet annually with religious;

Increasing the encouragement youth and young adults receive from youth, campus and young adult ministers to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life.

Suggested Best Practices that inform New Evangelization efforts

In addition to the four conference-wide priority initiatives, the Committees and offices of the USCCB are asked to integrate four planning strategies into the outcome objectives and projects.The four strategies:

Engage culturally diverse and age diverse communities (Who);

Call, form and develop leaders-especially clergy (Who);

Create effective communications (How);

Encourage collaboration and working together (How).

To assist the church to engage culturally diverse communities the Committee on Cultural Diversity has developed and will engage staff and leaders in Intercultural Competency training in collaboration with Human Resources and the General Secretariat. The Committee on Migration continues its mission to these culturally diverse communities through its outreach to those who are new arrivals in our country. cDivine Worship attends to this strategy through its continuing work on the Spanish Roman Missal and Lectionary.

To guide committees and staff to be more effective communicators the Committee on Communications is focusing on developing best practices for effective communications and creating training opportunities to communicate more effectively. A number of Conference committees' and offices are already taking advantage of new media to increase the effectiveness and outreach of their work via webinars, e-newsletters, "push technology," video conferencing, members only websites, blogs, Facebook, etc. Ways to measure the effectiveness of these media tools will be an important best practice.

For the strategy which focuses on calling and forming leaders, especially priests and those in consecrated life, there are major projects from Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Child and Youth Protection, and from Catholic Education to name just three.

For the lens that urges a continued strategy of developing collaborative relationships this strategy can literally be found in the work of each and every committee. In 2006, we moved to a more organic way of working together and the operational plans clearly demonstrate a strengthening and institutionalizing of this approach.

A Four Year Journey with Christ:  Faith – Worship - Witness.

2013-2014: Focus on Faith

Beginning with the opening of the Year of Faith (October 2012 – November 2013) and continuing during the next few years, diocesan and parish planning can focus on:

Helping Catholics deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and increase their knowledge of the teaching of the Church;

Strengthening the education and formation of priests, religious and lay ministers,increasing the invitation to young people to discern their vocation in life, and strengthening formation programs;

Working with local clergy to implement the USCCB statement on preaching through training and education so that preaching is inspiring, motivating and catechetical;

Educating Catholics so they are adequately formed in their faith as relates to Catholic teaching on the life and dignity of the human person, including issues of migration and pastoral care for refugees, respect for all life, concern for the poor and marginalized;

Continuing diocesan efforts to educate and advocate for the religious liberty of all people both nationally and internationally;

Continuing diocesan and parish efforts to develop special outreach to married couples and families and advocate for the institution of marriage;

Strengthening the understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation as foundational to the new evangelization leading to greater participation in the sacrament of penance.

2014-2015: Focus on Worship and Parish Life

During the years 2014 through 2015 in particular diocesan and parish planning can focus on:

Strengthening parish life and worship and creating evangelizing and welcoming parishes;

Strengthening participation in sacramental practice, especially inviting people to rediscover the sacrament of penance and strengthening participation in and understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist;

Creating parishes as welcoming communities including specific outreach to youth and young adults, parents, and people on the move;

Continuing the formation of clergy to effectively respond to the challenges of the New Evangelization. [PPF and National Directory revisions; establish annual themes for the ongoing formation of priests and deacons];

Strengthening marriage and family life, and increasing the number of people participating in the Sacrament of Marriage;

Increasing understanding of the Mass and attendance at Mass.

2015-2016: Focus on Witness

Diocesan and parish efforts during 2015 and 2016 can have a special focus on initiatives that seek to increase Christian witness and the support the bishops priority on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person:

Communicating and engaging diocesan and parish leaders on effective communication messages to actively engage Catholics in the Church's promotion of the life and dignity of the human person;

Participating in the national convening in 2016 to engage and motivate a broad cross section of Catholics to become active in promoting and supporting the Life and dignity of the Human Person;

Strengthening and encouraging Catholic laity in their role as witnesses in the public square.

Forming and training laity to understand and become engaged as evangelizers and witnesses to Christian faith;

Strengthening the local relationship and communion between religious and the local ordinary through by increasing the number of bishops who meet annually with religious;

Increasing the encouragement youth and young adults receive from youth, campus and young adult ministers to consider a vocation to priesthood or religious life.

Suggested Best Practices to Implement the New Evangelization

1. To assist the church to engage culturally diverse communities the Committee on Cultural Diversity has developed Intercultural Competency Guidelines that reflect best practices for the multicultural Church today.

2. To guide committees and staff to be more effective communicators the Committee on Communications is focusing on developing best practices for effective communications and creating training opportunities to communicate more effectively.

3. For the strategy which focuses on calling and forming leaders, especially priests and those in consecrated life, there are major projects from various USCCB committees to assist diocesan and parish leaders, including resources from Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Child and Youth Protection, Evangelization & Catechesis, Divine Worship, and Catholic Education.

4. The final best practice reflects the value of continuing to strengthen strategies of developing collaborative relationships.