Introduction by Bishop Robert E. Barron
The phenomenon of the rising number of people who are disaffiliating from the Catholic Church—and religion altogether—presents a challenging cultural situation for the Church today. However, as Pope Francis reminds us, “challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigor!” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 109).
While our current historical moment represents a crisis in the life of the Church, it is also a beautiful invitation, a kairos for us. It is serving as a summons to smart and spiritually alert catechists, evangelists, and witnesses, willing to give their lives to the great task before them.
The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis created this video and the accompanying discussion guide for bishops to share with their staff and to spark conversations across the country about how to address this important issue. We hope that sharing these resources with you and expanding the conversation inspires us all to respond to our baptismal call to be missionary disciples.
Discussion Guide: Outreach to the Unaffiliated
The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis has prepared this booklet to accompany the video resource for bishops in an effort to answer the questions:
- Who are the unaffiliated?
- Why are they leaving?
- How do we get them back?
Transitioning from abstract reflection to evaluation of next steps to address this challenge will depend upon the unique character and culture of each diocese. We recommend that you watch the video together with staff from your pastoral offices and use the following booklet discussion guide to create a plan on how to engage this task in your diocese.
Outreach to the Unaffiliated: A Field Guide for Leaders
As the Church continues to search for creative means to reach out to the unaffiliated, this Field Guide is designed to be a practical tool to inform ongoing discernment, as well as a resource for the use of effective principles for formation of missionary disciples. This Field Guide identifies organizations and apostolates which might serve as effective models for Catholic leaders across the country. The list of organizations is not intended to be exhaustive, nor is it meant to be an approbation of all their work; rather, organizations were chosen that exemplify certain dimensions of effective outreach to spur the imagination of those in the field. Included in each section are a sampling of insights and relevant anecdotes from leaders of different apostolates.
Leadership Resource: Living as Missionary Disciples
Living as Missionary Disciples provides dioceses and parishes and other church ministries with a road map to "new paths for the Church's journey" of evangelization. It is not intended to provide a ready-made program for a parish to follow or a detailed strategic plan to implement. Rather, it offers principles that dioceses and parishes can apply to their efforts in evangelization and missionary discipleship.
Create a Culture of Encounter for Joyful Missionary Disciples (Bilingual)
This new community resource finds its roots in the gathering of the Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral. The Spanish/English guide will deepen missionary discipleship in parishes, lay ecclesial movements, Catholic schools, parish councils, religious groups, and faith formation teams. The encounter process will bear good fruit, as Catholics take up their missionary mandate in families, schools, workplaces, communities, parishes, and wherever they encounter those in need of God’s love.