A Vision for the Catholic Church
Imagine our ministries filled with passionate participants.
Imagine children who can’t wait to come back to their religious education meetings and teenagers who have developed their own intimate relationship with Christ.
Imagine the pews on Sundays and our organized events in between filled with familiar faces and dedicated parishioners who didn’t come alone. The familiar faces love to bring their friends. New visitors are showing up on a regular basis. They come and they don’t just like what they see, they come and they feel something–something they desperately needed to feel. They experience something that moves them. Maybe it is the people, or maybe it is a spiritual experience that they cannot explain, but their interaction with you and your ministry convinces them to come back.
That is where we are heading. I mean that. It’s time to set aside the doom and gloom about the current state of the Catholic Church. It is time to look ahead to a brighter future by building upon the great work of so many people in the Church today.
I won’t claim to be a visionary, but I’m ready to work with others to share a new vision for our future.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. There are many others fighting for a new vision for the Catholic Church. I’m blessed to do my part in this movement for the New Evangelization.
About this Report
I’m kicking this monthly series off for three reasons:
1) I want to share a positive vision for the future of our Church.
2) I want to share the work of the many people and groups who are leading our Church toward that vision.
3) I want to share the work that I’m doing on a monthly basis to show why I do what I do.
In some ways this is a selfish activity. It forces me to be aware of what is going on in the Church today so I don’t feel tempted to think I have all the answers or than I’m the only one who can help. That is a big temptation that attacks anyone who attempts to lead.
I’m also doing this to keep myself accountable. It is easy to get lost in the day to day activities of writing, creating, and doing ministry. It is easy to focus on tasks and to-do’s rather than purpose and goals.
November Highlights from Around the Church
Sr. Maria Kolbe, of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles, shared a wonderful quote with me from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It is drawn from his homily at his inauguration:
“I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone.”
So, I echo Sr. Maria Kolbe’s words to me: “We are never alone…We need not go alone.”
I hear about new ministries and initiatives all the time. I certainly won’t be able to share every amazing thing going on in the Catholic Church each month, but here is what stood out to me.
The Church of the Nativity (Rebuilt, Tools for Rebuilding) hosted their second major version of the Matter conference. They are truly on a mission to make the Catholic Church matter again. They are a huge inspiration to me and I have heard the conference was another huge success.
Read Fr. Michael White’s follow-up blog post and listen to Chris Wesley and Tom Corcoran record a live version of the Rebuilt podcast.
The Grace of Yes Day
I was so blessed to be a part of The Grace of Yes Day (#graceofyesday). In honor of Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes, hundreds of people posted pictures of themselves saying “yes” to God’s will for their lives. What an incredible witness! The marketing department at Ave Maria Press even dedicated their lunch time to serving a great local ministry, St. Margaret’s House.
Build a Better Disciple
Jonathan F. Sullivan, the Director for Catechetical Services in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, finished a webinar series called, “Building a Better Disciple.”
Cardinal Sean Interviewed on 60 Minutes
I admire his courage to do this. The first half was inspirational, in my opinion, but the second half showed a pretty vicious attack. It was uncharacteristic of the 60 Minutes segments I know and love. That was my reaction, but Cardinal Sean was much more charitable. Here is what he wrote about the interview: “Reflections on My ’60 Minutes’ Interview.” I liked Cardinal Sean’s response and admire him for standing up as a witness in the media for the Catholic Church.
Pope Coming to the United States in 2015
The Pope officially announces that he will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year. That event just become one of the most significant opportunities for evangelizing in the United States since JPII came for World Youth Day.
Send me any updates from dioceses or ministries you serve and I’ll feature them here!
USCCB Annual Meeting
The bishops of the United States had their annual meeting in Baltimore in November. Here is what they discussed:
Pursing the Vision: My Personal Mission, Goals, and Projects
On a professional level, I am pursuing a positive vision for the Catholic Church’s future by helping equip Catholic leaders to transform the way they evangelizing and teach.
I am accomplishing this mission in two ways: by providing practical resources and teaching strategies for religious educators at The Religion Teacher and by writing a book about forming evangelizing ministries that I am calling Heal, Proclaim, and Teach.
Here are my goals, progress, and lessons learned this month in pursuit of a vision for the New Evangelization:
Mission: Transform the way we evangelize and teach as a Church.
Goal 1: Build a website that is the go-to catechetical resource for every parish religious educator and Catholic school religion teacher in the Church.
Project 1: The Religion Teacher Website
Am I trying to build the only resource? No, and I love highlighting the great work of other websites pursuing the same mission but for different audiences. I hope people use The Religion Teacher (TRT) to find resources I create, but also resources on other sites too. Those who connect with TRT on Facebook and Pinterest benefit from finding resources on my website, but more frequently on many other catechetical and teaching blogs around the web.
My hope is that whenever any religious educator sits down to plan their lesson, they head to The Religion Teacher to discover engaging activity ideas to help them reach their students.
Project 2: The Religion Teacher Membership Site
I created a members-only section of TRT to develop a library of classroom videos and catechist formation materials in a premium membership website.
This is the ninth month for The Religion Teacher Membership site. I have received great feedback and I’m continuing to learn and improve the site to make it an exceptional resource for religious educators.
I am trying to create a library of practical resources and formation opportunities to help religious educators guide their students to learn, love, and live the faith now and as adults. I want to lead the people who join this community (and I envision it becoming a real community) on the path to making this vision for a positive future of our Church a reality.
Here is what I did in November to help religious educators through The Religion Teacher:
- Continued an ongoing series on “Contagious Classroom Prayer” (4 formation videos)
- Launched a new series of formation videos for religious educators to experience Advent in a new way. (1 formation video)
- Added one new classroom video: Anointing of the Sick Effects (1 class videos)
Goal 2: Write a book that offers a framework for evangelizing ministry and best practices from Scripture, the saints, Church history, and Catholic leaders today.
The deadline for the book is January 8th and I’m starting to get nervous! I wanted to finish before January 1 so that I could keep a streak of finishing at least one book per year for a third year in a row, but time is running out and the holidays are here.
I had a nice boost in motivation by participating in Jenny Blake and Alexis Grant’s #NaNoBlogMo group (a variation of #NaNoWriMo), but I still have a long way to go.
Working on this book has been an incredible process and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been researching and creating.
Here is what I did this month:
In November, I worked on a series of chapters that focus on ministries at various age levels: children, teens, college, young adult, and adults. I’ve spent some time researching and writing about various inspirational evangelizing ministires including Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Vacation Bible School, Life Teen, SEARCH, CYO, FOCUS, and many others.
If you want to learn more about this project, visit https://jareddees.com/hpt/
In November I bought and read Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley and loved it. I don’t know what it was, but I became overwhelmed with the realization that “vision” isn’t about me.
I have a bad habit of trying to do everything on my own. I realized that, regarding my place in the Church, I have to work with others. It sounds so selfish to write that, but it is true.
As I finish writing this book on evangelization, I have to constantly remind myself that the ideas in the book aren’t just my ideas. They build upon those before me. They build upon what others are doing today. The entire book is based on the work, not of Jared Dees, but of Christ himself. With this realization comes some relief, but more than that, it comes with confidence that we really can make positive changes in our Church and the world today.
Finally, I have to say that the hardest part about hitting publish on this post is the realization that if I really am putting myself out their calling people to a new vision for our future, then I have to live it. There is a lot to be done and if I truly want this vision to become a reality, I have to lead by example. Again, I’m so grateful that I’m not alone.
See you next month.