Bishop McMahon calls for 'evangelisation team in every parish'

 Every parish in England and Wales should be encouraged to set up an evangelisation team, Bishop Malcolm McMahon said yesterday.

Speaking in preparation for of Home Mission Sunday on 21 September, Bishop Malcolm, who is Chair of the Bishops' Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: "As Christians we are not called to be hostile to the world we live in, but we are under an obligation to live and manifest the treasure of the Gospel we have been entrusted with. If we experience opposition, misunderstanding and marginalisation because of the way we live and share our faith, we are probably doing well, precisely because of the contrast between God's ways of doing things and what comes naturally to human beings. But as a Catholic Community, we need to be supported and equipped to enable us to be effective evangelisers. To that end, I encourage you to set up a parish team, attend a regional training day and to use the DVD provided."

The theme for this year's Sunday is 'Job For Life: Equipping Parishes For Home Mission' and every parish has been sent a DVD which has been produced by Catholic Evangelisation Services (producers of CaFE) in collaboration with the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE); it is titled 'Alive in Christ ­ Making Mission Possible in Your Parish'. The DVD covers many areas, such as mission inside and outside the parish, to the youth, evangelisation by serving the poor and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Parishes are also being invited to send representatives to regional evangelisation training days which will take place between January ­ April 2009.

The Gospel for the 21st is the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Mt 20: 1 - 16); it provides a reminder that God calls unlikely people to the work of evangelisation at different times. Lay people, in collaboration with the clergy and religious, are very especially called to engage in this work in their daily lives and entrust to God the fruitfulness of their efforts.

The hope is that this year every member of the Catholic Community will grow in awareness that they have a job for life - to evangelise - which is both their duty but also a life-giving and freeing activity. The Church teaches that the task of evangelisation is not something which burdens but frees.

Homily notes, bidding prayers, a children's liturgy sheet, information about the latest evangelisation initiatives, the CASE newsletter and tips about how to set up a parish evangelisation team can be downloaded from SMS technology will also support this year's initiative. Text 'TEAM' to 81025 to receive additional help.

Mgr Keith Barltrop, Director of CASE, said: "It would be wonderful, if as a fruit of Home Mission Sunday, every parish felt enabled to build on what they're already doing by taking a new and concrete step towards becoming a more evangelistic community. All we need is to be willing to make a start, to take a baby step so to speak, perhaps through attending one of the regional evangelisation training days. In faith we rely on God's generosity and power that He will show us the way and provide the opportunity and means to be effective labourers in the vineyard."

Parishes are invited to have an annual collection on Home Mission Sunday to support CASE's work as an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales; the agency is part-funded by this optional collection and relies on diocesan support. For more information see:

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