What does it mean to be a missionary disciple? Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer of the Diocese of Orange explains.
“During the summer of 2017 our diocese was able to send a delegation to the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America. This historic event gathered more than 3,000 delegates from 159 dioceses. As we focused on the Encyclical of Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel” and how we can apply it to our reality in the United States, one thing became clear: We cannot just do what we have been doing.
Our discussions were framed by learning about the present landscape/reality, focusing on the need to go out to the periphery and then to plan action. As our delegation gathered both in Orlando, as well as back in Orange, we realized that each of us are challenged to be missionary disciples. This is especially true of all who serve at the pastoral center, our parishes and schools.
What does being a missionary disciple mean? Archbishop Kurtz said, “…at Aparecida [Brazil], the bishops of Central and South America affirmed that, first of all, believers need to be disciples who day to day follow the Lord. As disciples, believers need to deepen their experience of the Lord Jesus. They need to deepen their understanding of the faith. They need to deepen their community with each other. And then, as disciples, they need to witness, which is the missionary part of the believer’s life. To be a missionary disciple, therefore, is to be a believer who puts these two things together—to experience Christ and to witness to Christ.”
So the first step for each of us is to daily deepen our relationship with Christ through prayer and the sacraments. By spending time each day with the Lord who loves us, that relationship becomes stronger. And as we fall more deeply in love, we naturally will want to share our beloved with all we meet.
We also need to continue to learn about our faith. As we learn more about the faith we are more comfortable talking with others about our relationship with Christ and why we choose to live a life rooted in Christian teaching.
Then, we gather in community. The Lord sent the disciples out with at least one other. To have the support and prayer of the community sustains us when trials come. Getting involved in our parish helps us to form healthy Christian relationships.
With this, we witness. We speak of the great things God is doing for us. We invite people to pray with us. We invite people to join us at Mass, bible study, our prayer group or other activities. We show joy and hope. We show profound hospitality.
As we continue to discuss all we learned we will be providing some additional practical ideas of strengthening one’s relationship with Christ, growing in the faith, forming community and witnessing to Christ.”
Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) is a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. We challenge students to live in the fullness of the Catholic faith with a strong emphasis on becoming leaders in the renewal of the world.
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone is welcome.
Christ Life equips Catholics for the essential work of evangelization so that all people might personally encounter Jesus Christ and be transformed into His missionary disciples.
St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) is a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides the tools and resources for Catholics to engage the culture in a simple, non- confrontational method of evangelization which involves making themselves available to the public to answer questions about the faith and to pray with those who request it.
Catherine of Siena Institute: The Catherine of Siena Institute provides formation for clergy, religious and lay leaders as well as equipping parishes to become centers of evangelization, formation, discernment, and apostolic support for the laity.
For Your Marriage An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to help resource and support marriages and those who minister to married people and families.
Word on Fire reaches millions of people by utilizing the tools of new media to draw people into or back to the Catholic Faith.
RENEW International fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action.
The Magis Center provides comprehensive and systematic responses to restore, reconstruct, and revitalize belief in God, the transcendent dignity of every person, the significance of virtue, the higher levels of happiness, love, and freedom, and the real presence of Jesus Christ.