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A new program in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis helps parishioners dive deeper into their Catholic faith.
BY Susan Klemond
Joe McClure has discovered a multimedia opportunity that’s helping him — and many others in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — dive deeper into their Catholic faith.
What has inspired McClure? Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism.
Thanks to donors, the book has been offered to Catholics in the archdiocese’s roughly 200 parishes as part of a new initiative called Rediscover:.
"Once you start to dive into the Church and its teachings and the life of Christ, you fall in love," said McClure, a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. "Once you find something you love, you want to share it with others."
Along with reading the book and discussing it in parish book clubs, Minnesota Catholics can get involved with Rediscover: through the initiative’s website (Rediscover-Faith.org), an app for smartphone and tablet, social media, a speaker series, as well as an archdiocese-wide event this fall featuring Kelly, Father Robert Barron and others.
The website offers 400 articles, videos and prayers, as well as answers to a myriad of questions about the faith. An innovative feature is a new app for Android and Apple that addresses the same questions in a mobile format. The app also offers geolocation for finding the archdiocese’s parishes, as well as contact information and schedules for Mass, reconciliation and Eucharistic adoration. App users also will find a prayer journal and access to daily readings (RediscoverApp.com).
Inspired by the New Evangelization, Rediscover: is an ongoing evangelization and catechesis initiative, said Sarah Mealey, archdiocesan communications director. The goal is to encourage all Catholics, whether engaged or disengaged in the Church, to enter into the fullness of the faith, she said.
"This is very much about recognizing that there are so many Catholics who were not necessarily handed on the faith in its fullness, and so find themselves in the position of not understanding it well in order to even defend it."
Re-engaging Catholics in the faith involves helping them turn their hearts toward Christ, according to Archbishop John Nienstedt.
"It’s not just a question of getting people into the doors of church — we have to get them to fall in love with Christ," he said. "That takes a moment of conversion, ongoing conversion as we come to know Christ and we come to have that intimate relationship with him, which is sustained through daily prayer and through meditation, serious reading and study."
Many Catholics have heard a false telling of the faith and therefore would benefit from rediscovering it, said Kelly, founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute, which develops learning systems to foster conversation about Catholicism. "It is the work of God, but there are many things we can do to usher people toward conversion."
Rediscover: began as part of the archdiocese’s 2009 long-term strategic plan before staff members asked Kelly if they could include his book in the initiative, according to Mealey. More than five million copies of Rediscover Catholicism have been sold or given away since it was first published in 2002, she said.
Kelly offered the archdiocese the book without profit, and 180,000 copies were printed and shipped with donor funds.
The initiative’s developers didn’t plan for it to coincide with the Church’s Year of Faith either. "It just happens to have fallen, from a timing standpoint, when we’re ready to do the outreach — beautiful, symbiotic, wonderful timing with the Year of Faith," explained Mealey.
Rediscover: has been well received in the archdiocese since its November introduction, and website traffic has been brisk. In addition, several other dioceses have expressed interest in starting a similar program, said Mealey.
An effective way to evangelize is through personal invitations, Mealey said. "At every parish, there has to be a level of hospitality that says we are on fire for Jesus Christ and his Church."
For the passively engaged, hospitality might mean welcoming them and inviting them to faith formation, Mealey said. But for the disengaged, she said, "It’s really a matter of trying to reach them when they’re not going to hear a message from the pulpit or they’re not going to read it in the bulletin because they’re just not there."
Ron Snyder said he practiced his faith but wasn’t formed in it before he started work on a master’s degree in Catholic studies at UST five years ago. Snyder, who is helping to implement Rediscover: at his parish, Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Minn., read Kelly’s book last year. He appreciates how it takes tradition and truth to a global level.
Snyder is happy to see his fellow parishioners interested in the initiative, which is "providing catechesis for a hungry populace."
Calling Rediscover: the most-inspiring project he’s been involved in on the diocesan level, Kelly said he would like to see Minnesota Catholics renewing their hope that the Catholic future will be bigger than its past.
"Our times need the Church more than any other time," he said, adding that he hopes Rediscover: participants will have "a sense that Catholicism is something to be proud of and something to be explored in new ways every day of our lives — a renewed faith that God is at work in our lives."
Susan Klemond writes from
St. Paul, Minnesota.