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Father Joseph Miksch, pastor of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus, talks to about 360 people from 36 parishes across the archdiocese at a Feb. 11 Christians Encounter Christ gathering with a focus on evangelization at Columbus High School.

Christians Encounter Christ helps spark a new flame of evangelization

A Christians Encounter Christ (CEC) “Spread the Fire” gathering in Columbus was the spark Ann Kudron hoped for to renew her desire to evangelize.
“It was just the shot in the arm I needed,” said Kudron, who had attended a CEC weekend of witness talks, prayer, confession, Mass and sharing in the late 1990s and came away from that retreat with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, only to see it recede under the busyness of life.
But joining 360 people from 36 parishes across the archdiocese for a daylong workshop on faith and evangelization Feb. 11 at Columbus High School re-fanned the flames, she said.
Kudron, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, was not alone in her enthusiasm. 
 “The archbishop (Archbishop George J. Lucas) has called CEC one of the best tools we have for adults for the new evangelization,” said Jan Boeding, also a parishioner at St. Anthony who participated in the event. That means CEC’s weekend retreats are an effective vehicle to help further the archdiocese’s pastoral vision of “One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples and living mercy,” she said.
In that vein, Spread the Fire was designed to re-energize past CEC attendees and spark a desire to evangelize, said Father Joseph Miksch, pastor of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus, who introduced the idea of holding the workshop. Members of all three parishes in Columbus, including St. Bonaventure and St. Anthony, helped organize the event, he said.
 The day began with prayer, followed by presentations on knowing, loving and serving God, life after CEC and evangelization by Father Miksch, Father Jeffrey Lorig, director of pastoral services for the archdiocese, and several others.
It ended with adoration of the Eucharist, Benediction, confession and a catered dinner.
The gathering was so successful there is talk of doing it again in Norfolk, or another part of the archdiocese, Father Miksch said.
“We had a great day,” he said. “I think we started something.” 
Kudron was so inspired that she took to heart one idea for evangelizing that came up at the retreat – that of visiting the sick and homebound as part of her Lenten practice this year. 
Spread the Fire, Kudron said, gave her the confidence she needs to be an ambassador of the faith. And she realized she could evangelize others simply by being there for those who are infirm.
Ironically, two days after the workshop, Kudron fell and broke three bones in her back. Finding herself now the recipient of visits from others is a lesson, Kudron said, in how to accept charity, as well as a lesson in empathy. 
“When I do get back on my feet I will certainly be able to put myself in their place,” she said.
Sharing experiences, whether difficult or joyful, and talking about what a difference Jesus makes is exactly what people are called to do in baptism, said Greg Jochum, a member of St. Isidore Parish and one of the more than two dozen people who helped organize Spread the Fire.
“That’s what it means to evangelize,” Jochum said. “But people are afraid of that word and they don’t have to be.”
Spread the Fire is meant to give people the tools they need to live and talk about their faith, he said, adding: “Take small steps, draw closer to Jesus, don’t be afraid to share him with others.”

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