Evangelization coordinators learn ways to move parishes from maintenance to mission
September 15, 2023
Jake Olson understands that the Catholic Church faces many struggles. He also believes the answer to those struggles comes down to one thing.
“I take a lot a lot of hope in the fact that discipleship is the cure to all of the hardships that the Church faces,” Olson said.
Olson is the Director of Evangelization at Our Catholic Family of Parishes, which includes eight parishes located in Cedar and Knox counties. The role of the Evangelization Coordinator is to assist the pastor in parish efforts to become missional communities. The evangelization coordinator promotes efforts to evangelize and catechize active parishioners, inactive Catholics, and all who seek Jesus Christ.
Olson and about 60 other evangelization coordinators, parish staff and volunteers recently attended an Evangelization Coordinator Orientation at the St. Benedict Retreat Center in Schuyler.
Journey of Faith brought parishes together into 33 “families.” Each family of parishes is working closely together to become missional communities outwardly focused on bringing the Gospel to everyone they meet.
It is a goal of Archbishop George J. Lucas that all parishes in northeast Nebraska would be missional communities by 2026. To achieve this goal, every family of parishes has been asked to name an evangelization coordinator.
Members of the Archdiocese of Omaha Parish Support Team designed Evangelization Coordinator Orientation to support these newly appointed individuals as they work to enhance evangelism efforts within parishes.
“The naming and training of evangelization coordinators is a watershed moment in our archdiocese in that it represents the concrete commitment of our parishes to make disciples and witness the Gospel to our neighbors,” said Jim Jansen, Director of the Parish Support Team.
The two-day event laid out the role of evangelization coordinators while providing a history of evangelization and how it fits in with what is happening in the Church today.
The training sought to instill attendees with an understanding of the vision and purpose of missional communities, provide them with the building blocks of evangelization and connect them to the people and resources that can assist them in their work.
After the two-day orientation, Olson and Adam Ybarra, Director of Mission at St. Stephen the Martyr in Omaha, both said they felt better equipped to help the parishes they serve move from maintenance to mission.
“Being able to collaborate with people who are actually on the ground was helpful,” Ybarra said. “Honestly, when you’re in the thick of it, all you see is what’s up close in front of your face. You kind of lose the forest for the trees. And being able to hear what other people are experiencing and how they have had similar roadblocks or bumps and how they’ve worked through them was really helpful.”
Another Evangelization Coordinator Orientation will be held in February. It is part of a program of certifications and workshops offered by the Archdiocese of Omaha as part of Journey of Faith to help all parishes become missional communities. The events are open to parish staff and lay people.
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