By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND
Bemidji – On May 12-13 St. Philip’s, Bemidji was one of 39 remote host sites for the New Evangelization Summit. Altogether, 5,000 Catholics viewed the summit, which took place in Ottawa, Ontario.
The summit, in its third year, brings together Catholic speakers to inspire, form and connect Catholics and help them bring the Gospel to all they encounter.
Speakers for the summit included Michael Dopp, Peter Herbeck, Sister Miriam James Heidland, Father Michael White, Tom Corcoran, Patrick Sullivan, Meghann Baker and Bishop Robert Barron.
Twenty-five attendees gathered at St. Philip’s to take part in the summit. Even though they were seeing the conference on a screen from the parish, they were still able to participate in praise and worship and prayer with all the other attendees.
Blake Quick, the Director of Campus Ministry and Adult Faith Formation coordinated the Bemidji host-site. He said there were a few glitches during a couple of the presentations, but overall things went well. Throughout the summit, they were able to see some of the other remote sites, as well as views of the crowd in Canada.
“In Ottawa, they have a whole stadium full of people, whereas we have twenty something, but being connected through this medium has been very beneficial,” he said.
Quick said the presentations were great and each one had something inspirational or useful.
“A lot of good conversation has started during the breaks, so I’m very happy with the way it’s going and I look forward to hopefully doing it again next year if we can,” he said.
Deb Montzka is a catechist at St. Peter the Apostle, Park Rapids. She attended the entire summit and found the presenters to be engaging and helpful, especially one who spoke about being a catechist.
“She talked about letting the kids come up with their own answers and not giving the kids the answers,” Montzka said. “I need to be quiet and let them figure out the mystery and let God work through them.”
She also appreciated the reminder throughout the conference that we are called to be evangelists in our everyday encounters.
“It’s nice to get that wake up and say ‘come on Deb, the first thing you need to do is be a missionary,’” she said.
John Cullen of St. Mary’s, Fosston really enjoyed the day. He plans to purchase recordings of the presentations so he can continue to review them.
Cullen said each of the speakers said things that stuck out to him, or made him view things in a new way.
“I can see that evangelism would be great for bringing people back to church,” he said.
Daniel Walter of St. Philip’s also attended and was impressed by the speakers.
“Prayer has been mentioned as key to anything happening,” said Walter. He said he plans to pray more intently to help him be open to sharing his faith more.
AJ Garcia is the Director of the diocesan Office of New Evangelization and Justice. One theme he noticed throughout Saturday’s presentations was that everyone is called to be prepared and equipped to evangelize.
“There is not a formal process, but there are opportunities to take advantage of to learn more and to simply take action where you are.”
Garcia gleaned some good practical advice from hearing Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran. He also said Peter Herbeck expressed the urgency and the need for evangelization, and Bishop Barron shared the reality of the crisis of faith.
“Each of us is called – no matter where we are, no matter our understanding of the faith, – to take action in evangelization,” Garcia said. “Once we have started getting active in evangelization, it’s our own responsibility to continually be formed, to learn more information, and to be sharing. The thing that was emphasized most importantly was the need to pray, that it begins with ourselves and the Lord before we take him to others.”
Garcia felt the event went really well, and was glad he was able to attend one day of it.
“You could really feel the excitement just in the conversations at the breaks or over lunch,” he said. “This really did break down the understanding of evangelization and words and phrases like ‘missionary discipleship’ that I think it feels achievable or normal or that more of the people here actually have an understanding of what that means and how to apply it back in their parishes.”
For more information about the New Evangelization Summit, visit: www.newevangelization.ca.