“We are called to be fishers of men, not Keepers of the Aquarium!” – Mark Hart
I admit, I don’t usually read everything that comes in the mail; but last month, for some reason, I picked up the tri-fold CPC flier from the Diocese of Evansville.One statistic in it caught my attention, and I couldn’t let it go. It said we have just over 72,000 Catholics in the diocese out of a population of 500,000. That’s less than 15%, which seemed lower than I expected. I really thought it used to be a lot higher. To satisfy my curiosity, I sought the wisdom of the internet and found https://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/devan.html.
When our diocese formed in 1944, we had just under 50,000 Catholics. We peaked out around 90,000-91,000 from 1980 until 2013. Then, the numbers crashed, Leaving us in the 72,000 range today.
I knew it was bad; but seeing such a dramatic drop, especially as the area population increased, really kicked me in the gut. Not only that, but did you know that, in 1972, the U.S. was 90% Christian – and now we’re at 64% – and predicted to drop as low as 35% in the next 50 years?!
If it was just a bunch of numbers and statistics, we might ignore it; but this is more than just numbers. These represent people’s lives! Our neighbors, brothers and sisters, and co-workers have walked away; and chances are, some of the people sitting in the pews at your parish have one foot out the door. Christianity holds the answer to all the world’s problems, but apparently we’re not convincing enough.
Is there anything we can do?
Jesus already gave us the answer in the mission he gave us – to make disciples of all nations. Let’s start with our parishes and our diocese. I could talk all day about how our mission is the very source of our joy (see Pope Francis’ “Evangelii Gaudium”), and that joy is what will be a magnet to make others think and ask, “why do those people have so much joy?” In short, we are supposed to evangelize – not just for the sake of others, but for our own sense of fulfillment and joy.
Now, anytime that E-word (evangelization) is used, I have to follow up with the reminder that evangelization is not about being the guy on the corner yelling that the end is near or asking everyone they see if they know Jesus. Evangelization is more about relationships and sharing the peace we’ve found, which is beyond all understanding.
Exactly how do we evangelize? Glad you asked.
Join us for a workshop on evangelization/discipleship. We call it Fishers of Men, and we’ll offer it in January and May 2023. We’re using the 99 Master Class from Ascension Press and some other resources to learn dos and don’ts, and helpful action plans for bringing people into the Body of Christ. It might be the first time many folks ever hear some of the basics and not-so-basics of evangelization.
Let’s do something about it.
Fishers of Men workshops
- 28-29, 2023, St. Mary Parish, Huntingburg; register by Jan. 20, 2023
8:30 a.m. EST to 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday; Noon EST to 6:30 p.m. EST Sunday
- May 6-7, 2023, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Daylight; register by April 28, 2023
8 a.m. CDT – 8 p.m. CDT Saturday; 11 a.m. CDT to 6 p.m. CDT Sunday
Class size is limited to 36 at each location. To register, or for more information, email Deacon Mike at [email protected]