Australia’s first ever conference on the New Evangelisation recently concluded in Sydney and Perth’s Fayann D’Souza was there to experience it.
Before I attended the Proclaim 2012 conference, the New Evangelisation was something of an enigma to me.
I remember speaking to a friend about it, not so long ago. It was a conversation which raised, for me at least, some very relevant questions:
“What’s new about New Evangelisation? Isn’t it the same message? Aren’t we speaking about the same Jesus?”
The echo of that conversation followed me to the conference in Chatswood Sydney, August 9-11 – the first conference the Australian bishops have ever convened on the subject.
As a media producer at The Faith Centre, expected to produce quality, faith-propagating media, there were plenty of other questions I wanted answers to: What is this New Evangelisation and how do we contribute to it? Do I need training to talk about Jesus to others, or will the Holy Spirit miraculously help me out if I get stuck?
Taken together these questions represent a challenge that faces all Christians, daily. Whether or not I can sufficiently imbibe the person of Christ, within the realm of my own life, first of all, to then go and proclaim what it is that I experience in my relationship with him.
The challenge leads me to question my imperfections and think about whether I am actually called to speak about Jesus.
It is a challenge which leads me to the foundation of my faith: Jesus in my life, witnessing, experiencing and having yet another conversation about my belief; re-reading the scripture to re-discover what his life, his journey, and his cross means for me in my own life and in the lives of others.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the newly constituted Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, and a keynote speaker at Proclaim, shared his wisdom with us:
“[The] New Evangelisation … indicates a new way of fulfilling the same, identical and immutable command of Jesus to the Church to bring his Gospel to all people … For this reason, we need to rediscover the foundations of our belief,” the Archbishop told conference participants.
“It is the time for a new and mature apologetics of our faith, to offer hope to today’s world. We are called, therefore, to repeat with conviction the need to ‘have ready the reason’ for our faith (1 Pet. 3:15), recognising that this needs to be done with courtesy, respect and a clear conscience (1 Pet. 3:16).’”
Perth’s own Archbishop Timothy Costelloe helped me to dispel more of my confusion about who exactly it was who should be undertaking the New Evangelisation.
I often thought that ‘Jesus talk’ was reserved for the realm of priesthood.
In his presentation A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, I was persuaded and inspired to think about this a bit differently.
Every person blessed by the Holy Spirit has the responsibility of bringing Christ into their own lives and to the people around them.
That’s the new challenge that comes along with the New Evangelisation: For each Christian to bring the message of Christ into this new world, in new ways.