When Pope St John Paul II asked for a New Evangelization, he did not ask to change the content of evangelization, which is always Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Rather he asked for an evangelization that is new in its ardor, methods and expression. One reason for this newness is because the field of the New Evangelization is primarily those who have already heard the Gospel…sort of. Those who grew up Catholic and received a version of the Gospel watered down with secular culture, rejected what they thought was Christianity without really knowing the content of the faith. The full content of the faith must be presented in a new expression to avoid the defense, “I've already heard that.” It must also be presented with new methods, because those who need evangelization are not showing up for the old methods of CCD and parish missions and Sunday homilies. It must be presented with new ardor because the fervent authenticity of the messenger is critical for communicating the Good News in a compelling way.
Joseph Rockey is a Pittsburgh native with a typical story for those in need of a New Evangelization. Raised Catholic, he learned the faith at a young age, but his faith did not grow as his intellect and human maturity grew and compared to the glamor of society, it quickly appeared outdated and his practice of the faith became lukewarm, perfunctory at best. Through a study abroad in Rome and some positive influences in his life, including his fiancée Teresa, Joe began to develop a positive appreciation for the Catholic Church and came back to a fuller practice of the faith. He also began to discover that there were many things taught by the Church that he did not understand. He discovered a deeper understanding and appreciation of the faith through We Are One Body® radio and he developed a new ardor for helping others to make the journey that he was making. He began to conceive of sharing the faith through a new method: podcasting. Then he reached out to me, in hopes that I could provide a new expression.
My initial thought was that I need another thing to do like I need a hole in the head. At the same time, I recognized the true ardor in Joe and his sincere desire to reach out to others his age and offer something that might help them to reconsider Catholicism. God forbid that I should be an obstacle to that! So we discussed what might be possible and what might be helpful for potential listeners. He was willing to work out the technical details and the “marketing” needed to help people discover our podcast and I am always willing to talk about the Lord. In discussing how we might proceed, we decided that Joe's personal interests and questions are likely the same interests and questions of many people his age. With that in mind, Joe simply brings up questions and we talk in a way that becomes a kind of spiritual direction for him and, we hope, for many others as well.
We are well aware that our effort is imperfect and leaves much to be desired, but I am convinced that it is a meaningful contribution to the New Evangelization. It is a new expression and a new method with a new ardor and we pray it brings at least a few people closer to Jesus. Please pray for us and spread the Good News and share our podcast as well, if you think it would be helpful for someone you know.
Click here to subscribe to our podcast “Father and Joe”.