Priest says evangelization is part of Catholics’ history

By | February 29, 2012


Msgr. Ray East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in southeast Washington, D.C., will be the presenter at Team Days, March 15 and 16 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Green Bay. (CNS photo | Bob Roller)

Msgr. East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in southeast Washington, D.C., will be the presenter at Team Days, March 15-16 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Green Bay. The “New Evangelization” will serve as the theme for the conference. Msgr. East said that he hopes to build on the foundation set by Bishop David Ricken’s pastoral letter, “Parishes: Called to be Holy, Full Engaged, Fully Alive.” In the document, Bishop Ricken calls on parishes to focus on six pastoral areas, beginning with evangelization. Throughout Team Days, Msgr. East will present a multi-step process for Catholics to “claim, proclaim and aim” the good news.


“When you look at parishioners, 80 percent of the people in the pews don’t see themselves as evangelists,” he said. “There is a lot of room for the Holy Spirit to work, to exercise that call. It’s a full-time call. The goal is to invite all to hear the message of salvation. As Catholics, we need to gain the confidence to be in conversation with our brothers and sisters.”

When presenting “Methods for the New Evangelization,” Msgr. East will invite participants to examine current ministries in their parishes and look at the best practices at work in the diocese.

“What we hope to do in hearing the best practices is to give people encouragement,” he said. “Sometimes, we don’t have the opportunity to share things. We need to do that more.”

He explained that representatives from his parish are a part of an evangelization group in the Southeast Deanery of the Archdiocese of Washington. Members of the group gather monthly to share practices from their respective parishes. He added that an annual evangelization event for young people, “Jammin’ for Jesus,” is held in the archdiocese. The youth plan the event. A recent joint effort with the Diocese of Arlington, Va., is also a form of evangelization. “The Light-Is-On for You” features signs on the side of city buses listing dates and times of confessions at area parishes.

Mark your calendar

Team Days will be held March 15-16 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 2040 Airport Drive, Green Bay. The registration deadline is March 6. Register online at For registration assistance or more information, contact Karen Bass at 877-500-3580, ext. 8198, (920) 272-8198 or [email protected]. The fee is $80, if attending both days, and $50 for one day only. Lunch is included. This offering is partially funded by the Bishop’s Appeal.

Msgr. East was born in Newark, N.J., and raised in San Diego. A position with the National Association of Minority Contractors brought him to Washington.

“I came as a lay person and the Lord called me,” he said. “What inspired me and amazed me about the vocation to the priesthood and all vocations are there are so many ways to serve the Lord. There is a world of opportunities.”

Team Days will mark a return trip to Green Bay for Msgr. East. He recalls presenting as part of “Open Wide the Doors” in 2000. He has relatives who are members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Ashwaubenon. Speaking engagements allow him to live out the parish mission, he said.

“When I get out to other dioceses, to other parts of the country, I try to model our mission,” he said. “We read our mission statement before each Mass as a congregation. It just takes a minute. The mission statement calls for us to use our gifts and talents so people can see God’s grace rising. We need to ask ourselves, ‘How did God use you this week in spreading the Good News?’ We hold each other accountable for going out, evangelizing and coming back with a praise report.”



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