APPLETON — “Before one can evangelize, one must be evangelized. Before one can disciple others, one must be a disciple.” This was one of the messages shared in a slide presentation during Bishop David Ricken’s opening remarks Sept. 8 at a Discipleship Formation Seminar for Crozier Society members.
“We are doing this disciple training so you can be a disciple for others,” the bishop told the group of about 85 Crozier Society members gathered for the daylong seminar at the Grand Meridian.
The main theme of the day was “kerygma,” a word that is related to a Greek verb meaning “to cry or proclaim as a herald.” It is defined as proclamation, announcement or preaching. In a religious context, kerygma is the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. This was the message Crozier members will be asked to share in their parishes.
While the seminar has been offered to diocesan clergy and staff in the past, this effort was geared toward Crozier Society members as a first step in introducing it to parishioners. The Crozier Society consists of Catholics who “take a leadership role in helping the bishop carry out the mission of the Diocese of Green Bay to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, prayerfully worship in word and sacrament, and compassionately serve those in need.”
“We offered this to the Crozier Society to get them on the breaking edge of things,” said Tammy Danz, Bishop’s Appeal director for the diocese’s Catholic Foundation, which sponsored the seminar. “We do two events a year – in fall and spring. As the diocese’s vision and mission has changed, we want to keep people informed and we are starting with the Croziers.”
Julianne Stanz, diocesan director of Discipleship and Leadership Development, led the group through the five elements of kerygma with a combination of words, prayer and song:
- Creation: God is love and has created me for relationship with him.
- Fall: I have broken my relationship with God by my sin.
- Redemption: Jesus restores my relationship with God through his life, death and resurrection.
- Salvation: Jesus invites me to trust him, to turn from sin and to give my life to him.
- Re-Creation: Jesus has poured the Holy Spirit into my heart to bring me to new life in his church and sends his church on mission so that others can experience that new life.
“I think of kerygma as HOPE,” Stanz said. “That is healing, opportunities created, prayer and Eucharist.” It can be an experience that elicits intense emotion, she said.
Sr. Marie Kolbe Zamora, chair of the Department of Theology and Ministry at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, went on to explain the foundations of missionary discipleship. She stressed the importance of understanding where people are coming from and respecting that everyone is at a different place in the development of their faith and belief systems.
“It’s all about where you start the conversation,” she said. “Kerygma is about meeting people where they are and leading them to Christ. The new evangelization is the Catholic Church speaking in the terms of our current intellectual context. This is not a passing fad.”
“The Catholic Church cannot continue to do business as usual,” she said, a line that comes from the bishops in a 2012 document. “Culturally, everything is changing. We live in a church that is in dialogue with the world. People of different ages come at things differently. We need to change the way we talk about Jesus,” she said.
Drawing on her teaching experience with college students, Sr. Marie contrasted today’s “point of departure for moral conversation,” as she called it, to that of preceding generations. The current intellectual contexts come out of life experience and what people know about what is happening around them, versus the former intellectual context of living according to definitions and laws.
The contrast is in the way of arriving at decisions and understanding, she said. Often people come to the same conclusion but by a different route. For example, she said, the current context finds people who are highly creative versus those who prefer scholasticism.
The younger generation sees poetry, images and creating the ideal as dominant, compared to older generations’ rationality, ideology and wanting to match the ideal as dominant.
Leaving the audience with much to ponder, the speakers then talked about shared prayer and what a difference Jesus has made in everyone’s lives.
“I think it is very important that people who are not in the parish or not on parish staff hear the language we’re using,” said Janet Maroszek, a pastoral associate at Assumption Blessed Mary Virgin Parish in Pulaski. She attended with her husband, Eugene, who agreed that these types of seminars are important for advancing evangelization.
“When people come to us in the parish, they know the terms we are using and they, in turn, can talk to others,” she said.
Others commented that the seminar helped to define discipleship, and that all these things are basic, but good reminders to all people.
Lenore Domers, a member of St. Pius X Parish, Appleton, said she attended the event because she wanted to continue being part of the Alpha program, a video series on Christianity which is being rolled out in parishes across the diocese this fall.
“As a volunteer, I work with the St. Joseph Food Program (in Menasha), interviewing people,” she said. “I am able to encourage people and I lead the prayers one day a week. In the past, I was a nurse in the military and am currently a chaplain for a local military organization. These are all ways I connect with people and can share the story.”
“It reminds us that we don’t have to preach. We share faith by the way we live,” Maroszek said.