Julianne Stanz, director of Parish Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, has a very simple way of explaining what evangelization is and why it is so important: “It’s sharing the good news of Jesus’ love for every single person and how that love transforms us to live truly joyful lives.”
“Evangelization is sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others,” she added. Stanz is excited about what is coming as the diocese looks to the future. “The one by One campaign can really provide us with an opportunity to broaden our formation,” she said.
Evangelization and “Strengthening the Spirit of Encounter” is one of the key planks of the Diocese of Green Bay’s one by One campaign. Powered by the Holy Spirit, the diocese knows that for evangelization to be relevant in people’s lives today, it must also be relevant to today’s communication methods. Many of those who need to encounter the healing, teaching and loving presence of Jesus Christ have a deep digital presence, spending much of their time online, communicating and sharing their life experiences through social media.
With funding made possible by the one by One campaign, the diocese will develop evangelization resources, courses and discipleship seminars that may be readily adapted for online consumption and interaction without neglecting the real need people have to be in relationship with others.
This is an exciting time for evangelization, said Stanz. In 2014, the diocese launched a process into the new evangelization called “Disciples on the Way,” with Bishop David Ricken inviting all to become “missionary disciples.”
The goal of “Disciples on the Way” is the renewal of each person and, in turn, each parish through a process to help people to discover Jesus, follow Jesus, worship Jesus and share Jesus.
“Pope Francis is urging all of us to reach out, to be deeply rooted in prayer by developing an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Ricken, writing about Disciples on the Way. “He asks us to share the fruits of the spiritual intimacy we have with Jesus with everyone in our lives, so others see the joy of Christ shining forth in us.”
Parishes have begun this process with Alpha, a series of interactive sessions designed to dynamically present the Gospel and the essentials of Christian faith in a way that reaches the hearts of men and women.
Alpha helps people grow in their own journey as disciples. Through a series of Discipleship Formation Seminars, parish leaders are equipped to go out anew to help others to encounter Jesus and his body, the Catholic Church. The expansion of these seminars will be part of the one by One campaign.
“I’m hoping we can create more pathways for leadership,” Stanz said. The one by One Campaign will aid parishes in establishing resource teams that can serve within parishes as well as reach beyond to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
“We are seeing people coming back to the Catholic Church after 20 to 30 years through Alpha,” said Stanz, explaining that it is so effective because it can be tailored to the local culture of each parish.
So many people are struggling with the pace of life, she continued, and the world’s message is “an accumulation of power,” “serve yourself” and “take what you can.”
“People are weary of that message,” she said. “It’s a message of false happiness, not true joy.” Jesus’ message is different: “live for others” and “live simply,” said Stanz. “We have to be much stronger in articulating the message.”
“Everyone can think of someone in our lives not practicing the faith,” she said, and people need to know that within a parish community they will feel respected and treated as individuals, no matter their walk in life.
Stanz said the reason why so many people come to parishes for Christmas and Easter is because of the “sense of community and warm welcome” they receive. “Most importantly, the celebration of the Eucharist” brings people in, she added. Now the question is, “How can we encourage them to stay?” she asked.
“That’s why I like the actual title of this campaign,” Stanz said of one by One. “We want to reach out to every person within the 16 counties of the Diocese of Green Bay, one-by-one.”