Mentors for the New Evangelization (Discussion 1)

Sr. Johanna - Smaller

After a great convocation with Sr. M. Johanna, FSGM, we (Michelle and Lindsay) came into contact with many folks who were really excited to get started on her book Mentors for the New Evangelization. A handful of them were able to join us last Monday for our inaugural book club to chat about it. Our plan is going to be to share the thoughts and highlights with y’all, and then ask you to respond in the comments section! We look forward to interacting with in this digital media.

Let’s start with the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. We’d suggest that you first read this section of the book and then engage with this discussion.

Right from the start, the introduction offered some great insights on some desires common to all men and women, created in the image and likeness of God. Regarding the reflection, beginning on page xv, how can we use the topic of happiness to inspire both students in our classrooms and their parents?
This question sparked some really great conversation during our book club, thanks to John W. (one of our seminarians) bringing this section to light. We were all reminded of occasions when we had real, authentic conversations with folks about this fundamental desire for happiness and where happiness originates from. We know that happiness is most often a result of the pursuit of virtue and genuine relationships, which makes the jump to where our ultimate happiness is going to come from pretty simple. When we abandon ourselves and live in relationship with Jesus Christ our lives will find be filled with the most meaning and true joy. When it comes to presenting this concept to our youth and their parents, we recognized that throughout our life our capacity for happiness grows, so we should work within the parameters of where our people are at, knowing we can increase and deepen our capacity for true happiness found in Jesus Christ throughout our lives.

A reoccurring theme found in these chapters was that of inculturation, as the GDC describes (and Sr. Johanna quotes) this process is not simply “an external adaptation designed to make the Christian message more attractive or superficially decorative. On the contrary, it means the penetration of the deepest strata of persons and peoples by the Gospel which touches them deeply, ‘going to the very center and roots’ of their cultures” (Mentors, 22) . Of all of the examples of inculturation in these two chapters, which impacted you most?
While we certainly discussed how Our Lady’s appearance at Tepeyac Hill was one great lesson for us in inculturation, we spent even more time discussing the authentic ways in which the North American Martyrs helped the Gospel penetrate into the native cultures they came into contact with. In so many of the stories (especially those of St. Jean de Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant), we read of men who went to great strides to learn the language of the native people, relate to the things they loved, and identify with what was true, good and beautiful in their culture. This inspired an interesting conversation about what we should capitalize on, in order to work on the process of inculturation when it comes to working with today’s teens. A few (beautiful and good) aspects of teen culture that we recognized that we can work with are their desires for authentic, lasting relationships and their desire to give oneself away in service to causes larger than themselves.

What struck you about the evangelization of Mexico, stemming from Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition?
Without a doubt, what struck us most powerfully was the shear number of conversions that took place in the years following the apparition. We desire (in a big way) to have Our Lady’s intercession on our (new) evangelization efforts today. This conversation was coupled with appreciating Sister’s reflections on the importance of each individual soul growing closer to or farther away from the Church. There is a lot of work to do!

Regarding the witness of the North American Martyrs, how did their courage, bravery and hope in their eternal end inspire you?
As we talked about the stories of these martyrs, we were definitely impacted by their confidence in their relationship with the Lord and the hope of the world to come. In particular, this quote from St. Noel Chabanel stuck out to us and inspired us in big ways: “What difference does it make if I die or not. This life does not count for much. The Iroquois cannot snatch the happiness of heaven from me” (Mentors, 29).

Like we said earlier, we’d love to have you join us in this conversation. Of course, if you were struck by other things in these chapters, we’d love to hear them. We’ll be moderating the comments and chatting with you on this post all week!

Our next book club will be taking place on Monday, October 13th from 1:30 – 3:00pm at the Bishop O’Connor Center. You are more than welcome to join us in person for the discussion! No RSVP is necessary.

4 thoughts on “Mentors for the New Evangelization (Discussion 1)

  1. I was quite struck, too, by the introduction especially the characteristics of catechetical saints and equating holiness with true happiness, that Sister points out.

    In regards to Our Lady’s evangelization of Mexico, I was particularly moved by the reflection of Mary as catechist to Christ. As a mom (or a parent), what an insight! I also really enjoyed the context Sister provided. I am not a history buff and had just finished reading Waugh’s biography of St. Edmund Campion and here it is going on during near the same time frame!

    I was struck in the second chapter particularly with the reminder the catechists are missionary “brining the Gospel to a culture that, while in our own land, has turned its back on God.” p. 21 and contemplative in action.

    The account that from the same tribe and village that St. Isaac Jogue died at the hands of, St. Kateri would be born ten years later and into a Christian family! Certainly, we have no idea the power of our witness!!

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