Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Evanglelisation: Proclaim’15

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35 delegates from our Diocese joined upwards of 800 delegates from across the dioceses of England and Wales for Proclaim’15, a historic conference on evangelisation, which took place in Birmingham on Saturday 11 July.

Our delegates, led by Bishop Séamus and Sr. Michael, the Diocesan Evangelisation Team Coordinator, enjoyed participating in a dynamic, thought provoking and memorable day which left us all with plenty of ideas, thoughts and experiences to unpack in the coming months.

One of the underlying themes underpinning the whole day was the primacy of prayer. Evangelisation begins and continues in prayer. It is Christ who gives us the energy to evangelise through the time we spend in prayer. This vital role of prayer was reflected in the allocation of conference workshops to participants, each one of us was allocated three from a possible 11 workshops, but one of the three had to be ‘How to make prayer the foundation of your missionary parish’.

An impressive line-up of speakers included; Cardinal Vincent Nicholls, Archbishop Bernard Longley (Archbishop of Birmingham), Mrs Michelle Moran (Pontifical Council for the Laity), and Rev. Nicky Gumbel (Alpha). The MCs holding it all together and introducing or interviewing people were David Wells and Nana–Adwoa Mbeutcha (Premier Christian Radio).

A wide spectrum of different workshops was part of the day, run by experts in their fields, including our own Sr. Michael who ran three workshop sessions during the day.

Archbishop Bernard Longley (Archbishop of Birmingham), gave the opening address and pointed to Pope Francis' vision in Evangelii Gaudium of a Church that is fit for mission. In Evangelii Gaudium, he said, we are told to reject, “the grey pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness. A tomb psychology thus develops and slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum….” Archbishop Longley looked at two key elements of good discipleship – dialogue and outreach.

See the full text of the talk by Archbishop Longley

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, in his keynote speech, called on delegates to focus on three 'C's:
Our COLLEAGUES who have lost their way.
The CRY of the human heart.

Read the full text of the talk by Cardinal Vincent Nichols

The Conference was impressively well organised and everything ran so smoothly, giving everyone maximum enjoyment and benefit from the tremendous input and experience of the day. Many thanks too go to our Diocesan Evangelisation Team who arranged and coordinated our Diocesan trip to the conference.

It was an exciting and memorable day (though it must be said lengthy, as we started off at 5.00am and returned after 11.00pm!), which has given us food for thought, ideas for action and a feeling of being part of the bigger picture of evangelising.

For more information visit the Catholic News item.

Some comments from our Diocesan delegates:

"What a truly blessed day we had in Birmingham!

The event gave me a wonderful sense of belonging to a wide vibrant Church, and a national community centred on Christ and the person of Jesus. Uplifting and inspirational!"

Mary Quinn, St. Matthew's Jarrow.

"A wonderful, thought-provoking day shared with people from every Diocese. So much energy to take back to our parishes and deaneries. Recommend everyone reads Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium as we move forward together evangelising in hope."

Malcolm Frank, St. Augustine's Darlington.

"Attending the workshop, ‘How to share your testimony in one to one evangelisation’ demonstrated that in the time it takes to boil an egg (three minutes) it is possible to a give profound example of your personal faith experience."

Maria Ashburner, parish of St John XXIII, Penshaw.

"I was inspired by Cardinal Vincent’s three C’s: to reach out to our ‘colleagues’ in faith, those who may be curious and those who are crying out for help. It’s such a clear call, we must take care not to duck the challenge."

Jeremy Cain, Hartlepool.

"Proclaim’15 with Evangelii Gaudium at the heart was a great springboard to continue the Church's mission to go into the world to make disciples. With a real spirit of prayer, and hope and joy in our hearts, we show God’s love for us to others. If we have these as our foundation, the love made visible in Jesus will shine through us to the world."

Jonathon Bowes, Seminarian for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

"After attending Proclaim’15 I now feel inspired to return to my parish with a renewed willingness to confidently communicate the new paths of evangelisation I have discovered through this event."

Catherine Armstrong, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle.

"I arrived tired having left at 4.30am, but that was soon dispelled – the place was a buzz with high expectation! And Proclaim’15 did just that; it delivered what Pope Francis is calling us all to be ‘Missionary Parishes’.

John Osmialowski, St. Marys, Sunderland.

"The conference was a ‘breath of fresh air’ mainly because of the excellent speakers and the enthusiasm of those attending. There are many ways to evangelise and there was openess to all these and some new ideas too. More time needed."

Halina Holman, Willington and Langley Moor.