Greetings of peace and welcome to our Annual Diocesan Pastoral Congress. Our theme this year is, “Know Christ, Live Christ, Lead Others to Christ,” in the context of the Church’s mission of evangelization. The Catholic Church is called the “universal sacrament of salvation,” for she transmits Divine Revelation, or the truth through evangelization. The Second Vatican Council clearly stated that “the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is a basic duty of the People of God.” The Church exists to evangelize. She received the divine commission from Christ to “Go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.”
By virtue of our Baptism, we are called to proclaim the Gospel to all who seek the life-giving message of faith through personal encounter with Jesus Christ. We do not only proclaim the Gospel but also teach God’s plan for our salvation through catechesis. The General Directory of Catechesis says that catechesis is “a school of faith.” Its purpose is to transmit the Word of God by presenting the Catholic faith rooted in the Holy Scriptures and tradition, as well as to deepen our communion with God, and to make a person’s faith become “living, conscious and active through the light of instruction.”
Clearly understood, evangelization and catechesis are both necessary parts of our mission. When we proclaim the Gospel we evangelize, and by teaching God’s truth we catechize to help others establish union with Christ that will hopefully urge them to open their life to the Word of God, to the sacraments, to virtuous living, and ultimately to their vocation to holiness.
So, we have the sacred responsibility to become faithful proclaimers and efficient teachers of the Gospel. St. Pope Paul VI in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, taken up again by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, writes that, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” In other words, we become “authentic missionary disciples by the witness of our lives, in words and deeds.”
Our Lord continues to call each and every one of us to be a part of the evangelizing mission of the Church in various capacities and Church ministries. Let us take our vocation seriously by training ourselves to help others of every age and stage of life to fulfill their baptismal call to holiness in family, Church, and society, as well as to evangelize and transform the world into a more caring and just society. (USCCB, A Pastoral Plan for Adult Formation)
Together with all the clergy, religious and laity, we are co-workers and partners in the mission of evangelization. Let us seek God’s wisdom so that the seeds planted through us may bear fruit in our parish community and in our society. We entrust our life and ministry into the hands of God, who is present and acting in the Church, in the world and in our heart, that our gathering may be grace-filled and fruitful.
Finally, we are grateful to the Congar Institute for their partnership with us in our ongoing formation and for providing this year’s Pastoral Congress with a wonderful virtual experience.
Please know that you are in my prayers as you gather in your respective parishes as one faith community in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, “To Know Christ, Live Christ and Lead Others to Christ.” Let us seek God’s favor and invoke his presence in and among us.
Let us pray:
Lord, God, whose blessings reach to the ends of the earth,
you show us your love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
whom we call Savior and Lord.
Confirm us in our common faith, that we may walk together with you and one another.
Send your blessing upon your Church, that what we have begun in the Spirit
may be brought to completion by your power.
May the gifts of God unite us in faith, hope and love, now and forever.
And may almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The video of this message may be found at https://www.dioslc.org/ under Pastoral Congress 2021.