Evangelisation & Faith Formation
Evangelisation means bringing the Good News to all strata of humanity, and through its influence, transforming humanity from within and making it new (On Evangelisation in the Modern World, 1975, n.18).
To evangelise is first of all to bear witness, in a simple and direct way, to God revealed by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit; to bear witness that in his Son God has loved the world - that in his Incarnate Word he has given being to all things and has called every man and woman to eternal life (On Evangelisation in the Modern World, 1975, n.26).
At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus commissioned his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The term used by the Church to describe this activity is evangelisation.The Church’s understanding of evangelisation includes both proclamation of the gospel messageto all people and its challenge to each individual to inner transformation in response to the gospel proclaimed.
Since 1990 and the release of John Paul II’s Redemptoris Missio, the term “new evangelisation” has become part of Catholic vocabulary. McGrath (2012) observes, that although John Paul II employed the term before 1990, it has resulted in at least three dimensions of meaning:
The first meaning is contextual and refers to baptised Catholics whose lives are disconnected from the Church. The second dimension of meaning refers to its attributes. As early as 1983, John Paul II called for a “new evangelisation; new in its ardour, methods and expression” (p.5). The third dimension of meaning applies to renewal of the whole project of evangelisation. As McGrath states, “it has become a paradigm for all pastoral activity, one that links mission and communion in all three ‘situations’ of evangelisation” (2012, p.285).
When individuals and communities express in a simple and direct way who they are and what they do because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, they are engaging in the work of evangelisation.
The Catholic school participates in the evangelising mission of the Church and is a privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out. In this way Catholic schools are at once places of evangelisation, of complete formation, of enculturation, of apprenticeship in a lively dialogue between young people of different religions and social backgrounds (The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, 1997, n.11).
Catholic schools are both educating and evangelising communities. They are evangelising communities to the extent that they give an authentic voice to the religious dimension of life through the lens of a community of faith. Catholic schools evangelise through their particular culture, through the life witness of members and through the curriculum. These are means through which a school community invites all of its members into a conversation motivated and inspired by the good news of Jesus Christ.
Catholic schools invite people to move towards commitment to, and involvement in, a Christian community. This occurs through the process of evangelisation. People are invited to share in a more conscious and deepened way the Christian community’s experience of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Within the context of the Catholic school, faith formation describes how its members are immersed in the shared beliefs, language, symbols, liturgy and activities of the Catholic Christian tradition. While schools recognise that they make a contribution to the faith formation of individuals, faith formation is a lifelong process. The role of the Catholic school in faith formation is to nurture both those who are already actively engaged with a faith tradition and those who are yet to engage in a journey of explicit, active faith.
Evangelisation and faith formation are focused in an explicit way on the call to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, to respond to it in daily life and to deepen personal understanding and faith.
Three elements of evangelisation and faith formation are: living the gospel; spiritual formation; and witness to the wider community.