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Do you have a loved one who has left the Church?

By Rose Robertson | Photograhy by Tom Gennara

Do you have a loved one who has left the Church?

Do you have a loved one who has left the Church? A spouse, a child, a sibling, a friend? Perhaps they still consider themselves Catholic, but they just don’t go to Mass. As Catholics, we know we should evangelize. But, we often are not even sure what to say to encourage the faith of those closest to us. Would you like to invite them back to church, but you just don’t know how? The Diocese of Lansing is holding a conference to teach you how! Called by Name will be held Oct. 21-22, 2016 at the Summit in Dimondale.

FAITH talked with Craig Pohl, diocesan director of New Evangelization, about this exciting gathering.

FAITH: Why is this conference different?

This conference will be one of a kind. It will happen once and not again. I believe it will be historic in setting a pattern for other dioceses to follow. There will be dynamic presentations, along with table discussions and immediate take-aways. Participants will walk out with a better understanding of how to help people they care about return to church, and they’ll be equipped with a personalized evangelization plan unique to their own life circumstances. To my knowledge, this same type of conference is not happening anywhere else in the country.

FAITH: What is the purpose of this conference, and who should go?

At our baptism, we were all called by name by the Father. The hope of this conference is to identify those we know personally who have also been called by name through their baptism, but are no longer active in their faith. Our goal for these two days is to motivate, inspire and equip active Catholics with the words and actions they need to reach out to those who have left. The conference is open to any Catholic who has a heart for inviting someone they love back to the Church.

I’ll give you one sneak preview: the number one thing you can and should do is pray! When someone is struggling with something in their lives, tell them you’ll pray for them. And do it! Then, and this is really important, check back in with them to see how things are going and tell them you’ve been praying for them.

FAITH: If I go to this conference, what can I expect?

You can expect to see 2,900 other people just like you! The conference is open to 3,000.

Both days will begin with Bishop Boyea presiding at Mass. Mass on Saturday will celebrate the feast of St. John Paul II, the father of the New Evangelization. The conference schedule will concentrate on four legs of evangelization identified by Bishop Boyea: prayer, witness, invitation and accompaniment. The days will be filled with energized presentations, table conversations, time to browse exhibitors, networking and music. The first day will end with Adoration and a special healing service.

Why a healing service? The bishop understands that many Catholics have fallen away from the life of the Church because of hurts and consequently need healing. On Friday evening, participants will be able to immerse themselves in an experience of healing with a focus on forgiveness. We will take people through a prayer exercise that will compel them to want to share this healing and forgiveness with others.

This assembly is aimed at helping those in the pew invite back those no longer coming and the next assembly, scheduled for 2018, will focus on evangelizing those who are unbaptized or who have never heard the Gospel. The overall goal of the bishop’s evangelization plan is to reignite the faithful in the mission of Christ, and to seek out and save the lost.

FAITH: Who will be the speakers?

Several notable speakers have been lined up to inspire and equip participants for the mission. First and foremost is Bishop Boyea, whose 2012 Pastoral Letter became the catalyst for the diocesan assemblies. The first assembly, held in 2014, was the springboard, and aimed to prepare parishes and their leaders to assist parishioners via discipleship groups, encounter opportunities and intercessory prayer.

Included on the speaker roster are Sherry Weddell, Co-founder of Catherine of Siena Institute and author of Forming Intentional Disciples; Deacon Ralph Poyo, president of New Evangelization Ministries; Sister Sarah Burdick, a radio host on Ave Maria radio; and Curtis Martin, Founder of FOCUS. All have traveled nationally or internationally to promote evangelization. 

FAITH: What can we expect to take away from this conference?

By attending this conference, you will have a tremendous amount of resources at your fingertips. There will be opportunity to dialogue with the speakers. Each participant will have a workbook to complete throughout the two-day process. At the end of the two days, the workbook will become your individual master plan to use to evangelize. People will walk away with more than just ideas. They will have answers and a personal game plan.

I believe everyone will go away inspired with a greater sense of mission for their lives. We all share the mission of bringing the Gospel into the world. People will walk out of this conference having learned how to do that, how to bring Jesus into every situation of life. At the end of the two days, the bishop will commission all those present to engage the mission in a new and energetic way by actively seeking out those who have wandered from the Church. It will be an unforgettable, memorable experience.

As St. Peter says, “Always be prepared to give a reason for your hope.” Come to Called by Name and find out how you can give your friends and family your reason for hope.”

Called by Name: What it is and what it's not

You may be wondering whether this conference is for you – the very word ‘evangelization’ has all kinds of connotations for people. So here’s a quick list of some things you can expect at Called by Name.

What it’s not about:

  • Pressure to go door to door and evangelize
  • Training to speak on street corners
  • Handing out leaflets at the mall
  • A high-pressure hard sell of faith

What it is about:

  • Learning how to speak with a loved one about faith without “turning them off.”
  • Learning how to share your experience of God’s love in a way that is unique to your gifts.
  • Giving you tools to talk about God and your faith in a way that is natural for you.

If you have someone you love with whom you’d like to share the love of God, this conference is for you. We hope to see you there – and we are praying for you.

Sign me up! 

How do I register? Anyone interested in attending can register by going to Registration can be completed online, or by printing off the form and mailing it in.