Recruiting British Catholics to Evangelize

Bishop Malcolm McMahon on the CASE Program

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NOTTINGHAM, England, OCT. 21, 2005 ( The bishop of Nottingham is offering a new program to help people break through the fear barrier and give witness to Jesus Christ.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon, 56, oversees the episcopal conference’s Catholic Agency to Support Evangelization (CASE), which offers resources to help Catholics spread the faith in England and Wales.

This year’s theme, «You’re Hired!» seeks to recruit more Catholics to the evangelization effort, promising a «heavenly pension plan» for the work done on earth. The prelate explained the program to ZENIT.

Q: What is the current moral climate in Britain, which inspired you to start the CASE program?

Bishop McMahon: The climate which encouraged the setting up of CASE is more to do with spiritual needs than an atmosphere which questions the morality of our culture. The bishops were aware of this and this is our response.

The searching that goes on amongst people in England and Wales is predominantly a spiritual quest: questions concerning God and our relationship to him.

The moral questions are always there and are part of the scene, especially poverty, life issues and the Iraqi war, but the answers that most people, especially the young, are seeking are generally to do with God and the spiritual life.

One aspect of CASE’s work is to show the intimate connection between the spiritual things and morality.

Q: Could you say something about the origin and objectives of CASE?

Bishop McMahon: CASE was founded out of the resources left by the Catholic Missionary Society. The CMS’s work was mainly to put on parish missions. This work was not having the same effect as it did years ago, hence the change of direction.

CASE maintains the work of the Catholic Enquiry Center, which it inherited. It also has a very proactive Web site which gets a colossal number of hits every week.

The CASE team works with parish and diocesan teams, showing them how to become evangelizing communities, and supplements this direct form of evangelization.

Q: How does CASE help on a practical level to bring Christianity to daily life?

Bishop McMahon: On a practical level these workshops on evangelization are put on throughout the country and are proving very successful. Parish communities take evangelization seriously now!

CASE also has a special remit to link up with the new movements and communities who are also working in the area of evangelization. This networking has led to the production of a directory of evangelization resources.

Q: What is the «fear barrier» that people face, and how would you suggest breaking through it?

Bishop McMahon: The fear is mainly on the side of practicing Christians who are afraid of talking about their beliefs to others. Yet people are thirsting for the Good News.

So the first step has to be to form adults in their faith so they can speak with confidence.

A second step is to create an awareness of evangelization within the parish community so people can work together. There is nothing like working with a partner to dispel fear.

Q: How does CASE help dispel the fear of evangelization?

Bishop McMahon: CASE can help parishes and other communities overcome fear through the support and resources they offer as well as formal training sessions.

Q: Are you making use of any to the latest publications — the compendium of the Catechism, the compendium on social doctrine, etc.?

Bishop McMahon: Yes, all the Church’s documents are featured on the CASE Web site. It is the strength of these documents as formational resources that gives backbone to our mission.

Q: What are your hopes for this new «heavenly pension plan» recruitment drive?

Bishop McMahon: If one or two people come closer to Christ then our «heavenly pension plan» will have been worth the effort.

But you never know; this may be just the idea that captures the imagination of people and turns them on to their destiny as children of God.

Q: How can the example of the apostles motivate Catholics everywhere to share their faith in Christ?

Bishop McMahon: The apostles were so effective for two reasons: They were ordinary working people and they were filled with the Spirit.

If we can only realize that we are called to proclaim the Good News of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ in our homes, workplace or wherever we find ourselves, and not just in special places like a church or school, then we will be much more effective, and secondly we should remember that in the gift of the Holy Spirit which we have all received God did nothing less than share his life with us.

That should be more than enough for us, and these two reasons are why the apostles are such good examples to all Catholics.

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