Bring the New Evangelization to Lent 2014
John and Tery Gay led a successful Living the Eucharist program at their parish, Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake, N.Y.
More than 1,200 registered families. A thriving parish school. Varied and active ministries. Devoted parishioners. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in historic Ellicott City, Md., has all the hallmarks of a vibrant and growing faith community.
Just one year ago, John and Teri Gay say they were “flying-under-the-radar” parishioners of Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake, N.Y. But Father James E. Clark had other plans for the Gays.
The Corpus Christi pastor asked the parishioners of seven years to lead a new parish program, Paulist Evangelization Ministries’ Living the Eucharist. This parish-based program helps parishioners connect the celebration of the Eucharist more closely with the mission of Jesus Christ and the Church while inspiring them to live more intentionally as disciples of Jesus during the week. Designed as a three-year Lenten program, parishioners take part in adult and teen faith-sharing groups, family activities, devotional and catechetical Lenten readings and a prayer campaign.
The transformative encounters with Christ participants experience through Living the Eucharist are hallmarks of the New Evangelization, said Father Kenneth Boyack, CSP, vice president of Paulist Evangelization Ministries.
“Living the Eucharist brings the New Evangelization to life in parishes through efforts to invite and welcome inactive Catholics and seekers as well as fostering memorable encounters with Christ through more vibrant and prayerful liturgies,” he said.
And the success of Living the Eucharist is measurable. Some 310 adults, teens and children participated in Living the Eucharist at Corpus Christi during Lent 2013, and the Gays report that more than 95 percent of the participants said the experience gave them “greater understanding of the Eucharist and had made them more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.”
“This feedback indicated that this enlightening Paulist Evangelization Ministries program had met an important spiritual need in our church,” said Mr. Gay, the president of an engineering firm.
One Corpus Christi participant offered some anonymous feedback: “The Living the Eucharist small group experience has made me feel I belong with my church, and like I’m a part of a community. I put Jesus in my life and in my journey more.”
Corpus Christi is not alone in their success with Living the Eucharist. Nearly 500 parishes have participated during Lent throughout the United States since 2012, and of the over 2,500 adults who gave feedback, 92 percent said they have a greater understanding of the Eucharist, 88 percent participate more fully in the Mass, and 94 percent are now more committed to live as disciples of Jesus each day, according to Father Boyack.
“It is truly magical to see Living the Eucharist in action,” said Mrs. Gay, an author and historian, “and to witness the Holy Spirit alive in our midst at Corpus Christi, helping us to grow in our Catholic faith and to strengthen our bonds with one another as fellow parishioners and as disciples of Jesus.”
Living the Eucharist is available in English and Spanish. For more information, visit livingtheeucharist.org.