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DISCIPLES IN MISSION

Length12 min.
Age GroupA - Adult
PublisherPaulist Nathional Catholic Evangelization Assoc.
TopicsEvangelization

Describes the Paulist mission of evangelization and the process (Disciples in Mission) of establishing an evangelization team for your parish.

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  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesOSWIECIM, Poland (CNS) -- Sitting with head bowed and eyes closed, Pope Francis paid silent tribute to the victims of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. The pope arrived July 29 at the Auschwitz-BirkenauNazi death camp in Oswiecim, an area now blanketed by green fields and empty barracks lined by barbed wire fences, remnants of a horror that remains embedded in history. Used by the Nazis from 1940 to 1945, the camp was the Nazi's largest and consisted of three parts: Auschwitz I, where many were imprisoned and murdered; the Birkenau extermination camp -- also known as Auschwitz II -- and Auschwitz III (Auschwitz-Monowitz), an area of auxiliary camps that included several factories. In 1942, Auschwitz became the site of the mass extermination of over 1 million Jews, 23,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war and thousands of Polish citizens of different nationalities. Among those killed were St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, and Edith Stein, a Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Crossing the gate inscribed with the infamous motto "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work sets you free") the pope quietly sat on a small bench for 10 minutes with his head bowed, occasionally glancing somberly around before closing his eyes in silent prayer. He stood up, and slowly walked up to the wooden post of one of the barracks, reverently touching and kissing it. The pope then made his way to Block 11 to greet a dozen survivors of the camp, including a 101-year-old violinist, who survived by being in the camp orchestra. Pope Francis greeted each survivor individually, gently grabbing their hands and kissing their cheeks. Among the survivors was Naftali Furst of Bratislava, Slovakia, who was deported to Auschwitz and was evacuated to Buchenwald in January 1945 before his liberation. Furst, who now lives in Israel, gave the pope a photograph showing him and other inmates imprisoned in the Auschwitz barracks. Pope Francis also signed a book for Furst before he made his way toward the "death wall" where thousands of prisoners were lined up and shot in the back of the head before their bodies were sent to the crematoriums. Candle in hand, the pope lit an oil lamp in front of the wall, before praying and laying his hand on the wall. He then turned around and entered the barracks of Block 11. Also known as "the death block" because the Nazis used it to inflict torture, it houses the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe spent his final hours, starved and dehydrated before being given a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Pope Francis entered the darkened cell, illuminated by a faint light from the corridor, revealing a candle, an engraved plaque marking the site of the Franciscan friar's death, and countless words -- even a cross -- etched on the walls by those who spent their final moments in the starvation cell. Once again Pope Francis sat in silence with his head bowed. Alone in the cell for eight minutes, he occasionally looked up to contemplate his surroundings. Outside the cell, he signed the visitors' book, writing a simple message: "Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty." Pope Francis then made his way to the Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, driven in an electric cart on a path parallel to the railroad tracks that carried countless men, women and children to their doom. It now leads to a monument that honors their memory. To the left of the memorial lay the ruins of one of four crematoriums used to incinerate the bodies of those who died of disease or starvation or who were executed in the two gas chambers housed within the extermination camp. The pope approached the memorial to the victims, lined with 23 plaques, each inscribed with a message in a different language: "Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women and children, mainly Jews from various countries of Europe." Passing each plaque, Pope Francis reached the end of the monument where he set a candle in a large glass bowl and once again stood in silence, clasping his hands together over his chest in prayer. While he prayed, the voice of Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Joseph Schudrich echoed Psalm 130 in Hebrew throughout the camp. The psalm begins with a cry to God: "From the depths I have cried out to you, O Lord." The event ended with the pope greeting 25 people honored as "righteous among the nations," a recognition of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi extermination. Among those present for the solemn occasion was Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of the pope from Buenos Aires. Speaking to journalists July 28, Rabbi Skorka recalled a telephone conversation with Pope Francis in which he asked about the visit to Auschwitz. "The pope told me, "I am going to behave the same way I did in Armenia -- the places where people were killed -- I will remain silent,'" he said. "From a theological point of view and from a biblical point of view, this attitude means a lot," the rabbi said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesCZESTOCHOWA, Poland (CNS) -- God chose to manifest his power not by amazing feats of greatness but rather through small acts of humility, choosing to enter the world as a child born of a woman, Pope Francis said. The Lord's "humble love" is reflected throughout Poland's history, particularly through "meek and powerful heralds of mercy," such as St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, the pope said July 28 at a Mass outside the Marian shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa. "Through these 'channels' of his love, the Lord has granted priceless gifts to the whole church and to all mankind," the pope said. The Mass marked the 1,050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland, which celebrates the Christianization of the country following the baptism of Mieszko I, the first ruler of the Polish state. Prior to leaving Krakow for Czestochowa, the pope visited the convent of the Sisters of the Presentation and stopped at a nearby hospital to visit Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, retired archbishop of Krakow. The 89-year-old cardinal, who is in "serious condition," succeeded St. John Paul II as archbishop of Krakow following his election as pope in 1978. With thick clouds gathered over the Jasna Gora Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Pope Francis arrived by car rather than helicopter, as planned. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said officials had told the Vatican it might not be safe for the helicopter to land. In Czestochowa, hundreds of thousands of Poles lined the street leading up to the shrine, which houses the famed icon of the Black Madonna, traditionally held to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist. St. John Paul had a special devotion to the famed image. After his election, the Polish pope visited the shrine on June 4, 1979, and entrusted his pontificate to Mary. Pilgrims waving banners and flags anxiously awaited the arrival of Pope Francis who, like his predecessor and many Poles, shares a deep connection and reverence to Mary. Viola and Evelina, two local pilgrims, journeyed with their families to the shrine hoping to catch a glimpse of "Papa Franciszek." "This is the first time I will see the pope; I have never been to a World Youth Day before," Viola told Catholic News Service. "It is very important for us to see and hear the pope, even if it was a long journey here to Jasna Gora," Evelina said. Viola also stressed that young people in Poland like herself are hoping for a "special word" and that the pope "tells us what we can do for our church." "Young people of Poland need the pope to show us what we can do with our lives and which roads can lead us to (a better) future," Evelina told CNS, adding that young people are also hoping to learn "how we can live here in Poland with people from other countries." Arriving in the popemobile at the shrine, the pope made his way to the monastery that houses the image of the Black Madonna. After the pope was welcomed by Father Arnold Chrapkowski, superior general of the monks of St. Paul the First Hermit, the image of Mary was slowly revealed with the fanfare of drums and trumpets. The pope stood still, gazing at the Black Madonna in silence for several minutes before carrying a gold rose to the altar below the image. He was then presented with a gold chalice and a replica of the image, which he reverently touched and kissed. Beginning the outdoor Mass, Pope Francis missed a step as he was blessing the altar and an image of Mary with incense. He stumbled and fell, but quickly was helped to his feet and continued the liturgy without problem.At a news conference that evening, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, said the pope had tripped on loose carpeting and had later insisted there was no need for hospital treatment. In his homily, the pope reflected on the coming of God into human history not by a "triumphal entrance or striking epiphany" but rather in "the simplest of ways." "Thus, contrary to our expectations and perhaps even our desires, the kingdom of God, now as then, 'does not come in a way that attracts attention,' but rather in littleness, in humility," the pope said. Recalling the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, the pope said that Christ's humility is again exemplified in "a simple miracle" that "brings joy to the wedding of a young and completely anonymous couple." Unlike the "tragically human" attraction to power and grandeur, God manifests himself and saves humankind "by making himself little, near and real," the pope said. Christians are called to reflect God's closeness by "radiating goodness through the transparency of our lives," he said. Poland's history, he stressed, is marked by occasions in which God has taken them by the hand and "accompanied you in so many situations." "That is what we, too, in the church are constantly called to do: to listen, to get involved and be neighbors, sharing in people's joys and struggles, so that the Gospel can spread ever more consistently and fruitfully," the pope said. Pope Francis also noted that Poland's history is a testament to God's real presence, the "contagious power of faith" and devotion to Mary. "If there is any human glory, any merit of our own in the fullness of time, it is she. Mary is that space, preserved free from sin, where God chose to mirror himself. She is the stairway God took to descend and draw near to us. She is the clearest sign of the fullness of time," he said. As she did in Cana, the pope continued, Mary offers her presence and counsel in order to "avoid hasty decisions and grumbling in our communities." "May each one of us be able to make an interior passage, a Passover of the heart, toward the divine 'style' incarnated by Mary. May we do everything in littleness and accompany others at close hand, with a simple and open heart," Pope Francis said. - - -Contributing to this story was Jonathan Luxmoore.- - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesKRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- The youthful face of God's mercy can change the hearts of people who have lost hope, Pope Francis said. A young person who is touched by Christ is "capable of truly great things," the pope told thousands of young men and women July 28 at the welcoming ceremony of World Youth Day in Krakow. "Today the church -- and I would add, the world -- looks to you and wants to learn from you, to be reassured that the father's mercy has an ever-youthful face and constantly invites us to be part of his kingdom," the pope said. Arriving at Blonia Park in his popemobile, Pope Francis was enveloped in a sea of red, yellow and blue as pilgrims donned brightly colored ponchos to shield them from the rain. Taking his seat on the main stage, the pope was welcomed by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow and six young men and women representing Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia. After presenting the pope with a custom pilgrim's backpack, a group of young performers from around the world entertained the pope and the crowd by dancing traditional dances. The dances ranged from a young Indian woman swaying to the tune of sitar to a couple masterfully dancing to tango music. Following the Gospel reading, the pope thanked the youth for their presence, greeting them warmly saying, "At last, we are together." Encouraging them to cheer for St. John Paul II, the pope thanked his predecessor for initiating World Youth Day. "From heaven, he is with us, and he sees all of you: So many young people from such a variety of nations, cultures and languages, but with one goal: that of rejoicing that Jesus is in our midst," he said. The pope noted the festive atmosphere of World Youth Day and praised the "enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy" of the young men and women who make God's love palpable to the world. However, while extolling the virtues of a young, merciful heart, the pope also lamented young people "who seem to have opted for 'early retirement.'" "It worries me to see young people who have 'thrown in the towel' before the game has even begun, who are defeated even before they begin to play, who walk around glumly as if life has no meaning," he said. Deep down, he added, "young people like this are bored and are boring." The celebration in Poland, the pope continued, offers an opportunity for young men and women to help each other and "not be robbed of the best of ourselves." Pope Francis encouraged the youths to look to Jesus to receive a "true passion for life" and to "give the very best of ourselves." "Are you looking for empty thrills in life, or do you want to feel a power that can give you a lasting sense of life and fulfillment? Which one do you want: empty thrills or the power of grace? To find fulfillment, to gain new strength, there is a way. It cannot be sold, it cannot be bought, it is not a thing, nor an object. It is a person: His name is Jesus Christ," the pope said. He also invited them to dedicate their time in Poland to listening to Jesus and to each other in order to live a full life and to embark "on the adventure of mercy." "Here we are, Lord! Send us to share your merciful love," Pope Francis prayed. "We want to affirm that our lives are fulfilled when they are shaped by mercy, for that is the better part and it will never be taken from us."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Dennis SadowskiKRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- Tara Gouldring never thought of herself as a missionary to others. But the 18-year-old from Birmingham, England, decided it's not such a strange idea after hearing Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, during a morning catechetical session July 28 during World Youth Day. "It's inspiring to see God's mercy in so many ways and how I can bring it into my life and how (to) love people even though they do you wrong," Gouldring told Catholic News Service. "You can start with prayer for people who need help and hope to help more from there," she said. Bishop Caggiano's talk at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church focused on the idea that anyone can become a missionary of mercy by showing compassion, love and a caring attitude toward anyone who is suffering. He took the 150 young people in the church, most from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, back to the days before he became a priest. He was a sales representative for a major publisher in New York City, and on his way to work every morning he saw a homeless man in a plaza along the Avenue of the Americas. For weeks, he said, he ignored the man. "I was so self-absorbed it took me two months to realize this was a man there. I would literally step over him," the bishop said. Soon, he began giving the man $1 every day. "I thought I was giving him what he needed. I thought I was doing something good. I thought I was an OK Catholic," he said. Today, he realizes he was being far from merciful. "My friends, that may be good enough for the world, but that's not good enough for Jesus Christ. That is not what we are being called to do. We are being called to more than that," Bishop Caggiano explained. Then, dressed in the traditional bishop's cassock, waist sash and zucchetto, he got down on his knees and acted out how he should have responded. "You get down on your knees and put your hands under them and you bring them close to you and you lift them up," he said. "And the smell of the sheep is when your heart and their heart are so close that they touch." Acting with mercy can occur toward anyone at any time, as long as it is done to follow the example of Jesus, he said, suggesting that World Youth Day 2016 can be the start of merciful actions on the part of everyone attending the six-day celebration of faith. "Is it easy? No. Is it going to be something you and I will fail at? Yes. Are we going to learn from failure? Yes, because Christ will love us," Bishop Caggiano said. The bishop, who was the U.S. bishops' episcopal liaison for World Youth Day, called on each member of the audience to become a missionary of mercy one person at a time. Bridget Phiri, 20, of Wolverhampton, England, said she saw herself in Bishop Caggiano's story of giving money to the homeless man in New York. "Instead of just handing people money, I should get up and give them a hug and make them feel like they're a person too, like they're accepted in society. Something more physical than just giving them some coins and walking by," she said. "I think I need to re-evaluate how I look at things now and how I act toward people who are homeless or less fortunate," Phiri said. It comes down to letting God flow through each person's action, concluded Toby Duckworth, 21, of Streetly, England, who will enter the Venerable English College in Rome as a seminarian in August. "The challenge is to go beyond what the world sees as mercy. To go beyond even what we as human beings think is merciful. To me that is constant challenge, always, everywhere," Duckworth told CNS. Returning home to England and elsewhere, pilgrims will find it difficult to go beyond their normal circles, he acknowledged. But such work is never easy. The challenge is "be Jesus to others," he said.- - -Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Dennis SadowskiOSWIECIM, Poland (CNS) -- Walking into the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, Stephanie Dalton felt a chill up and down her spine. She called it the spirit of those who died at the hands of the Nazis more than 70 years ago. "You could tell the people's presence (was) still there," she said after her group from the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, walked through the camp July 25 as part of their World Youth Day pilgrimage. Dalton, 19, a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, spoke to Catholic News Service during a break after touring the camp and the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where nearly 1 million people were killed in secret during World War II. Looking at forested areas at Birkenau, Dalton said she could see the people who were held "in the beauty" after arriving by train in crammed boxcars as their fate was being determined by the Nazis. "They didn't know what was going to happen," she said in a solemn tone. The Brooklyn contingent totals about 600. Forty of them filled a bus and joined thousands of others from around the world at the camps a day before the official opening of World Youth Day. At Auschwitz, visitors walked in silence under the famous gate with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free.) Only the footsteps of the pilgrims on the dry, rocky ground could be heard. For some of the Brooklynites, the silence echoed what it may have been like for the Jews, Roma and others identified for extermination as they left the trains and walked to their death. Wadley Fleurime, 18, a native of Haiti and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, compared the pain of losing friends in his homeland's 2010 earthquake to how families must have felt when they lost loved ones and friends at Auschwitz. "It breaks my heart that something like this could happen, because I know what the heartbreak is like," he said. Patricia, 22, and Gabriella Ruiz, 19, sisters who belong to Mary Queen of Heaven Church, said after leaving Auschwitz they found it difficult to comprehend the killing that occurred onsite. They expect to share what they saw and learned with parishioners at home. "It was crazy that we were walking in the same place that they harmed people," Gabriella Ruiz said. Her sister described her experience as "surreal." The sisters want to research the Holocaust more deeply so that they can support their experience with additional facts and photos. "We can say we saw it with our own eyes," Patricia Ruiz said. Several contingents from France stopped at various locations at the expansive Birkenau site to pray and sing hymns of atonement for the sins of humanity. Dominick Costantino, 24, vocation program coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was walking with a young Polish woman, Monika Hulewicz, discussing the history of the camps. "It's very sad that humans could have done this to other humans," Costantino said. "It's amazing (that) you're walking in the suffering. In the silence you hear the stumbling, the falling, the crying of the people." Hulewicz, 23, said it is imperative for Poles to tell the story of the carnage at the camps. "It is very important for us to show that this is not just Polish heritage, but that this is the heritage of the whole world," she said. "It is a big, big reminder of how we can avoid doing it in the future." At the crumbling bricks of a dynamited Birkenau crematorium, Adrianna Garcia, 26, a member of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles Parish in San Antonio, stopped to discuss with a friend what she was seeing. She said that studying the Holocaust in school was far different than seeing the camps where mass executions were carried out. "You honestly don't get the full picture until walking the grounds," she said. As a fifth-grader in a Catholic school, Garcia had a Jewish teacher who would tell stories about the Holocaust. "Her stories can't compare to seeing this," Garcia told CNS. "She would take us to the San Antonio Jewish museum, but you can't compare it." She said the pilgrims who visit the concentration camps must take home the stories home and encourage others to make the same trip if they can. She said she already had been sharing what she saw on social media. "It's important not to leave it in the storytelling. Stories come and stories go. But if you live it, you can help others understand it," she said. - - - Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski. - - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.