Year of Mercy Reflection Day:The New Evangelisation and Missionary Discipleship
On the afternoon of Sunday 7th February 2016, 300 people from the diocese of Cloyne gathered to be part of a Year of Mercy Reflection day led by Dr Edward Sri. Dr. Sri is a theologian, author and internationally-known Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN. He currently serves as professor of theology and Vice President of Mission and Outreach at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado.He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and resides with his wife Elizabeth and their seven children in Littleton, Colorado.
Dr Sri held the attention of the entire group with his dynamic and engaging presentation. The points he made were convincing and credible and spoke very powerfully to those present.
In his first presentation, he spoke about Pope Francis’ great desire to hold a Jubilee Year of Mercy.Dr Sri said that sin is a wound and it requires medicine. We encounter God’s mercy by facing the truth about ourselves, by standing in the truth of our lives. This is turn makes us more merciful towards others and hence it is good to acknowledge weakness, fragility, and our need of reconciliation with Christ and with one another.
Dr Sri called for a greater sharing of our faith in a new way. A more missionary-styled message whereby we do not just stay in our comfort zone but, as Pope Francis challenges us, becomemissionary disciples! We can do this by cultivating a culture of encounter, by showing mercy in our relationships, and by reaching out to the poor in spirit with the joy of the Gospel.
In the second presentation, Dr Sri spoke very powerfully about engaging the culture from the perspective of the New Evangelization. A major challenge for Catholics today is the culture of relativism whereby it is believed that there is no objective truth in society, but merely each person’s capacity to create their own truth – that which is true for them. Such a culture has a definition of love which is “self-getting” as opposed to “self-giving.” This leads to a selfishness which can enslave the human soul which, in itself, has been made for greatness and for relationship with others. Dr Sri spoke about the teaching of Pope St John Paul II who said that the human person finds one’s true self only by making a gift of oneself to another.
Everyone in the room listening to Dr Sri was provoked into thought about how to live as a Catholic in Irish society as we know it today. It was a moment of communion for those privileged to be present. One participant captured the mood in the room:
Dr. Sri was absolutely amazing! it was a terrific afternoon, there was such a sense of purpose in the room and it was great that we all said the prayer for the year of mercy together, I felt it was very powerful. I’ve spent the weekend writing up the notes I took on Sunday and am keeping the book I bought to read during Lent.
Following on from these presentations, Dr Sri’s colleague, Dan Donaldson, presented us with some possibilities for increasing the work of evangelization and faith formation in the diocese. We were encouraged to consider what we can do in our parishes to provide faith formation initiatives. This conversation will continue on April 9th when a follow-up Workshop will take place in the Diocese.
The afternoon concluded with a summing up by Bishop Crean who captured the day very powerfully through his own episcopal motto – Croi le bri Nua or Heart with New Vitality.He then gave us his blessing, asking us to go out and share the Good News with courage and joy in our hearts.