Last Monday I attended the winter conference for directors of religious education in the Brooklyn diocese. Meeting at the old seminary building in Douglaston, about 200 DREs heard Mr. Victor Valenzuela from the Oakland, California, speak about the New Evangelization.
He started by stating the Holy Father and bishops will be "going full bore" on this topic, now that we have seemingly gotten over the "speed bump" of the New Roman Missal. Victor admitted this "new" evangelization is simply rediscovering the emphasis for mission ad Gentes begin with Vatican II and Gaudium et Spes, Evangelium Nunziandi, and later Redemptoris Missio.
Everything he said, Maryknollers already know and practice. Victor emphasized that today, mission is no longer defined by or limited to geographic areas, but must include inner conversion. "Mission can only proceed from a personal relationship with Jesus," he said.
The challenge facing religion teachers is that few parishioners attend post Confirmation. At least the new Roman Missal encouraged many to return to church for Mass, if not enroll for a refresher course in Catholicism 101.
He then gave public acknowledgement for the overseas mission work done by Maryknoll over the tears. When I "air-pumped" my arms, he said, "And it seems we have a Maryknoller with us here!" At which point the assembled group erupted in applause. So I did my bit that evening to fly the Maryknoll flag.
The entire content of Victor's talk can be seen and read at: www.victorvalenzuela.net
Speaking of Brooklyn, we have eight relatively newish priests from Brooklyn here for two days of reflection. They do intermingle at meals, so maybe we can instill a schmeckel of the mission spirit in them before they return to their parishes.