Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/20/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If it's true that good storytelling is the basis of effective evangelism then the Catholic Church is the most fertile soil one could imagine.

In spite of being ignored, and in some cases blacklisted, several of the hosts of EWTN radio and TV shows grew ministries of their own in the evangelistic Catholic style of Mother Angelica's still-prospering network. Jeff Cavins is one of the most successful of Mother's "graduates." There is no Catholic layman in the country better qualified than Jeff to create a new template for Catholic evangelism.  He told me during the inter-view that he will be implementing a "creative" approach to evangelism in his role at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins  for my weekly show  on Ave Maria Radio.  Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins for my weekly show on Ave Maria Radio. Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/20/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: evangelism, evangelization, New Evangelization, renewal, bible, scripture, E.W.T.N., EWTN, apologist, catholic apologist, Jeff Cavins, Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica, Deal W Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins  for my weekly show  on Ave Maria Radio.  Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

There was a time in the mid-90s that many established Catholic leaders did not care much for Mother Angelica and her radio/TV network.  This wasn't helped when the USCCB wasted millions of dollars on a failed TV project of its own.  In spite of being ignored, and in some cases blacklisted, several of the hosts of EWTN radio and TV shows grew ministries of their own in the evangelistic Catholic style of Mother Angelica's still-prospering network. Jeff Cavins is one of the most successful of Mother's "graduates."

There is no Catholic layman in the country better qualified than Jeff to create a new template for Catholic evangelism.  He told me during the inter-view that he will be implementing a "creative" approach to evangelism in his role at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  He began to explain this approach by talking about "pre-evangelism," our ability to lay the groundwork for speaking to a person about the Church.  This involves creating a relationship, earning the right to speak about such a weighty matter, and learning to listen before speaking.

Pre-evangelism is a marvelous term to describe what we have been trying to do through this series of columns at Catholic Online as well as with our Church and Culture radio show.  First, we create a point of contact with individuals who might not otherwise be interested in anything Catholic or Christian. This is done through what I have termed cultural apologetics, using something of mutual respect, or mutual disregard, to start a conversation about why coming from differing perspectives we would find value in the same thing. 

Jeff Cavins went on to discuss the next phase, when you are able to discuss, explicitly, matters concerning faith and salvation.  This conversation should be connected to what was discussed during the pre-evangelism phase but should not suddenly become doctrinal or dogmatic. As Cavins explained it, we must learn to tell stories, stories that contain a positive message of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and love.  "The last thing in the world," I replied, "that should be placed on top of persons seeking salvation is more guilt; to be told, for example, they are in a state of mortal sin."

Cavins agreed with me that American Catholics, for the most part, are uncomfortable with the topic of evangelism, which they identify with a, largely, Southern style of preaching and personal witnessing that turns them off.  It's not among the dispositions of Catholics in American culture to comfortably share their faith with others, to recognize opportunities in daily life to raise the question of ultimate concern.  There needs to be a homegrown style of Catholic evangelicalism, and I expect to see it soon emerging from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  (Not to put any unnecessary pressure on Jeff at his new job!)

What about the evangelical style exhibited by Mother Angelica and the other hosts of the EWTN network?  To my mind, it represents the pre-evangelization of America's Catholics but will not be the evangelism itself. Mother's EWTN has prepared the ground nationally for the kind of work Jeff Cavins will do at his archdiocese. 

To speak of limitations regarding the house style of EWTN is only a foot-note to an apostolate that has changed the character of Catholicism in America more than any other in the last 30 years. But every institution reaches its limits, unless it hears a call for change, and EWTN shows no sign of having heard such a call. The spectrum of Catholics it now serves is aging quickly. Even though EWTN has created a Catholic subculture of its own, that will not be big enough to sustain the network in to the future, that is, without substantive changes in programming and a variation of style. 

The one exception to this is the work of Raymond Arroyo as news director - he has expanded the vision of EWTN and made it a presence in Washington, DC and part of any international event, whether in the Vatican or not, of importance to the Church. Arroyo has also been able to treat the issue of politics with great sensitivity and non-partisanship, thus, bringing another range of, often controversial, issues to its viewers.

In fact, I would compare Arroyo's work at EWTN with that of Jeff Cavins and predict that the Catholic form of evangelism soon to be born will be deeply influenced by both of them - intelligence wedded to taste, good humor, confidence, courage, flexibility, and the ability to tell great stories.  Both men, like anyone associated with EWTN, carry the disposition to evangelize with them 24/7.

After all, the Catholic version of Christianity has far more stories ready-to-hand than any other denomination - from its 2000 year history and its role in the creation of Western Civilization to the stories of its saints, martyrs, clergy, and religious.  If it's true that good storytelling is the basis of effective evangelism then the Catholic Church is the most fertile soil one could imagine.

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

The Prophetic Dream of Don Bosco and the Leadership of the Pope

Image of The saint saw the Church as a great Ship of Peter surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels. They were engaged in intense warfare. At the helm of the Church was the Pope who at one point in a fierce battle fell mortally wounded. The enemies of the Church closed in sensing this was their moment. In the vision two columns then emerged from the great ocean

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. Visions use symbols to communicate. They often have numerous applications and interpretations. We have been blessed with successors of Peter who are steering Christ's Church through those two columns, ... continue reading


For the first time in 100 years, Yosemite National Park hosts extremely rare sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox Watch

Image of For the first time in 100 years, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in the Yosemite National Park.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the first confirmed sighting in nearly 100 years, the rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been captured with motion-sensitive cameras in the Yosemite National Park. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red ... continue reading


Disaffected Colorado teenager who tried to join ISIS gets four years in prison Watch

Image of After serving four years in prison, 19-year-old Shannon Conley must spend three years of supervised release and serve community service.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Poor choices made in youthful hast have consequences. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Conley, from Colorado has been sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. At the heart of this disturbing story is an Internet romance that went ... continue reading


Coin collectors of the world eagerly line up to see 1822 Half Eagle at convention Watch

Image of Historically, nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. As the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

One of the rarest coins in the U.S., the 1822 Half Eagle, originally worth only $5, will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend. There are only three of the coins known still in existence. The coin will go on ... continue reading


California's Kern County declares state of FISCAL EMERGENCY with plunging gas prices Watch

Image of Supervisors adopted a plan to immediately begin scaling back county spending rather than making deep reductions all at once in July.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kern County, in central California, relies heavily on its petroleum industry for tax revenues. While motorists nationwide are currently enjoying lower gas prices, this spells certain disaster for the County of Kern - officials there have declared a fiscal ... continue reading


Could terrorists attempt to attack the White House with a drone? Crash sparks debate over future use of drones in war Watch

Image of A small, four propeller drone, crashed on the White House lawn, spurring a discussion on whether drones may be used by terrorist groups in the future.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A two-foot-long, four propeller drone crashed onto the White House grounds yesterday, raising troubling questions that drones could be utilized by terrorists or other potential murderers to attack the White House or other U.S. government institutions that have ... continue reading


The Thrill of the Chaste: Matt C. Abbott Interviews Dawn Eden Watch

Image of Dawn Eden, author of the highly-acclaimed My Peace I Give You and the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

By Matt C. Abbott

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the ... continue reading


GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope ... Read More

Psalm, Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
69 and he has established for us a saving power in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:35-41
35 With the coming of evening that same day, he said ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 31st, 2015 Image

St. John Bosco
January 31: What do dreams have to with prayer? Aren't they just random ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter