Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

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'Proclaim 15' – what is it about?

It is described as a project launched by the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales “to support, inspire and encourage new expressions of parish evangelisation”

That may sound very impressive but, really. what is it all about? To answer that let's go back to the very beginning.

First, take a look at the last two verses of the final chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you; and know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time” (28:19-20). Could Jesus have expressed more plainly than that what he expects of his followers?

Then in St. John's Gospel we read, in what must be one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole of the New Testament, how Jesus, newly risen from the dead, appeared to the frightened, despondent disciples in the Upper Room. "Peace be with you" he said, and they were utterly filled with joy. Then he said to them again "peace be with you" and this time he continued: "As the Father sent me, so am I sending you" and he breathed on them saying "Receive the Holy Spirit".

The disciples of Jesus were commissioned by Jesus to continue his mission. Just as he was sent by the Father, so in turn those who believe in him are sent out with Good News. Guided and empowered by his Spirit, the first disciples went out to tell others about Jesus so that they may share the joy of knowing him and of accepting him as their Saviour and Lord.

This is a duty Pope Francis frequently reminds us we need to attend to more urgently. Often, however, Catholics have been hesitant in reaching out to others. To help us make a more positive response our Bishops have launched this initiative called “Proclaim 15” and have planned a National Conference to be held in Birmingham in July. Our diocese will be represented by 35 people including clergy, religious and lay people, representatives from deaneries ,young people, the field of education and members of our Deaf community. Rachel Braithwaite of our own parish will be among the Salford Diocese group.

 

Listen to Cardinal Vincent Nichols speaking about preparing in prayer for the National Conference 

 

You can also hear Archbishop Longley of Birmingham who will host the Conference

 

You can find out more about 'Proclaim 15' as presented by the Bishops here

 

For a report on the Conference click here