Roman Catholic 
Diocese of Ogdensburg


The Office of New Evangelization exists
To support parishes in forming
Joy-Filled, Intentional,
Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ
So that On Fire with the Holy Spirit
They will be witnesses that
transform the culture around them.


I am going to try something new at the Office for the New Evangelization: a lunch-time Evangelization chat via Microsoft TEAMS.  

The basic format will be a short video (most of them are around 10 minutes) followed by an informal discussion.  It will be every Wednesday from noon until 12:30pm.  Bring your own lunch, log onto TEAMS and we will watch the short video and chat.  We will use Julianne Stanz's Missionary Discipleship Course, which is also available on  This way, if you need to miss a week here or there, I can send you the link so you don't miss any of the content. Here is a quick intro:

MS julianne Stanz



In this course, Julianne Stanz, the Director of Parish Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, will present principles, processes, and practices to help your parish mobilize to make missionary disciples.  As Julianne’s introduction makes clear, our parishes are in a moment where real renewal is necessary, and the pathway forward is to make missionary disciples. Where to start? How to proceed? That is what this course is all about.

We will start the Brown Bag Evangelization Chat on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.  If you would like to participate, please register at

I will send out step-by-step instructions on how to access TEAMS which is a free download for your computer or smartphone. We will probably spend a little time in the first session getting familiar with TEAMS which is the preferred virtual meeting platform of our Chancery. 

I hope you will join us.  

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BOOK REVIEW: Start with Jesus: How Everyday Disciples Will Renew the Church

start with jesus


Start with Jesus: How Everyday Disciples Will Renew the Church By Julianne Stanz

This is another well written book on the topics of discipleship, creating vibrant parishes in order that they can transform the culture. It is similar in scope to previously reviewed books on discipleship and evangelization such at Made for Mission by Tim Glemkowski and The Contagious Catholic by Marcel LeJeune.

Start with Jesus argues that the parish is still the best place to help people encounter Christ and grow in community in order to change the culture around them. The parish is the place where people connect with the Church and should be the place where they are uplifted and nurtured. The parish is the local family of faith. Parishes should be centers for forming disciples and transforming sinners into saints.

The Church is countercultural to our prevalent consumerist and individualistic world culture. The church is both the medicine and the cure which shows people the alternative way of life: the life of Christ. The Church transforms hearts of ordinary people to follow Jesus and forms them into disciples growing in holiness. These disciples then make disciples, slowly transforming the culture and the world one heart at a time, accompanying people both in joyful and difficult times.

The book answers questions using stories and examples from the many parishes that the author has visited and worked with in her role as Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization.

Some of the main topics are:

  • Why we need to evangelize and what is evangelization? It explains what the mission is and who should do it.
  • What is the Good News and what is good about it? And once we understand what the Good News is, how can we share it?
  • How did Jesus do it? How did he share the good news and form disciples?
  • What is the role of prayer in the process of evangelization and being and forming disciples?
  • How can our parishes bring hope healing and hospitality to our hurting neighbors and world?
  • How do we accompany, walk with others on their journey, and who walks with us?
  • How does forming disciples change the culture? Why should we focus on people and relationships rather than programs and institutions?
  • What is the vision and mission of our parish, and who leads us?
  • Where do we start?

Through relatable stories we learn the who, what, where, when and how of forming disciples and evangelizing our parish and the surrounding community.

If you are looking for a place to start in your parish to build a vibrant culture of discipleship, Start with Jesus would be a good book filled with examples and ideas that can be used to form small groups and set them on fire for the mission of evangelization.


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Archive of Past Reviews




When I was an architecture student at Georgia Tech, one of the murals in our design lab announced that every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution.  The Covid19 Pandemic has forced everyone to adjust and be creative in new and unexpected ways.

The problem:

For most of us, we cannot meet for workshops in our parish halls and classrooms, and even when we can, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of gathering around a table for small group discussions. These small groups are really the heart of many workshops.  For those who are comfortable with the small groups, discussions while sitting 6 feet apart or masked make it difficult to share more personal and intimate reflections which is the power of small group work.

The creative solution:

Virtual Workshops via Zoom is one solution.  Is it the same as in-person workshops? No. Meeting in-person would always be preferable. Being physically present is different and meeting via Zoom is a pale imitation of meeting face-to-face.  We miss the body language and the ability to easily move in and out of multiple conversations when speaking through a screen.  But there are some benefits to the virtual option as well.

Meeting from the comfort of your own home:

All you need is access to the internet, a laptop or a smart phone with a camera and a microphone to participate.   But you do not need to drive anywhere, weather is not a problem (hello, winter!), and there is no need to get dressed up.   For evangelization, this is a game changer.  People who may not have been comfortable walking into a church or church hall, can now participate in faith discussions, or at least sit back and listen from the comfort of their own home.  We have had participants in virtual Alpha programs who had been invited to in-person Alpha programs many times, but just were not ready or able to come to a parish hall to participate.  When the option for a virtual on-line Alpha came along the threshold was low enough for them to be able and comfortable to try it out.  After all, if they did not like it, all they had to do is click a button to “leave the meeting”. 

Distance is not a deterrent:

We live in a huge Diocese.  It is not unusual for a workshop facilitator to drive two hours or more to a location, present a two-hour workshop, and drive another two hours or more to go home.  Considering that many workshops are on weekday evenings, this makes for some very late nights. Facilitating a series of workshops over many weeks, such as Alpha or The 99, or The Search would become very impractical and often impossible in the winter.  Presenting these workshops virtually, participants can receive the benefit of the workshop as well use the virtual workshop as a training for becoming a facilitator themselves in their own parish when it is  possible to meet in person once again. It is always easier to run a program if you have participated in it yourself.

It is possible to meet with multiple parishes at once:

Since distance is not a problem, and the technology allows for creating breakout groups, it is possible to offer a workshop or masterclass to multiple parishes at once.  Recently, our office offered a Virtual 99 Masterclass to four parishes as well as a group of participants from the Diocese of Syracuse. We all watched the presentations together, and then broke into our small parish groups for discussions. Again, it is not a perfect solution, but it is possible.

Available Workshops:

alpha graphic

Currently, the office of the New Evangelization is running a pilot online-Alpha.  It is anticipated that we will run a new Online Alpha course starting in February of 2021.  Alpha is a process for sharing the initial proclamation of the Gospel and so is geared primarily to those outside the church or marginally connected.  It is an easy, no-pressure opportunity for participants to explore the basics of Christianity. 



We have just completed our first 99 Masterclass with four parishes and one small group from the Diocese of Syracuse.  We plan to run the 99 Experience open to anyone in January of 2021.  The 99 is a three-part process of evangelization training.  The 99 Masterclass is aimed at parish leaders to explore various facets of evangelization.  The 99 Experience is for the person in the pew and can be likened to a parish mission. The third part is the 99 Handbook which would be great for small group discussion to go deeper into the content. The idea is that the three parts can be run repeatedly so that some who have participated in the Experience or book discussion would return to do the Masterclass and then help facilitate the Experience for a new cohort.  In addition, the 99 Experience would be a possible follow-up to the Alpha process.



We will run The Search discussion group, which is a discipleship program available on for a small group this October.  The program is aimed at people both inside and outside the church who want to explore questions about the meaning and purpose of life and how our faith in Jesus Christ makes sense of our experience. If you have a small group that would be interested, we can run another session of this discussion. The Search is a wonderful resource for discussion groups that also can serve well as a follow-up to Alpha or simply for participants to think about and share their own experience of faith.

Vespers from the Liturgy of the Hours: every weekday as schedules permit, a small group of participants come together to pray vespers from the Liturgy of the Hours using Zoom and iBreviary. 


To learn more:

If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved with any of the available virtual workshops or would like to talk about other possible workshops to be presented either virtually or in person, please contact Marika Donders at the Office of the New Evangelization at or 315-393-2920 or see  The Office of Evangelization is sponsored through the Bishop’s Fund and provides these workshops free of charge to parishes and parish groups.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Contagious Catholic: The Art of Practical Evangelization




The church exists to evangelize, and we, our generation of Catholics, are responsible for evangelizing this generation. Why should we concern ourselves with evangelizing the people we know and care about? Because everyone who has ever lived still lives somewhere, and we want those we care about to live forever in heaven, in the city of God, in union with God.

Many of us see the need to evangelize but do not know where to start. Marcel LeJeune's book The Contagious Catholic: The Art of Practical Evangelization gives us a starting point. It is a practical guide, a how-to book, to the art of evangelization.

I started reading this book when we were still in lockdown and dealing with the coronavirus.  For that reason, one line in the introduction struck home in a particular way: 

"We treat our faith like a virus and quarantine ourselves from others. Yet this one we want to spread. Spread the love of Jesus. Evangelize.”

Three things that are required for evangelization: That we listen, that we practice and that we pray.

God created us out of love and wants us to return to him. We are to live out of His love, give it to others and offer it and those we evangelize back to God. He gives us grace to do all this. He gives us the Holy Spirit to be channels of Grace for others and to go and make disciples. This is what we are commanded to do and the reason the church exists. We are made to to love God and love people like He does. We need to bring others to heaven along with us. God's desire for salvation of souls needs to become our desire.

Only disciples can make disciples, but only if we use the strategy that Jesus gave us, and if we love. So what is that strategy? We know the mission: go make disciples. We know why: because we want to be faithful and because it is what everyone needs. The HOW is the question. What is the strategy Jesus gave? Cooperate with the Holy Spirit (it is not our work). Know Jesus ourselves (it is all about relationship). Be not afraid (with God we can do all things). Be ourselves (we are sons and daughters of God and loved by Him). Be interested (people are not projects; listen to them, listen to their questions and needs). Everyone is loved by God and has an innate dignity (God loves them more than we ever could.)

We need to encounter people so that they can encounter Christ in us (and we in them)! Be a friend and bring that friend to Christ, and believe that the Holy Spirit will work though us.

Evangelization is not a formula. Doctrine is not about having all the right answers. It is relationships that transform lives. We need to form relationships with those outside the Church. Most Catholics have only friends who are Catholic or Christian. We remain comfortably in our common surroundings and customs, but to evangelize, we need to get out of our comfort zones.

The disciples did not stay in the upper room. They were scattered throughout the world. We need to do the same. We need to get outside of our parishes and go into the world and live our faith out loud. We need to stop hiding in our pews and do things that are a bit uncomfortable. There is no growth, and we produce no fruit unless we get out of our comfort zones.

The mission is to go and make disciples. The vision is to establish the kingdom. The strategy is to invest deeply in a handful of disciples and form them to do the same, thus multiplying the Church exponentially.

To see how that can work, read the book! It is a wonderful read, full of practical insights. It includes amazing stories as examples of what to do and what not to do. Each chapter comes with questions that are great for personal reflection or, better yet, as prompts to share your stories with a small group. After all, we need to practice talking about Jesus, about our relationship with Him and how He has transformed our hearts so that we can go out and do the same with those who have not yet encountered His love.


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