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Canada March 14, 2019

Evangelization Summit responds to abuse crisis

By Deborah Gyapong

Father Mark Goring of the Companions of the Cross speaking at last year’s New Evangelization Summit. This year’s event will be free and will address the clergy abuse scandal. (CCN photos)

See also: 3 Vancouver parishes hosting evangelization summit.

OTTAWA (CCN)—When Cardinal Gerald Lacroix speaks at the New Evangelization Summit here May 4, he will address how one shares the Good News when the Church is engulfed in bad news.

“I have asked him to speak about evangelizing today in light of the scandals that have shaken the Church,” said Michael Dopp, co-founder with his wife Linda of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries and organizer of the annual event that launched 2015 and reaches thousands at the host site in Ottawa and satellite sites across North America including Vancouver.

“We have to evangelize today and the scandal impacts that,” Dopp said. “The corporate witness of the Church has been impacted, the reputation of the Church, the view people have of Catholics and Catholicism has been degraded, and so part of the summit is we have to face those questions and how do we evangelize to the world today, not how it was 1,600 years ago, or 100 years, or two years ago.”

After the scandals broke last summer, the Dopps were thinking of how those who attend the summit leave “really encouraged in their faith,” he said. “But it seemed so heavy, so much bad news.”

“Many Catholics are feeling a profound disappointment, discouragement and frustration,” said Dopp. “We don’t want to pretend this is not serious, real and relevant.”

“It’s important for us to rely on the Lord and remember the divine institution of the Church; also the human dimension of the church that has been so unfaithful.”

“It’s encouraging for Catholics to be with other good, faithful men and women, so I really see the summit as a time where people can re-connect with the beauty of the body of Christ and be encouraged by each other.”

Because of the positive impact previous Summits have had on attendees, the Dopps decided to make the event free to draw in as many people as possible this year. 

“When we were praying through at the time of the scandal, it is what I felt the Lord was asking us to do,” Dopp said. “So, for us it hasn’t been scary because of the Lord’s prompting, and we know he will provide for his people.”

Michael Dopp, organizer of the New Evangelization Summit in Ottawa May 4, says it’s important to recognize the abuse crisis is “serious, real and relevant.”   

“Obviously, there’s a big risk in it,” he said, noting they have sponsors so far to cover about one third of their costs, but they are hoping people will partner with them to help finance the event.
As usual, the summit features several top-notch speakers with great track records in evangelization, in addition to Cardinal Lacroix and Dopp.

Michele Thompson and Father Jon Bielawski, co-developers of the Genesis Mission, a parish renewal program that has spread across the Plymouth Diocese in the United Kingdom, will speak about their project that aims to “raise up a new generation of people who have a deep and integrated sense of discipleship,” according to the summit website.

“We aspire to create habit and tradition and a shift in culture that will deeply and permanently affect Catholic Christians for generations to come, sending people out as Agents of Life and Change into a world of desperate need,” says the NewEvangelization.ca website.

Another featured speaker from the U.K. is Michelle Moran, who with her husband Peter are founder members of the Sion Catholic Community for Evangelism. Moran is the author of several books on evangelization and served as president of the International Charismatic Renewal Services from 2008 to 2016.

Father James Mallon, author of Divine Renovation: From Maintenance to Mission and other books about his successful parish renewal program is making a return appearance at the Summit.
The Dopps also decided to make the summit a one-day event to make it easier on the host sites to accommodate. Since host sites are often churches, sometimes the Friday night segment of the summit conflicted with other parish events.

Dopp expects 750 people at the main Ottawa location, with registrations filling up fast. This year, they have 55 satellite locations where people can go to a parish or hall in their city to view the talks live. They had 34 host sites last year and had a goal of 50 for 2019. There may be a few more host sites “trickling in,” he said, noting the summit will reach thousands of Catholics.

More information about registration can be found at newevangelization.ca.

Canadian Catholic News