A Priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans
To my brother priests who share with me the one priesthood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; to the deacons whose self-sacrificial service continue to build the Kingdom of God; to the men and women who embrace the evangelical counsels in consecrated life; to all the lay faithful who compose the pilgrim Church: “To all the beloved of God…called to be holy, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord
In this, the dawning of the Third Christian Millennium, a renewed spirit of evangelization and an invigorated sense of joy and excitement for the Fundamentals of the Faith continue to propel us forward to preach the Gospel of the Lord. As disciples, as servants of the Kingdom, we must constantly proclaim that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life." At a time in which many in our secularized and pluralistic culture are saying that Jesus is "a way" or perhaps "my way," we must be committed to Jesus’ own proclamation that He is “the way, the truth and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through Him.”
Evangelization is the mission to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of all. It means bringing the Gospel to every person and to every situation. The work of evangelization is directed to those who have never heard the Gospel, to those who have heard it and have stopped listening, and to all who are searching for truth. Evangelization is not a program or an initiative, but it is a way of being Church, of allowing the Spirit of God to transform each of us into instruments of His mercy, healing and peace. In speaking the Word of God to the hearts of believers and non-believers, the Church instructs those who listen about the nature of truth, justice and charity. She enlightens their conscience with the principles of morality. She stirs them to translate these principles into action. Thus, by changing the criteria by which society judges its values, the Church influences culture for the good. Where the Gospel is preached and embraced, the dignity of the human person is upheld; the sanctity of life is respected; family life is cherished; and, economic affairs and political relations are transformed as means that bring about justice and peace.
As members of the Church, we preach the very person of Christ. Therefore, our efforts will succeed only when we ourselves have found the Lord Himself. All evangelization and catechesis presupposes that we are converted and that we are living an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord. What the world needs today are those who do not simply speak about Jesus, but those who make His truth real by the witness of their daily lives.
In our work of bringing Christ to others, we offer them the faith of the Church. We
do no one any service when we diminish or eliminate elements of Church teaching that are hard for today’s world. It is not simply our thoughts, our personal beliefs, and our own interests that we share with others. United with Peter, the Church was successful at her first efforts to preach the Gospel. United with Peter today in the person of the Holy Father, we are called to remain faithful to the whole truth of the Gospel as handed down to us by the Church. Our efforts to evangelize today are our willing response to the Lord’s mandate: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and yes, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). Christ’s command does not permit cold indifference to the work of the disciple.
May the world of our time, which is searching — sometimes in anguish, sometimes with hope — be enabled to receive the Good News not from disciples who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from servants of the Lord whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ and who are willing to risk their lives so that the Kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world!
All with St. Peter to Jesus through Mary, I remain
Sincerely in the Lord
Reverend Father Robert T. Cooper
St. Benilde Catholic Church, Metairie, LA
Fr. Cooper currently serves as the Pastor of St. Benilde Catholic Church in Metairie, Louisiana.
For more information about St. Benilde Catholic Church, please visit the parish's website: www.stbenilde.org
The Archdiocese of New Orleans, the second oldest Diocese in the United States, was
founded on April 25, 1793, by Pope Pius VI and was elevated to an Archdiocese on July 19, 1850. It encompasses 4,208 square miles and includes 8 civil parishes: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany and Washington. The Archdiocese contains a total of 108 Church parishes serving over 350,000 Catholics.
For more information about the Archdiocese of New Orleans, please visit the archdiocese's website: www.arch-no.org