The Syro-Malabar Evangelization team is an initiative aiming to coordinate all the evangelistic activities under one umbrella. Along with this, the team is also collaborating with National Centre for Evangelization (NCE) Australia to ensure that our community is supporting the evangelization needs of other Australian communities and sharing our experience of engagement with the Church’s ongoing call to mission and renewal.
Pope Francis said “the work of evangelization belongs to all people, and that the richness found in a variety of traditions can be a way of opening people’s hearts to the Gospel. The new stage of evangelization we are called upon to follow is certainly the work of the whole Church, ‘people on the way to God’. Evangelization “by its very nature belongs to the People of God.” (Vatican City, Sep 29, 2017 / 11:06 am (CNA/EWTN News))
It is important that in our evangelization efforts we know how to touch people’s hearts and to help them discover the sense of God and His love that gives confidence and serenity despite difficulty and challenge.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
In Mathew’s Gospel, Jesus entrusts us with the evangelical mission. While the evangelical mission may seem daunting, St. Francis of Assisi puts it in simple terms saying, “Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” Through this, St. Francis challenges us to preach the Gospel through our own lives and actions, evangelising the world by being role models ourselves.
It is important to remember that Evangelization must always be directly connected to the Lord Jesus Christ. “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.” (Pope Paul VI in his book, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World)) Pope Paul VI reminds us that the center of all our evangelical actions must be our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasises the role that parents play in the evangelical journey, underlining the importance of responsibility of parents in evangelising their children at a young age. “Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.34 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.” (CCC2225)
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37)
Evangelisation remains one of the greatest challenges facing our Church today. ‘Evangelisation finds its fulfilment when the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are proclaimed by our actions and our words.’ (Understanding Evangelization p.12)
Many Catholic churches are shrinking in membership and seeking a way to listen to people’s needs and respond to them in a meaningful way. The media is also vilifying the reputation of the Church.
Evangelization is not limited to clergy, but it is a call for everyone. Through the Baptism, all of us are called into the mission of the Church to promote the reign of God, continuing the mission of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. “Lay people also fulfil their prophetic mission by evangelization, “that is, the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life.” (CCC 905)
It is a calling that has not changed over the years, as Pope Paul VI affirmed in his letter on “Evangelization in the Modern World.” The Bible teaches us, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent”. (Acts 18:9)
Under this evangelization umbrella of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of the St. Thomas the Apostle, let us all stand together and proclaim the good news in our country. Praise the Lord!
Fr Varghese Vithayathil MST
I was born in Changanacherry, Kottayam district, Kerala, India. I am the third child, one of twins, of the Chackala family.
My parish in Kerala is St. Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral Church, Changanacherry. Here I was actively involved in all Church activities, with my main focus being a choir musician in three parishes, St. Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral Church, St. Thomas and St. Joseph Church.
I completed my secondary education at St. Benchman’s college, Changanacherry, and then moved to Bangalore for higher computer studies. I worked in various locations in India until I moved to Singapore in 1994. In 1996 I married Princy (Vadana) and we have three children.
In Singapore, I was actively involved in Malayalam Church and Jesus Youth activities. I took part in initiating a significant number of prayer groups throughout Singapore. I was instrumental in leading the prayer group and music ministry for Church and Jesus Youth. In addition, I was actively involved in conducting retreats and assisting preachers in supporting the praise and worship and music ministry.
In 2003 I moved to Melbourne, Australia, where I met and joined hands with our Chaplin Fr. John Aravanakara. Together we encouraged and progressed the formation of the music ministry and conducted the yearly retreats. During this period, I was also actively involved in supporting the development of Syro-Malabar Church in Melbourne from the initial stages until its formation.
During my time in Melbourne, I also took the initiative of starting the Jesus youth (JY) for the first time in Australia with the support of Fr. John Aravankara, JY International Team.
In 2007 I moved to Canberra and have been working with Fr. Francis Kolencherry and Fr. Varghese Vavolil. We have jointly initiated a significant number of activities to include, Music Ministry, Prayer Groups, Catechism, Syro-Malabar Youth Movement (SMYM), amongst other things.
For many years, I have travelled all over Australia to Share the word of God, Praise and Worship, Music Ministry, and support many internal and visiting retreat teams in various parts of the country.
Currently, with the blessings and support of our parish priest Fr. Mathew Kunnappillil, I hold the position of, Extraordinary Holy Communion Minister, Animator of Syro-Malabar Youth Movement (SMYM) and Catechism teacher. I take classes in Pre-Marriage preparation, (Family & issues, Finance, Communication and Third Millennium Families) and have done so since their inception. In addition I am working closely with Fr George Mankuzhikary, Director of Family Apostolate, in assisting and supporting families with issues.
I am a team member of Shalom World Canberra in promoting the channel, and helping the Shalom World head office in Canberra.
Recently, Syro-Malabar Church has appointed me as the national coordinator of the catholic congress in Australia.