Vison 20/20 mentors reach out to parishes in new and old ways

By Barb Arland-Fye

The Catholic Messenger

Sharing the joy of the Gospel requires creative methods of communication during the coronavirus pandemic, including the old-fashioned telephone call, Vision 20/20 mentors have discovered.

For starters, nearly 50 of the 60 mentors (members of parishes in the Diocese of Davenport) participated in an online meeting April 4 rather than in person because of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to mitigate its spread.

The mentors’ mission is to assist parish evangelization teams in developing plans for sharing the Good News and reaching out to the peripheries through the joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) provides the framework for the Vision 20/20 initiative and the mentors.

While the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated social distancing, cancellation of all public liturgies and closure of many businesses and all diocesan schools, going out to the peripheries continues in different ways.

“We don’t need to be spiritually distant,” Vision 20/20 facilitator Dan Ebener told the mentors. “We need God in our lives more than ever.” That observation became clearer as presenters online talked about ways to reach out to mentor parish evangelization teams and pastors.

Vision 20/20 Steering Committee co-chair Michael Havercamp described the present crisis as a desert experience. He said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI observed that “in the desert we rediscover the value of what is really essential for living. What is truly essential is our relationship with one another.” Some of Havercamp’s most blessed encounters recently have been with family around the kitchen table, the backyard and the front driveway, he said.

Ebener encouraged the mentors to consider the concreteness of doing the little things, as Pope Francis suggested. For Ebener, that means “reaching out to people I haven’t talked to in a while” with a telephone call. “We need each other and we need God in our lives more than ever,” Ebener said.

He asked Father Tony Herold, the diocese’s vicar general and pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, how mentors can be most helpful to pastors. “What we’re trying to do with Vision 20/20 is to instill a spirit of evangelization and relationship and outreach.” Mentors can model that. Give the pastor a call, just to connect. Consider asking, “How’s it going? What’s it like at this time to be a priest?” Building a relationship goes a long way, Father Herold said. “And isn’t that what evangelization is all about — relationship?”

Pam Pelzel encouraged her fellow mentors to praise the efforts of their mentor parishes in their outreach to parishioners during this (coronavirus) crisis. “Make sure that we pray for our mentor parishes daily and their pastor and staff and pray for our own parishes, pastor and staff,” said Pelzel, a member of St. Mary Parish-Grinnell.


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