What is Evangelii Gaudium Sunday?


Monday, August 1, 2022 @ 1:23 p.m.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The third Sunday in September, formerly called Home Mission Sunday, is now Evangelii Gaudium Sunday. Named after Pope Francis’ first (solo) Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, this day offers the Catholic community in England and Wales the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of our faith and our commitment to witness to the fullness of life in Christ.

Father Jan Nowotnik, mission director at the Episcopal Conference, tells us more about the day and how you can support this important work.

Evangelii Gaudium Sunday will be celebrated in Catholic parishes in England and Wales on Sunday, September 18, 2022.


You can watch the interview on YouTube or follow the transcript below.

Q: Today we are talking about Evangelii Gaudium Sunday, formerly known as Home Mission Sunday. It will be celebrated on September 18, 2022. And I am accompanied by Father Jan Nowotnik, our mission director here at the Episcopal Conference. The day was known as Home Mission Sunday. It is now ‘Evangelii Gaudium Sunday’, some people may not know the meaning of Evangelii Gaudium and why we called this day ‘Evangelii Gaudium Sunday’, so tell us…

Well, to answer your first question, Evangelii Gaudium is the title of the first Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis in 2013 when he became pope, and he spoke then of the joy of the Gospel. So Evangelii Gaudium is Latin for “joy of the gospel”. And in it, he was really inviting the Catholic Church to be joyful in proclaiming the faith – in seeking new ways of understanding the faith and reaching out to others. On our Evangelii Gaudium SundaySeptember 18, what we are trying to do is help people understand what we are doing here at the Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference to support our bishops in three areas of their work.

The first is evangelism and discipleship, which encompasses all the work that bishops do in these areas – particularly supporting our evangelism and catechesis coordinators in the 22 dioceses of England and Wales. So the job here at the secretariat is not to tell people, up and down, what to do, but to support that work and to be a conduit where information can be gathered and people can give and receive information and share good practice about what is happening across England and Wales to bring people to faith and form them in the faith.

At the heart of this is the work we are doing with bishops to institute the ministries of catechist, lector and acolyte – supporting Pope Francis’ desire that we formally institute catechists for the Church and admit more lay people into the ministry of reader and acolyte.

Q: For those who may not know, what is a sidekick?

Well, sidekick means to be the candle bearer. You might be thinking “My God, why are we training people to carry candles?” But realistically, in our parishes we have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion – those lay people who help distribute Holy Communion – but also visit the sick and have outreach in the parish. So I think the Holy Father means that it is an important ministry in the Church and it is now more open. Previously, it was just for those heading for the priesthood, so seminarians, those training to become priests, would be instituted as lectors and acolytes. But Pope Francis has said everyone should be able to do them, men and women, and the hope is that we will gradually start to introduce them into Church life in England and Wales.

Q: Now Evangelii Gaudium Sunday has evangelism at its heart, how we reach out, how we spread the beauty of our faith. But we also talk about the beauty of the liturgy, the beauty of our churches and the heritage found there. Tell us a bit about that.

So the area of ​​Mission, which I lead, encompasses the first aspect we talked about – evangelism and discipleship – but it also supports the work of bishops, guided by them, in areas such as liturgy and heritage. We respond to requests from Rome for liturgical texts, ensuring that we have appropriate English translations which are then approved by Rome. Also offering liturgical formation opportunities in the dioceses of England and Wales. What happens in our church buildings is essential and very, very important – the heart of what we do as Catholics when we come together Sunday after Sunday for the Eucharist – but we also preserve the beauty of the buildings. The buildings we have need to be maintained and maintained. We have dedicated people here, who work within the secretariat, who support the bishops in their dioceses to look after historic churches and listed buildings in order to obtain funds so that they can be repaired and maintained. This allows them to be truly beautiful places, so that when we enter them we are caught up in this mystery of God’s beauty. This is really important work which has generated millions of pounds in funding for our churches, for which we are very grateful.

Q: What is the third element?

Dialogue and unity are the two additional aspects of the job that I would like to emphasize and, again, perhaps not always fully appreciate. When I was in the parish, I remember we had our ecumenical “testimony walks”. We would engage with Christian ministers from other churches. People may be surprised to learn that we also do this at the national level. So part of the work that we do on the mission team is to work with members of other Christian denominations and members of other denominations. In fact, the other half of my title is to be the national ecumenical officer. I work directly with bishops to support them in this work. For example, I find myself at the General Synod of the Church of England, representing the Bishops of England and Wales, and I also represent them in many ecumenical bodies.

The other day, members of the mission team were supporting one of our bishops during a visit to a mosque, creating better and deeper relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We also work with the Jewish community, with the Sikhs, with the Buddhists. So there is a lot of evangelization, which perhaps does not directly affect the life of the diocese, but it is really important work. When we think of ecumenism, Jesus in the Gospel according to John, chapter 17, prayed that we would all be one. So it is the work of Christ that we are doing. We also support diocesan ecumenical coordinators – directly supporting their diocesan bishop and encouraging this work across the country.

Q: There are also outreach activities for those who have no faith, aren’t there?

Absolutely. ‘Cause I’m thinking back to Evangelii Gaudium and even go back to Paul VI in 1964 in a really important document Ecclesiam Suam on the nature of the Church… Pope Paul VI spoke of the fact that we have a dialogue, obviously, with ourselves in the Catholic Church, with other Christians, with those of other religions, and then those who seek God – people of Goodwill. In Eucharistic Prayer IV there is this beautiful phrase about “those who seek you with a sincere heart”. So we try to find ways to interact with people. And again, that brings us to this view of the heritage and beauty of our churches, if our doors are open and people walk into a church, maybe the first thing they will do is marvel that there is something special and they might just want to engage in a dialogue. So we support this work as best we can.

Q: It’s a second day of fundraising and we’re just coming out of a pandemic and times are pretty tough for people. But we would encourage some support, financially if possible, but certainly prayerfully, for these important aspects of our work, wouldn’t we?

Absolutely. I was parish priest, and I know that sometimes when people say there is a second collection, there is a kind of collective groan! And I know right now that things are not easy for people. Supporting our families, putting fuel in our cars, putting food on our tables – these are really tough times for all of us. I know some people may feel like they can’t give anything right now – and that’s fine, actually.

The first thing is to pray for this work, to pray for the work that we do, to pray for our bishops in their work of evangelization in all these areas and their ministry, which we here at the Secretariat try to support as best we can. that we can box. And if you can donate something to the second fundraiser, do so and rest assured that the money you donate – no matter how big or small – directly supports this work. It does not get lost in the ether. This money goes into a specific pot, which is for the mission and Evangelii Gaudium work. We will use the money you give so generously to support those of us who work within the Episcopal Conference, dioceses and alongside bishops.


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