A Breath of Fresh Air
By Dr. Glenn Janus, Emeritus Professor of History, Coe College
In a conversation with a member of the Catholic Evangelization Outreach (CEO) Team back in 2012, I was asked what I thought of CEO. I responded that I believe that “CEO is a most welcome, refreshing and gentle breath of fresh air in the Catholic community here in Cedar Rapids!” I continue to stand by these words!
My initial and ongoing impression of CEO is that these are Catholic Christians who are positive, optimistic, hopeful and serious about their Catholic faith and confirm in words and actions that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in our Church and in our community! During these past three years, I have attended all but two of the monthly “Testimonies of Faith,” by speakers from all walks of life and all ages. As a Catholic, I am deeply moved and reassured by the witness of my fellow Catholics, whether these be through the testimonies of high school and college students or those of Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels and noted Rwandan Holocaust survivor and author, Immaculee Ilibagiza.
The works of CEO are indeed Christ centered and rooted in the Gospels, notably Matthew 28:19, where we find the words of Jesus to his disciples to go forth and preach the Gospel to all peoples in every place and time. This is what CEO is all about!
CEO, also, is a response to the call of the Second Vatican Council and the teaching of all of our Popes, from John XXIII and John Paul II to Pope Francis, for the laity to play a major and vital role in the evangelization of our increasingly secular society and to reach out to so many of our fellow Catholics who have drifted away from the faith. As a grassroots evangelization movement initiated and led by the laity, CEO realizes the highest expectations and hopes of Vatican II. In the words of Pope Francis, all those baptized are called to share the absolute and unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to be “missionary disciples.”
Finally, I appreciate the manner in which CEO insists that all discipleship and evangelization must be rooted in a deep and authentic sacramental spirituality and prayer life. I am grateful for the manner in which CEO not only encourages traditional Catholic forms of spirituality, such as Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary for example, but, also, fosters and advocates more recent forms of spiritual growth centering upon Bible study and lectio divina (Scripture as prayer), along with the rich spirituality fostered by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. There is an appreciation on the part of CEO for the spiritual riches of our Catholic faith.
May that Pentecostal breeze and fresh air of the Holy Spirit that comes through our Catholic Evangelization Outreach continue to be with us in the years ahead! May God Bless all your missionary discipleship efforts.
Catholic Evangelization Outreach is entering its fourth year, having its first witness talk on October 24, 2011