Today, the Catholic Apostolate Center and our Director, Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C., were honored with the Gaudium et Spes Award from the National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM) at an awards luncheon jointly hosted by NALM and National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL).
The award recognizes an outstanding individual or organization for promoting understanding of the Church in the world according to the vision of Vatican II. It is the highest honor that the association can bestow. Although the award has been given eighteen times since its inception in 1989, NALM has only recognized an individual and an organization together once before.
Fr. Frank and the Center were chosen for this award because of the extensive collaboration they engage in through his ministry as a Pallottine priest and the work of the Center. The Center was recognized for its ability to provide extensive resources to individuals and ministries so that many can revive faith, rekindle charity, and form apostles.
National Association for Lay Ministry
Gaudium et Spes Award
Catholic Apostolate Center
and Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C.
June 1, 2018
On behalf of the entire Catholic Apostolate Center team working on three continents, I wish to thank Deacon Keith Davis, his predecessor as Board Chair, Mark Erdosy, the National Association for Lay Ministry Board of Directors and the members of NALM for this Gaudium et Spes Award.
In recognizing the Center and me, you are also recognizing the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti. He believed that all are called to be apostles and created in Rome in 1835 a co-responsible and collaborative association of lay people, religious, and clergy called the Union of Catholic Apostolate; whose mission was and is to be what he called “an evangelical trumpet, perpetually calling everyone and awakening the zeal and charity of all the faithful” (OOCC I, 4-5). You are also recognizing my fellow members of the Immaculate Conception Province of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers, who as a Province have an almost seventy-year commitment to lay apostolate and after Vatican II to lay ministry as well, including founding the Catholic Apostolate Center in 2011 as an official ministry of the Province. Finally, and very importantly, you are recognizing the team of mostly young adults who comprise the staff of the Catholic Apostolate Center.
The Center, while not a young adult organization, is an organization that is open and welcoming to young adults. We provide accompaniment and mentorship and show how that can be done not only with peers, but with all in Church leadership. We welcome and utilize the creativity of young adults and provide leadership opportunities. All of this is also done in collaboration with many Church entities such as the USCCB, various national Catholic organizations, including all the sponsoring groups of this conference, dioceses, movements, and associations as well long-serving professionals in ministry.
We use collaborative and technological means to accomplish our mission to provide formative evangelization resources for active Catholics to help them become apostles or missionary disciples sent to assist others in encountering Jesus Christ and the Church. We develop greater collaboration and co-responsibility among Catholic leaders. We do this through living our vision that comes to us from St. Vincent Pallotti – reviving faith, rekindling charity, and forming apostles. Our hope is that our model of a Catholic organization, ever open to the initiative of the Holy Spirit, can assist others in moving beyond “We have always done it this way” (Evangelii Gaudium, 33), while at the same time keeping continuity with the tradition and teachings of the Church.
Again, many thanks to the National Association for Lay Ministry for this recognition. We promise to deepen our efforts to assist the Church in its “duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel” (Gaudium et Spes, 4).
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend (along with the Catholic Apostolate Center) the National Catholic Collegiate Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, I participated in a presentation on what it means to be an apostle and how we are called to be active witnesses in our faith.
The entire conference was aimed at young adults in college or who just graduated. I found it amazing how there were so many young people who wanted to take the time out of their lives and come out to participate actively in their faith. The presentation was typical of similar presentations aimed at young adults, it started off slow – difficult to get answers out of them – but as soon as the conversation started to flow, it became apparent to us giving the presentation that they were there for a reason.
We posed questions to them – tough ones to think about. What were the strength and weaknesses of their programs, did they need more prayer in their life, what does it mean to evangelize, where do they want to improve. It was clear that no one felt they were perfect and a lot of them knew that each issue was important, not just one over the other. Being a “young adult” myself these questions were just as important for me as they were for the participants. There was one answer to a question that stuck out for me.
I asked, what does “evangelization” mean? The responses were varied, but one in particular caught my attention. One of the participants said, “Inspire.” What a beautiful thought. We know that the term evangelize or evangelization hovers around the idea of conversion or spreading the good news. But when you truly think about the idea of evangelization, are we not trying to inspire people? Are we not trying to spread the word of God and the good works of the church? Those ideas in itself are inspiring. For that to be seen by someone my age and to be so courageously brought up in front of his peers was something that I had to take note of – I returned back to that idea at the end of the presentation.
Inspired myself by that young adult, I leave you with the three ideas that I left with the participants as I debriefed our presentation and activity:
1. You are not the future of the Church, you ARE the Church!
Young people hear so often that they are the future of the Church, that they must be willing to step up and be the leaders of the future. The simple fact is that they (you) are already the Church – the time is now to reach out and step up to help – to spread the good news, to evangelize.
2. Do more than just follow, tell people why you’re following.
It’s one thing to identify as a Catholic – we must have a deeper understanding of what it means. We must be ready to spread the word about our faith, to answer questions, and to help others understand and be inspired.
3. Be positive.
This to me is a key component of evangelization – of being an apostle. We must not be quick to point out when something is wrong, instead we must look for the good in things. We have an obligation to approach all our interactions in a positive and inspiring way, not to be dismissive or confrontational.
Chris Pierno is the Media & Marketing Manager for the Catholic Apostolate Center