Called to be Witnesses of Hope

Denise UtterBlog, NCCL Board of Directors

Written by Jackie Hopper, Board of Directors, NCCL Vice President

January 21st was the day life in the United States changed forever.  A man in his 30s was diagnosed with novel coronavirus.  From that point forward we have all had to adjust to shutdowns, furloughs, layoffs, and so much more.  When I look back on that day it was completely normal.  For me it became real on March 26h when my state shut down.   The shift to moving everything online was swift, certainly not flawless, but I admit I was amazed as to how we as Church responded to social distancing, Mass online, and faith formation delivered on various online platforms.  

NCCL’s Board of Directors has spent much of this Spring discussing Covid-19’s impact on our organization and our members. But I would propose that as an organization we had already begun to shift to a new normal. We knew as an organization we had to become nimbler to be able to respond to the changing landscape in the field of catechesis and evangelization.  We understood that this work would entail a new vision, a new model, and a new way of doing business.  

I have always pondered the role of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have a sign in my home that states, “Coincidences are God’s way of showing us everyday miracles.” I genuinely believe the Holy Spirit has been present in the decision making and the forward-looking vision of our organization.  I have said on numerous occasions in our board meetings that we are so blessed to be able to shift, revision, dream, and plan for a new future.  The Meitler process – our renewal and revisioning work with Meitler, a leading consultation group – will help us envision that new future. 

Witness, according to one dictionary definition, refers to “a person who sees an event take place.” But I like the biblical meaning of witness: “to profess Christ and to proclaim him.” In the wake of Covid-19, we need to take advantage of every opportunity to continue to profess Christ and to proclaim him in this new reality. Indeed, Covid-19 reinforced for NCCL’s Board something we already knew: that we need to immediately shift our vision to how NCCL supports its members, how we might support all the evangelization and catechetical ministers in the field (members or not), and how we might also advocate for these leaders who are surely critical to how the Church responds to this crisis now, and will be critical to keeping parishioners connected to their faith communities, and determining how the Church moves forward in uncertain times. They will be witnesses of hope and proclaimers of Good News. 

Witness, our upcoming virtual gathering, is a fruit of that revisioning, which is still ongoing. We believe it is a work of the Holy Spirit, as lived out in the good work of our Executive Director (Margaret Matijasevic) our Director of Mission Integration (Victoria Radleigh-Smith), and all our members. For much of the last year, NCCL’s Board, Staff, and leaders have called up the Holy Spirit for Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel and Fortitude. Our launch of Witness is one way we are seeking to cooperate with the Spirit.

Witness – this virtual gathering will remind us of our mission and equip us to be bearers of hope, healers of hearts, and companions in pain. Let us be a witness to the Good News that is Jesus Christ. This two-week virtual event will allow us to network, engage in professional development, pray, and explore resources for our ministries.  

I’m looking forward to the presentations at this virtual gathering, and I’m also looking forward to the time we will spend together at the coffee break with the board, or at the virtual cocktail hour in the lounge. We will be reminded of our mission and leave equipped to be those bearers of hope, to heal hearts and accompany those in pain.

The shift in our reality in the present has given us the opportunity to be mindful of our ministry and our call to witness Christ in the world for the future. I know the Holy Spirit is journeying with us.  I know that Christ feels our pain and is walking beside us as we embrace being disciples in this uncertain environment. Let us remember that we have each other and we have been called by God to witness to our world what it means to be Catholic catechists and evangelizers—leaders of faith – no matter what. 

The Board of NCCL continues to meet and dream of a vibrant organization that serves those who serve.  I look forward to seeing you online in May at Witness, and I pray for a time that we will gather in person.  Please keep the board and the organization in your prayers.  We need each other to be Church. Let us be companions on the journey and witness the Good News that is Jesus Christ. 

Come, Holy Spirit!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash