3/4/2013 3:11:00 PM Oregon monk influential in thought on New Evangelization
Photo courtesy of Fr. Jeremy Driscoll
Father Jeremy Driscoll stands in St. Peter's Square as it empties out after the 50th anniversary Mass of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
The newly-named Archbishop of Portland is hoping to enliven the New Evangelization in western Oregon. The next pope is likely to be strongly influenced by the movement, which seeks to re-propose the gospel to those who have experienced a crisis in faith.
The New Evangelization calls each Catholic to deepen his or her own faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel in new places and new ways.
The New Evangelization was the topic of a Synod of bishops in Rome last fall. Playing a part was Benedictine Father Jeremy Driscoll, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey who teaches half the year at Sant'Anselmo, the Benedictine College in Rome.
He was an expert advisor to the Synod.
Father Jeremy was recently appointed a theological consultant for the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, a new department of the Vatican.
Along with other priests among the team, he concelebrated the opening Mass of the Synod with Pope Benedict. The next day, the work began with more than 250 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, plus 45 advisors and 50 auditors, plus 20 heads of religious orders.
"There was great energy in the room," Father Jeremy reported in his journal, which Mount Angel published online. His duty was to listen to the many talks on pastoral concerns — mornings and afternoons — to detect anything that touches on liturgy. He then wrote up a report that would have a role in synod conclusions.
Father Jeremy attended meetings that included representatives from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the U.S. For one meal, he sat at a table with bishops from Sudan, Indonesia, Liberia, Ireland, Tanzania, Scotland, and three other experts, two from the Philippines and one from China.
"Everywhere the experience of the Catholicity of the Church is very tangible," he reported.
A Mass celebrated on the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council included wording and chant composed with the theme of the New Evangelization. The Mass was in Latin, but the English used in the booklet was from Father Jeremy's translation.
Later, he stood in St. Peter Square with 20,000 people holding candles and prayerfully thanking God for Vatican II.
At a session to help organize information from the many talks, Father Jeremy was able to influence propositions that put the mystery of the Trinity and our share in it as the fundamental content of New Evangelization. He also urged that the Synod conclusions stress the "absolute novelty" of the incarnation and resurrection as the distinctive message of Christianity, "a message never to be exhausted and amazing to any and all who hear it with open hearts."
During the Synod, Father Jeremy gave an interview to Vatican Radio, sounding the idea that the Church must re-proclaim the earthshaking nature of Christianity.
"We need to renew a sense of the central content of Christian faith, which is absolutely enthralling," Father Jeremy said. "People aren't seeing that. There are too many other issues, too many vague notions about God floating around."
The offer of Christ risen will bring hope, especially to young people, he said, arguing that the church must go to where people feel pain and doubt.
"People aren't happy in their lives," Father Jeremy explained. "They aren't happy in their cynicism. People are searching. They need this offer."