Catholics from around the region reflected Sunday on 12 months meant to help them deepen their faith so they can better invite the world to consider Jesus.
St. Mary Cathedral was full for a Mass that closed the Year of Faith and marked the Feast of Christ the King.
Archbishop Alexander Sample had a straightforward message: Jesus is at the heart of our faith.
"He is everything," the archbishop said. "Our faith begins with a person."
The Year of Faith was begun by Pope Benedict and continued by Pope Francis. In Oregon, the period included a new Catholic spiritual leader who continued his predecessor's focus on inviting others to faith.
"Let us set about now in the work of the New Evangelization," Archbishop Sample told worshipers Sunday. "Let us not forget who it is we proclaim and let us not forget the message of salvation that we proclaim."
The New Evangelization, a term coined by Pope John Paul and carried forward by Pope Benedict, calls on Catholics to re-propose Jesus to the world.
Archbishop Sample told the congregation he wants the church to connect with Oregonians who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious." He said the church's message to such people should be undaunted: The longing you feel can only be fulfilled by God, whom we know through Jesus.
Nothing else can be a replacement, the archbishop explained — not creation spirituality and not even simply performing good works. "Anything that would reduce the church just to another NGO doing works of mercy, anything that would substititue for the Good News of Jesus Christ, takes us away from the truth," he said.
"Jesus must once again be the center of our hearts and lives," Archbishop Sample reminded listeners. "He once again must be the center of our proclamation of the Good News."
The Good News, he concluded, is that Jesus can repair the separation that sin left between us and God, restoring us to eternal life.
"We must not lose sight of that," the archbishop said.
The Mass closed with a special blessing that brought a plenary indulgence for worshipers who had confessed their sins and received Communion.