2015 Preaching Conference
“‘What We Have Seen and Heard’: Fostering Baptismal Witness in the World”
June 22-24, 2015
A Conference in Celebration of the 50th Anniversaries of Gaudium et Spes, Apostolicam Actuositatem and Ad Gentes
About the Conference:
All forms of Christian preaching are ultimately grounded in baptism, the sacrament by which we are called into the Christian life and sent into the world as witness-servants. The Second Vatican Council emphasized that for most of the baptized this witness will take place facing the world and immersed in the world. Service and mission go hand-in-hand with verbal witness to the living presence of God.
The laity are called to participate actively in the entire life of the church; not only are they to animate the world with the spirit of Christianity, they are to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the human community.[Gaudium et Spes #43]
The church on earth is by its very nature missionary.... All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of the word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new person which they put on in baptism.... [Ad Gentes #2, 11]
The renewal of baptismal witness in and to the secular world remains the largest challenge of Vatican II. There have been a number of positive developments on this front, and these deserve to be celebrated and better known. The renewal of preaching in the Church will be greatly enhanced by the strengthening of a broad ecclesial “culture of witness” flowing from baptism. Pope Francis has made clear his own interest in this subject and in stimulating the Church’s witness to the “joy of the gospel.” The 50 anniversary of the close of the Council invites a reconsideration and re-energized focus on the mission shared by all the baptized.
In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization.... The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.... [Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #120]