The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation hosted a 3-day conference at the Vatican, bringing together 2,000 people from 60 countries to reflect upon the central themes of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in the context of the pastoral renewal of the Church.
Archbishop Rino Fischichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, hosted the conference and also celebrated Mass for all the delegates in St Peter’s Basilica on the Friday morning. Among the many inspiring speakers, was Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community, which offers help to people with intellectual disabilities.
A highlight of the conference was an audience with Pope Francis who declared that Evangelii Gaudium has 'programmatic meaning and important consequences' because 'it is about the main mission of the Church, that of evangelising! There are times, however, when this mission becomes more urgent and our responsibility needs to be revived.'
Eighteen members of the Alpha - Catholic Context global team, from Australia, Austria, Canada, Columbia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Singapore and the UK had the privilege of attending the event and spent time meeting and exchanging with many others from around the world who share a passion for evangelisation.
Josh Canning, Coordinator for Alpha in the Catholic Church in Canada, said of the conference:
'It was great to spend so much time listening to talks and discussing Evangelii Gaudium. One of the messages that was clearest to me was that Pope Francis intended it to be a "programmatic" document, a document which is meant to inspire action and should have concrete expressions in the Church's ministry. To me, a very clear expression of what Evangelii Gaudium asks for is Alpha.'
The Pope concluded his address by encouraging all the delegates and asking them to pray for him:
'Amid the difficulties and disappointments that are not uncommon in our pastoral work, our trust in the Lord and in prayer that sustains it should never fail. Let us not forget, however, that we receive help in the first place from those we approach and support. Let us do good without expecting a reward. Let us sow and bear witness. Bearing witness is the start of evangelisation that touches the heart and transforms it. '