Members of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s new Office of Evangelization and Catechesis include (from left) Margaret Rhody, Rachel Uchytil, Mia Marcotte, Gary Pokorny, Tori Franke, Micah Pfundstein and Pete Burds. Not pictured are Emily Burds, Jennifer Murphy and Doug Ulaszek. (Submitted photo)

To better align the ministerial efforts of the Offices of Evangelization, Catechesis, and Marriage and Family Life, the three offices are now operating as one office team: the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

According to Director of Evangelization and Catechesis Peter Burds, the shift will help them better support parishes as they continue offering various ministries, workshops and training.

The change happened because Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki reinforced this shift through his January 2021 Theological Reflection, The Gift of Sunday.

“Since then, there has been a lot of excitement in the Archdiocesan central offices around aligning our previous ‘St. John Paul II Office for the New Evangelization’ around The Gift of Sunday and the Archdiocesan Synod priority of ‘Evangelization and the Sunday Mass,’” Burds said. “Our Office has been ‘handed the football’ to implement this priority into everything we do.”

Due to the pandemic, the three offices worked more closely together and became more aligned in their approach to ministry. As they spent more time together during the past two years, those in the offices experienced a greater desire to combine efforts and realized they were growing together.

In their planning this year, Burds said it came to the forefront how much parents participate within the Church’s ministry. He also noted that evangelization work pivots on supporting marriages and families as parents become Catholic disciples and serve as the primary catechists for their children.

“We came to discover more and more that at every life touchpoint, parental involvement is paramount,” he said. “Many people have also noted that this COVID-19 moment is ‘the rise of the domestic church,’ due to the ‘at home’ nature of lockdowns, virtual-at-home learning and the like. We saw these elements as a great opportunity to think about what we do differently.”

After prayer, discernment and discussion, the St. John Paul II Office for the New Evangelization transitioned from the Offices of Evangelization, Catechesis, and Marriage and Family Life to better align their efforts around the shared mission of proclaiming Christ and making disciples. Burds explained that operating as one office team will help them reach more parishes and individuals.

Some of the programs and services offered through the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis include support for parish leaders, Parish Discipleship Ministry, Galileeu, retreats, conferences, fellowship support, sacramental preparation and catechist formation. They also consult for parish staff, offer parish programming and curriculum, and provide Natural Family Planning resources and training. The office serves as a liaison to Catholic Scouting, National Catholic Partnership on Disability, youth disciples and Mareda, the association of parish catechetical leaders.

Additionally, the office provides support for Totus Tuus and Love Begins Here which is a local missionary work opportunity for teens and developing teen leadership. There are opportunities for college students and young adults through Brew City Catholic, the UW-Milwaukee Newman Center, UW-Whitewater Catholic Ministry Center and other college student mission groups and other resources.

“Our main priority is to assist our local Church in forming disciples with a heart for the Eucharist, a priority inspired by the 2014 Archdiocesan Synod and Archbishop Listecki’s recent pastoral letter, The Gift of Sunday,” Burds said. “We will also be integrating the upbuilding of the ‘domestic church’ into everything we do. We believe that the work of evangelization hinges on supporting marriages and families, where parents fruitfully live as Catholic disciples serving as the primary catechists of their children.”