ST. FRANCIS –– At the start of Saturday’s evangelization summit, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki announced that Rich Harter, pastoral associate at St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield, has been chosen to head the newly established archdiocesan Office of Evangelization, effective July 1.

HarterRich HarterIn this position, which will be under the auspices of the John Paul II Center, Harter will coordinate what he termed “the ongoing vision and direction” of the archdiocese’s evangelization efforts. The summit was a preliminary step to the Year of Faith, which will run Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013. An archdiocesan synod is planned for 2014.

Part of his work will be as a resource for parishes and to train leaders in evangelization; he will also oversee Theology on Tap – the summer speaker series for young adults, be involved in adult faith formation and work with other directors of John Paul II Center programs.

Harter, 55, told your Catholic Herald May 7, that he is “totally on fire for the Catholic Church and the New Evangelization.”

“Catholics are poised, ready to experience a rebirth in the Spirit,” he said. “There’s a new commitment to be passionate and creative about.”

Harter, whose boyhood parish was St. Mary, Menomonee Falls, has been a lay ecclesial minister for 32 years. Other than an 18-month stint as a youth minister at a parish in Minnesota, all of his work has taken place in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

He taught theology at St. Joseph High School, Kenosha, and Pius XI High School, Milwaukee. For 15 years he was a pastoral associate at Good Shepherd Parish, Menomonee Falls, where his work included adult and family ministry, and human concerns. He also served as parish director at St. Mary Immaculate Conception Parish, West Bend, for two years. At St. Dominic Parish, he oversees administrative services and coordinates adult and family ministry.  

Harter holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., and a master’s degree in theological studies from Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, St. Francis.

Regional training sessions for those involved in evangelization will be held Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 at locations to be determined. Further information is available by calling (414) 769-3352 or emailing

He and his wife of nearly 32 years, Georgia, are the parents of Amy, a North Sheboygan High School English teacher, and Michael, who will begin doctoral studies in electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame this fall.

As he prepares for his new job, Harter is optimistic about evangelization, despite challenges, e.g., the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the church has faced.

“The faith and people’s commitment have not flagged. We will find a passion to coalesce around,” he said. “This is a beautiful moment in the church; our time is now.”