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New wave of evangelization gains momentum with technology.

PITTSBURGH - A new wave of evangelization, it seems, is gaining momentum in this age of modern technology, bearing scores of videos, cassette tapes and reprints of Catholic church teachings in its technological tide.

The Apostolate for Family Consecration's first conference here, Oct. 22-24. drew about 2,500 lay Catholics from 30 states, Canada and Australia. The conference aimed to show how modern technology can be used for evangelization.

A new easy-to-read and -use catechism and video and cassette-tape discussions of the faith were among the "tools" promoted during the conference.

"We must use those things God puts at our disposal," said Msgr. Roger Foys, vicar general of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, where the apostolate has its headquarters.

The conference host, Pittsburgh's convention center, took on a new look for the event. A large banner with the conference title, "Totus Tuus - Consecrate Them in Truth," was displayed over a bank of escalators and on a neon billboard outside. Fold-up chair confessionals and a chapel of perpetual adoration drew frequent users.

Inside the hall, banners of Jesus and Mary drew attention alongside giant movie screens, electronic music instruments and television monitors that flicked constantly with videos of the pope, Mother Teresa, cheering youths in Denver and many others.

"Video, video, video," Mother Teresa once told apostolate founder Jeny Coniker, urging him to use modern means to get Catholics praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. "This is the only way to stop abortion in America," she said.

Coniker, who said he was reluctant to follow suit at first, has since had a change of heart. Today the apostolate offers 54 "Be Not Afraid Holy Hours" videos that are used weekly in more than 100 U.S. dioceses, Coniker said.

The conference participants, the majority of whom were lay Catholics, were told that they were the new evangelizers. There was a substantial number of families with young children in attendance, a fact noted by Papal Pro-Nuncio Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, who won the group's 1993 Pope John Paul II Family Fidelity Award.

Among the key speakers were Bishops Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh and Gilbert Sheldon of Steubenville, Msgr. Luciano Guerra, rector of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and and John Woolsey of the New York archdiocese's Family Life Office.

But the man who drew the most attention and accolades from the crowd was Nigeria's charismatic Cardinal Francis Arinze, the director of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and a man whose name often pops up as a candidate for pope. Arinze gave four talks and presided at one of three liturgies.

In each address, he plugged what he called the three "tools of evangelism" that can transform the church: the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, the recently released papal encychcal Veritatis Splendor and the apostolate's Family Catechism, which was premiered and promoted here. The 896-page Family Catechism, arranged in 304 questions and answers and cross-referenced with the new church catechism, includes prayers, illustrations and papal and Vatican II documents.

"The time has come for an all-out evangelization of the family, the fundamental cell for both church and society," Arinze said.

The conference opened on the anniversary of John Paul's 15th year as pope. It was initially designed to welcome the long-awaited English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has been delayed because of concerns about "inclusive language," Arinze said. As for its current status, he said, "It's being polished."

The English translation is not expected to be completed before year's end. The apostolate, one of its 12 copublishers, took orders for it anyway. (Copies of the new encyclical proved a popular item, selling for $2 each.)

Arinze said the time was right - 430 years after Trent - for a new catechism, which he said should be used as a helpful guide for families.

The family was emphasized as the most effective tool for evangelization. "Every family has a share in a mission of evangelization," said Arinze. "The family, like the church, ought to be a place from where the gospel is transmitted and from which God radiates."
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Author:Lefevere, Patricia
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Nov 5, 1993
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