The Ascension of Jesus as He delivers the Great Commission
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
We at the Basilica of St. Lawrence are answering a call to action that comes from the highest echelons of our faith; to reach out to the unchurched, to those who do not know the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a call that has gone out to all the faithful, laity and clergy alike. Not one of us is exempt from this call to action. Whether we reach out through the simple ministry of exhibiting our faith in our daily lives or in the more demonstrative ministries of preaching and teaching, it is the joyful responsibility of all who have received the grace of faith and hope to reach out those who have yet to hear the Gospel.
The Meaning of Evangelization
The Catholic Church on Evangelization
...evangelizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel itself. At its essence are the proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ and the response of a person in faith, which are both works of the Spirit of God. Go And Make Disciples #10
“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Deus Caritas Est
The Call To Action
It is the duty of the Church to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He, the first and supreme evangelizer, commanded the Apostles on the day of his Ascension to the Father: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Faithful to this mandate, the Church.. has never tired of making known to the whole world the beauty of the Gospel as she preaches Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the same “yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8). Hence the mission of evangelization, a continuation of the work desired by the Lord Jesus, is necessary for the Church: it cannot be overlooked; it is an expression of her very nature. (from Ubicumque et semper; a letter of Pope Benedict XVI)
Thanks to an apostolic action rooted in the Gospel and open to the challenges of society, you can contribute to spreading throughout America that much desired civilization of love, which places much value on the primacy of man and the promotion of human dignity in all its dimensions, starting from the spiritual dimension. (A New Evangelization)
On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all throughout the whole world to hear and accept the divine message of salvation. (Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People; Chapter 1 #3)
The Challenge We Face
In the course of history, this mission has taken on new forms and employed new strategies according to different places, situations, and historical periods. In our own time, it has been particularly challenged by an abandonment of the faith—a phenomenon progressively more manifest in societies and cultures which for centuries seemed to be permeated by the Gospel. The social changes we have witnessed in recent decades have a long and complex history, and they have profoundly altered our way of looking at the world. We need only think of the many advances in science and technology, the expanding possibilities with regard to life and individual freedom, the profound changes in the economic sphere, and the mixing of races and cultures caused by global-scale migration and an increasing interdependence of peoples. All of this has not been without consequences on the religious dimension of human life as well.
With foresight, the Servant of God Paul VI noted that the task of evangelization, “as a result of the frequent situations of dechristianization in our day, also proves equally necessary for innumerable people who have been baptized but who live quite outside Christian life, for simple people who have a certain faith but an imperfect knowledge of the foundations of that faith, for intellectuals who feel the need to know Jesus Christ in a light different from the instruction they received as children, and for many others” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 52). (from Ubicumque et semper; a letter of Pope Benedict XVI)
In achieving all this, the laity, that is Christians who have been incorporated into Christ and live in the world, are of primary importance and worthy of special care. (Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Chapter II #15)