January 2, 2014 // Local

St. Bavo Parish captures zeal of New Evangelization

MISHAWAKA — St. Bavo Parish in Mishawaka held a fundraiser Dec. 14 for the Church in Uganda. For almost 10 years, the parish has given support — mainly financial — to various apostolic projects in Uganda.

The specific project being promoted Dec. 14 was providing scholarships for the education of Ugandan orphans. The gym was packed with parishioners, mostly younger couples for trivia night “for God and Uganda!” St. Bavo’s raised $5,000, enabling 40 Ugandan orphans to attend school for another term.

The evening began with an opening prayer led by St. Bavo’s pastor, Father Barry England, who asked the Lord to continue to bless the work of lay pastoral associate Gus Zuehlke, who helped organize the event.

Zuehlke gave a short witness to the work he had been doing, with the support of the parish, to help the Ugandan Church. It began with a retreat he gave to the Ugandan parliament and a visit to  the northern Uganda war zone, during which he came within earshot of the fighting. Through Zuehlke’s apostolate, St. Bavo has been implementing the “Church as field hospital” idea of Pope Francis, going to where the need is great.

“Bavo’s was a Church as field hospital before it was fashionable,” Zuehlke said.

“St. Bavo’s is also a church of what Pope Francis calls ‘encounter with Christ,’” Zuehlke said noting additional projects conforming to the New Evangelization. “For years, Christ Renews His Parish has been giving conversion retreats. Over 300 parishioners have participated. We also have sponsored youth retreats with our Antioch group. About 1,000 young persons have encountered Christ on these retreats. Gradually, we have moved on from the ‘pay, pray and obey’ consciousness of pre-Vatican II lay life to Vatican II’s ‘priest, prophet, king’ way of understanding and living the Gospel.”

“Our pastor, Father Barry, has provided wise and steady leadership in our efforts,” Zuehlke said. “He is a humble shepherd who introduces people to Christ and to one another. The ARISE program has also helped move things forward in the direction of the implementation of Vatican II.”

“Of course, all of this is done as part of the New Evangelization,” Zuehlke said. “We had been doing this sort of evangelization for years, and then the popes started talking about doing it. We felt on the one hand that this was confirmation of what we already were doing. And on the other hand it enabled us to go deeper in this direction. And we are excited about the future.”

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