Tag Archives: new evangelization



WellWhen you shout into a well, the sound of your shout travels down the well and is reflected (echoes) off the surface of the water at the bottom of the well. If you measure the time it takes for the echo to return and if you know the speed of sound, you can calculate the depth of the well fairly accurately.


[See: DEAR DEBORAH, Page 2 – RCIA v1.2]


Echo is something you have experienced many times.  In nature, if you shout into a well or a canyon, the echo comes back a moment later.  But if you have not had the joy of hearing your voice come back to you across the hills, you most certainly have had the pleasure of hearing the voices of others enhanced by echos.

In music, the use of acoustic echo and reverberation effects dates back many hundreds of years. An echo chamber, a hollow enclosure used to produce reverberated sounds, is used regularly in modern recording studios. Medieval and Renaissance sacred music relied heavily on the composers’ extensive understanding and use of the complex natural reverberation and echoes inside churches and cathedrals.

Hamilton MausoleumOne of the most unexpected echo chambers was created in the construction of the Hamilton Mausoleum.

The interior has one of the longest-lasting echos of any building in the world, a phenomenon dramatically demonstrated to visitors by slamming the entrance doors.

Another curiosity of the interior architecture is the “Whispering Wa‘s” or walls. Two people can stand at either end of one of the curved interior walls, facing away from each other into the niche of the wall, and hold a Hamilton Domewhispered conversation. The remarkable acoustics of the walls project the sound to the listener at the other side.

Echos from  mountaintops and from inside cathedrals are delightful surprises.

Echos in music studios are required mechanics.

Echos in human relationships – well…they are either delightful or painful, depending on who sends the echo back to you.

And then there are the times when the well has no bottom and the echo never comes back.

My letter to Deborah was one of many attempts at shouting from the hilltop.

Cross FiligreeMy first thought was to reach out to the experts of evangelization on EWTN’s program, The Journey Home.  Calling their ministry, I reached one of their key people who quickly responded to my first complaint.  “That’s unconscionable, charging money for the class.  In my parish, we actually make gifts to class members…a Bible and rosary beads.  We bring catechisms to class for them to use.”  Encouraged, I asked him what I could do about it…who would set things right in my parish.

Cross FiligreeMy hopes were quickly dashed.  “RCIA is designed in each parish,” he said, “and it’s not the church’s responsibility to tell them how to run their program.  Wait a couple of years until you are inside the church and then see what you can do in your own parish to bring about change for the parish.  Or you can go to another parish.”  Not the echo I had hoped for.

Cross FiligreeI called the U.S. Council of Bishops, asking for the office that deals with RCIA curricula.  “That is handled in each parish.  Talk to your priest.  We don’t handle that here.”  An echo of disengagement.

Cross FiligreeI called the parish class leader of RCIA to ask about the fee of $60 for the class.  She said the fee was already part of the RCIA program when she came to the parish and had agreed to lead the class.  An uninformed echo.

Cross FiligreeI called the education office for the Diocese and asked for the priest I had heard on our local  radio station.  The receptionist said he would love to speak to me because they had been discussing improvements in educational programs.  I left a message.  Anticipation of an echo.

Cross FiligreeThe priest at the Diocese called me back.  “That’s not my role to tell parishes how to run their programs.”  No, he didn’t want to speak to me.  An echo of sour notes.

Cross FiligreeI let it rest…except for the letter sent to Deborah…and another short e-mail asking help from Wella University Professor host on EWTN who had recently been appointed by the Vatican to help direct efforts in the New Evangelization.  At least, neither Deborah nor the Professor sent me a disappointing echo.

They sent no echo at all.  My efforts had gone down a well with no bottom.



*Names have been changed.





Copyright, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

DEAR DEBORAH, Page 2 — RCIA v.1.2

[See DEAR DEBORAH, Page 1]

Writer Ink Well Scroll


Thanks, Deborah,

Thanks for your notes about RCIA.  I do think it is great to let parishes customize their programs.  The people leading the program I attended are well-intentioned.  But the bottom Fence Ironline is that their program is full of barriers for people just coming to faith in general or specifically exploring the Roman Catholic [RC] faith.  The largest number of attendees that night had a vested interest in becoming Catholic…principally in joining their spouse in the Catholic faith or coming back to the church with confession and reconciliation.

Hopefully, a full picture of the first class is conveyed from this list:

  • The RCIA class series (September to April) costs $60.  People were told they can pay all at one time or break it down in payments of $20 or so.
  • We were told we were required to purchase the Catholic Bible and the simplified United States Catholic Catechism for Adults [red cover], offered together by the church bookstore at $25 for both.
  • One woman inquired about the cost of the books:  could she use her King James Bible? [KJV]  She clearly didn’t have the money.
  • The leader did not accept the King James Bible and offered no guidance in helping the woman access the Deuterocanonical books from some other source to use in conjunction with her KJV.
  • No options were given [book cart or loaner for class reference] for people to use Bibles and Catechisms on loan for the RCIA program.
  • The RCIA program was outlined in a well-done syllabus.  But the syllabus and RCIA program were presented as you might expect for a military induction class or freshman college class Intro to Faith.  Emphasis was on meeting all the requirements so that you will be allowed to receive the sacraments seven months from now.  Leader pointed out that people from the previous class had “failed” and did not get to receive the sacraments.
  • The list of “requirements” was interesting.  Certainly, there were good ideas on the list.  But, again, the presentation focused on the requirements.  Example:  “You are required to choose a saint.  We’ll be talking about them later.  There are some books about saints.  You will have time to get familiar with a few of them in our classes.”  Many in the class expressed anxiety about this, not having a familiarity with the saints or who they might want to choose.
  • Again, similar anxiety was expressed when we were told we were “required” to have a sponsor for entry into the church.   The instructor moved on quickly, stating, “We’ll talk more about this later in the classes.”
  • One requirement is a 3-day Crusillo retreat on the schedule for a weekend in November.  The implication is that if you do not attend the retreat, you will have “failed” to “pass” the RCIA program.   There is an additional charge for the retreat.
  • The attendee questionnaire emphasized proof of baptism and marital history.  In class, our leader said that you must be married in the RC church in order to receive sacraments at Easter.  She was speaking quickly and might have been able to more fully explain this.  But as she left it, that would tell me (if I didn’t know better) that I would not be able to enter the church.

In general, as an example of The New Evangelization, this RCIA class would not Fencesencourage any fledgling Christian who needs more understanding of the RC faith.  Instead, it would reinforce every negative stereotype about Catholics…rules…regulations…fences and walls…buying our entry into the sacraments with class fees and “works”.

Fence White I know too many agnostics, atheists and lukewarm Protestants who would not come back to RCIA if this was their introduction to the Catholic faith.

My key question? What options exist in the Roman Catholic Church structure for constructing RCIA instruction, helping well-intentioned lay people who lead these classes to effectively meet and come alongside seekers and Protestants who are willing to explore the Catholic Church?

Hopefully, this suffices to lay out my most pressing questions.  I was hoping that you, as a former Protestant, seminary graduate, and classroom teacher, might resonate with my concerns.   My heart aches for people who need the RCIA program Bible Reading Girlto lead/instruct them as Paul taught…as babes able only to drink milk.

Meanwhile, Catholic leaders speak of the need for all Christians to live a life of ongoing  renewed conversion.  What is the boundary between the introduction to learning the Catholic faith and that of the lifelong learning and ongoing conversion  we all need to embrace Catholic doctrines?

Finally…RCIA, 7 months, and “requirements”…all of this before one is “permitted” to receive the sacraments…how does this comport with Acts 2:40-41:

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Jesus Sheep 3The first Pope preached one day and baptized 3000.  If he was able to sufficiently catechize them in 24 hours…what are we hoping to accomplish in effectively “withholding” the sacraments for seven months?

I say this all of this with the greatest love and respect for the Catholic Church and its people.  Hopefully, it is clearly communicated, even if you are not in agreement with my concerns.

I will welcome any words you offer.







Copyright, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.