Starting an Apologetics ministry in my church


#1

So to prepare for our parish’s 75th Anniversary next year, we recently held a ministry fair to try and increase parishioner’s involvement. We wanted to advertise our existing ministries (Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Ushers, Knights of Columbus, etc) and try and generate interest in some of our new ministries (Outreach, Bereavement, etc).

Prior to the fair, I didn’t belong to any of the ministries and was not involved at all in the church. I ended up volunteering to help out at the concession stand and by the end of the fair, I had signed up for 7 different ministries (Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Usher, K of C, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Outreach, and Holy Name Society)

The center table at the fair had nothing on it except a suggestion box. People could fill out a slip and say what kind of ministries they would like to see started. So I suggested a Catholic Apologetics Ministry where people could learn how to explain and defend Catholic Faith and Doctrine.

A few weeks later I went to the first Outreach Program meeting, and both the Monsignor, Msgr. Thelen, and the coordinator, Fr. Colamaria, were in attendance. It turns out that earlier this year, The Brooklyn/Queens Diocese made every parish fill out a survey of needed ministries. The diocese compiled the results and released the top 10. The number one item on the list was Youth ministries, followed by Evangelization ministries, followed by Outreach programs (the last being the reason we started one in our church).

Fr. Colamaria briefly talked about the top 3, How our Youth Ministry is already doing very well, how they are working out how to start an evangelization ministry, and how the third item is the reason we were sitting there that evening. What caught my attention was how he mentioned that the evangelization ministry wouldn’t just focus on evangelizing non-Catholics, but would also focus on “Evangelizing from within”, helping to strengthen existing Catholics faiths. To me it sounded a lot like Apologetics.

So to make an already long story less long, after the outreach meeting, Msgr. Thelen, Fr. Colamaria and I discussed my suggestion and before I realized what I had gotten myself into, I was put in charge of the Apologetics Ministry. We aren’t going to start anything until January, but I will be in charge of everything; organizing discussion topics, getting people to come, scheduling the meetings, etc.

I’m very excited about this but I’m also really scared. I only started really understanding the Catholic faith about the same time I joined these forums (under qualified), and on top of that I’ve never been active in the church (no one knows me). I’m pretty much relying completely on the Holy Spirit to guide me in this new endeavor.

So wish me luck, and please keep my future ministry and me in your prayers!


#2

This is great, and my prayers for a successful ministry are with you. Do you know what format and resources you are going to use, or are you looking for suggestions?


#3

[quote=Fidelis]This is great, and my prayers for a successful ministry are with you. Do you know what format and resources you are going to use, or are you looking for suggestions?
[/quote]

How about these resourses?

www.thetheologyprogram.com

You could at least use Trinitarianism and Humanity and Sin. The others are fair and balanced as well.

Michael


#4

[quote=Fidelis]This is great, and my prayers for a successful ministry are with you. Do you know what format and resources you are going to use, or are you looking for suggestions?
[/quote]

I’m always open to suggestions, if you have any, but I figured I would start with some basics. I found the Beginning Apologetics series very helpful in answering alot of my own questions:

“Why does the Church teach _______? (fill in the blank)”

I’ll use that series along with the Catechism and the Bible. I have my NAB and a copy of the RSV:CE on order. I think those will be good resources to start. Maybe the EarlyChurch Fathers also.

As far as format goes, not sure yet. Fr.Colamaria and I are planning to start probably end of January, so any suggestions are welcome


#5

[quote=michaelp]How about these resourses?

www.thetheologyprogram.com

You could at least use Trinitarianism and Humanity and Sin. The others are fair and balanced as well.

Michael
[/quote]

Thanks Michael, but this isn’t going to be a theology course, it will be a parish ministry that will help parishoners better defend Catholic Faith and Doctrine. I’ll look into that program to see if I find anything useful for myself though.


#6

Sweet! I just talked to a local priest about starting the same kind of thing in the diocese of Arlington. He seemed responsive to it, and he’s going to have the religious studies director get back with me.

Keep us posted–I feel like I’m swimming against the tide right now, and any bits of advice from other people in the field would be helpful.

Cheers,
Chris


#7

For Christmas, ask for the following:

95 Catholic Verses by Dave Armstrong

Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating

Tract Set (120 tracts on a variety of subjects) available from Catholic Answers.

That is about $50 well spent. From these you will find topics that may really interest you, and they might become your first topics for discussion. Admit to yourself that the best way to learn something is to try and teach it.

You can branch out into role-playing, (two people each taking an opposing view), or just keep it simple with handouts, a short presentation and then discussion. If you are having fun, you are on the right track.

I will have my high school apologetics class include you in their prayers. God Bless


#8

My wife presented a beginning apologetics bible study for her women’s group which was very well recieved. We worked on it together and here’s the topics we covered:

Apologetics 101: What Do Catholics Believe and Why?

Week 1: Sola Scriptura? (The Bible Alone?)
Where did we get the Bible? What is the role of the Bible in the Church? What is Sacred Tradition?

Week 2: Salvation – How do we get to heaven?
Do Catholics really believe we can work our way to heaven? Can we lose our salvation?

Week 3: The Sacraments
What are sacraments? Why are they necessary? Why do we baptize infants? Why do we believe in the Eucharist?

Week 4: The Pope, the Bishops and the Magisterium
Where does the pope get his authority? Why do we have a church hierarchy? When does the pope speak infallibly? What exactly is “Church teaching?”

Week 5: Mary and the Marian Doctrines
Do Catholics worship Mary? Does she have a role in salvation? What about the Marian Doctrines (The Immaculate Conception, The Assumption) and Marian apparitions (Lourdes, Fatima, etc)?

Week 6: Communion of Saints
What do Catholics believe about the saints? Why do we pray to them?

Week 7: Tour of the Church/The Meaning of Catholic Practices
What is the meaning of the various items in the church? Why do we have statues, paintings, icons, holy water, incense, candles, etc? Why do we have a crucifix instead of just a cross?
Why do Catholics cross themselves? Why do they kneel, stand and sit at various times of the mass?
What are relics, scapulars and medals?

Week 8: The Last Things – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and the End Times
Do Catholics still believe in Purgatory? Why? What do we know about heaven and hell? What is “Limbo”? What do we believe about the end times?

In our experience, you cannot assume your audience, even lifelong Catholics, have any working knowledge of apologetics, the Scriptures, and an adult level knowledge of Catholic teaching. Be prepared to explain the basics.

You also might want to check this previous thread for more ideas:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=22558&highlight=apologetics+classes


#9

Michael: I was most unimpressed with the section on “Catholicism” that you linked to. While it was more charitable than many…it portrayed an ignorance of the Catholic Faith (as almost all apologetics aimed against the Church do). (Even to refer to the ascension of Mary…if they had studied Catholicism, before writing on it, they would have spoken on the asumption of Mary. Mary did not ascend, like Christ did; rather, Christ assumed her into heaven).


#10

[quote=twf]Michael: I was most unimpressed with the section on “Catholicism” that you linked to. While it was more charitable than many…it portrayed an ignorance of the Catholic Faith (as almost all apologetics aimed against the Church do). (Even to refer to the ascension of Mary…if they had studied Catholicism, before writing on it, they would have spoken on the asumption of Mary. Mary did not ascend, like Christ did; rather, Christ assumed her into heaven).
[/quote]

michaelp:

:tsktsk:


#11

[quote=twf]Michael: I was most unimpressed with the section on “Catholicism” that you linked to. While it was more charitable than many…it portrayed an ignorance of the Catholic Faith (as almost all apologetics aimed against the Church do). (Even to refer to the ascension of Mary…if they had studied Catholicism, before writing on it, they would have spoken on the asumption of Mary. Mary did not ascend, like Christ did; rather, Christ assumed her into heaven).
[/quote]

I did not link to a section on Catholicism. I linked to The Theology Program (www.thetheologyprogram.com). There may have been something on that site (which is not mine, it is just the host site) that you are referring to. I do not know what it was, but if you will provide me the link, I do have some influence with those at Bible.org and might be able to have it altered or even taken off. I don’t want anyone to be misrepresented.

Let me know exactly what it is that was misrepresented (of course, this does not include something that you might have just disagreed with, but you know that).

In Him,

Michael


#12

Had the first meeting of our Apologetics Ministry yesterday! It went fantastic!
We originally planned to have it in the rectory dining room, but when people started showing up, we realized we would need a larger space. We had so many people show up, we ended up having it in the Church hall. Final headcount was 34 people showed up :eek: (I expected maybe 8 or 9 people)

We started it off with a “pop quiz” icebreaker. I took 15 of the misconceptions from Karl Keating’s What Catholics Really Believe and handed them out in True/False format. The gag was that when people finished taking the quiz, I let them know that all 15 statements were false. That got laughs out of some people (and upset some others who insited that a statement was true :o ) One woman stormed out because she didn’t agree that a statement was false… I don’t think she’ll be back. The least she could have done was be receptive to why the statement was false, but she walked out before I could explain and she refused to listen when I tried. oh well, can’t win 'em all. :frowning:

I had a brief discussion explaining what apologetics is and handed out a sheet that explained apologetics and gave some points on becoming an apologist. I created the sheet from a combination of the Intro from Beginning Apologetics Vol. 1 and Bible Christian Society’s 2 minute apologetics.

Then a few people shared what they want to get out of coming and why they came. Many were just interested in undersanding their own Faith better, some are CCD teachers who get stumped by their students, but a few actually wanted to be better able to defend the Faith. One gentleman works with a man who is a deacon at a Baptist church. The deacon is always questioning him on why Catholics do certain things :rolleyes: (the typical pointed questions like “Why do you Catholics ‘worship’ Mary?”)

I then handed out a survey with 20 of the more typical Apologetics topics and asked people to rate their interest in the topics on a scale of 1-5. Topics included the Da Vinci Code, Bible Alone or Bible PLUS Tradition, Purgatory, Infant Baptism, Marian Doctrine, Early Church Fathers, and more. I took the survey to get a general idea of what people were interested in learning about.

We finished off by quickly explaining different Bible translations and let everybodyknow to have a copy of the NAB next time they come. We also suggested that they all have a copy of the Catechism.

All in all, a fantastic first meeting!


#13

Hi Rich,

That is great news!

If you don’t mind, I may drop in on one of your classes in the future. I “Yahoo’ed” your priest’s name and found your parish Web site. I guess the site is still under construction because only two of the pages are working.

Blessings to you and your new ministry,
Gene
Resurrection-Ascension, Queens


#14

Congratulations from a former Molloy Boy. :slight_smile:


#15

I was just about to post a thread asking how to get an apologetics ministry started in our parish! I talked to our Deacon about it, who thought it was a good idea, but we haven’t heard an answer back from our pastor yet.

The deacon’s concern was there wasn’t anyone knowledgeable enough to lead such an effort and he raised the following ideas:

He suggested we ‘start’ by placing a monthly apologetics Q&A in our bulletin, to see if it sparks interest. Does anyone know if there are any bulletin length (2-3 short paragraphs), apologetic q&a tracts available to purchase that we could re-print in our bulletin?

We also wondered if there was a parish, ‘small group’ apologetic program already written and publsihed that we could buy to help get some leaders trained and to give us some structure to the program. Does anyone know of anything like this?

Thank you!!!


#16

Wow. I’m totally jealous. :wink: I’m glad your deal went so well. I like the format. Sounds like you got some good teaching in AND you kept it light.

I also recently started an apologetics ministry at my church. Last Sunday was the fifth one, the first in a new series. It’s been going alright while I get my “teaching legs,” but I’m ready to put it in high-gear. We’ve had a few regulars, but the most we’ve ever had is about 14 folks. All of them were over 45, and 45 was the youngest.

So, I have a question: How did you get so many people? Advertising in the church bulletin isn’t very effective. People read them at home after Mass–sometimes–and they don’t see that the class was right after Mass. The priest is great, but he keeps forgetting to announce it at the end. Word of mouth is spreading, but we’re still just talking to a few folks at a time.

Any tips?

Thanks,
MM


#17

[quote=Gene C.]Hi Rich,

That is great news!

If you don’t mind, I may drop in on one of your classes in the future. I “Yahoo’ed” your priest’s name and found your parish Web site. I guess the site is still under construction because only two of the pages are working.

Blessings to you and your new ministry,
Gene
Resurrection-Ascension, Queens
[/quote]

Hi Gene,
I don’t mind at all, you are more than welcome to come! We are going to attempt a meeting every two weeks; next two meetings are scheduled for April 5th and 19th. Next meeting we plan on discussing Bible canon and the Church’s ‘extra’ OT books.

As for the web site, I don’t think anyone is even working on it anymore. If you look under events, it’s mentioning stuff from 2003. If I wasn’t so overwhelmed with other ministries, I would take on the website since web development is one of the things I do for a living.


#18

[quote=Maranatha]Congratulations from a former Molloy Boy. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Thanks from a Saint Francis Prep graduate :slight_smile:


#19

[quote=Elzee]The deacon’s concern was there wasn’t anyone knowledgeable enough to lead such an effort
[/quote]

The person leading the effort doesn’t have to be knowledgeable, just passionate. Tell your deacon to put his trust in the Holy Spirit to guide whoever leads the group. Trust me, I’m not knowledgeable enough, but I’m leading my group. (Check out what I said here at the end of the post).

If you want an Apologetics Group, then grab the bull by the horns, and ask the Deacon to let YOU run it.

He suggested we ‘start’ by placing a monthly apologetics Q&A in our bulletin, to see if it sparks interest. Does anyone know if there are any bulletin length (2-3 short paragraphs), apologetic q&a tracts available to purchase that we could re-print in our bulletin?

You can try asking John Martignoni if you can use his “Two Minute Apologtics” from his website, biblechristiansociety.com. send him an email, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you reprinting them. (Two Minute Apologetics section)

We also wondered if there was a parish, ‘small group’ apologetic program already written and publsihed that we could buy to help get some leaders trained and to give us some structure to the program. Does anyone know of anything like this?

Just try using the Beginning Apologetics Series to get you started.

Thank you!!!

Your Very Welcome!!!


#20

[quote=montanaman]So, I have a question: How did you get so many people? Advertising in the church bulletin isn’t very effective. People read them at home after Mass–sometimes–and they don’t see that the class was right after Mass. The priest is great, but he keeps forgetting to announce it at the end. Word of mouth is spreading, but we’re still just talking to a few folks at a time.

Any tips?

Thanks,
MM
[/quote]

Well, we had advertised in the Bulletin for the past 7 weeks, so people had plenty of notice. We also printed some flyers and posted them in the vestibules of the Church.

We also requested that people RSVP so we would know how many people we need to accomodate. I think RSVP’ing tends to psychlogically motivate people to show up. If they RSVP, they feel ar greater obligation to attend since they are being expected, as opposed to someone who can change their mind at the last moment since they have no obligation.

Maybe the wording in your bulletin advertisement isn’t catching people’s attention either. What does the advertisement say? I’ll post up our bulletin ad tonite when I get home from work, and we’ll compare wording.


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