Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Father Dave Dwyer spoke both June 21 in the English track at the 2014 Eucharistic Congress and at “Revive!” for young adults the night before.

College Park

Father Dwyer draws faith circles with ‘you’ at the center

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 27, 2014

COLLEGE PARK—Paulist Father Dave Dwyer drew a road map on how to be an engaged evangelist in a series of practical steps, from sponsoring an RCIA candidate to downloading a prayer app.

Father Dwyer has a foot in both the religious and the cultural worlds. Prior to his ordination, he directed television for MTV and Comedy Central. As part of his duties as a Paulist priest, he hosts radio programs on Sirius XM satellite radio—“The Busted Halo Show” and “Conversation With Cardinal Dolan,” a dialogue with New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

And in a nod to the South, the native New Yorker corrected himself a few times in his speech to the Eucharistic Congress participants when he said “you guys” instead of “y’all.”

Much of his talk in the English track of the congress about discipleship dissected papal documents into smaller morsels of wisdom people could adapt to their lives.

Father Dwyer said this outreach of “new evangelization” by the church cannot be left to “specialists,” but is a task for the whole community.

“All of us are called to go forth from our comfort zones,” he said.

This renewed effort isn’t simply to recruit people from other faiths, he said, but drawing back to the faith Catholics who have become distant.

It is meant to be a matter of faith lived daily, not just in special times or at special places, he said.

He outlined concentric circles of evangelism starting with the individual and then enlarging the circles to include the family, small faith groups, the church community, and finally those in the wider community.

The first step is making sure you are centered in the faith, he told the audience.

“If we don’t evangelize ourselves, we certainly can’t expect to be new evangelists,” he said. That means people should make time to pray, attending Mass. And if something isn’t working, experiment with a different form of spirituality. “We have to start with me,” he said.

Then people can begin to take steps to broaden the circle, growing from yourself and family spirituality to small faith communities and parish, to finally, the broader community, he said.

The family is the “first and primary place” to be an evangelist, he said, adding many parents ask how they can bring children back to the faith.

A key truth is joy will draw people more than guilt, he said.

“The beauty of the sacraments is it isn’t up to us. It is beyond us,” he said. “With joy, we are bringing people to Jesus,” he said.

It isn’t a fancy theology argument that will attract people, but “joyfully sharing the Lord with all the people in your life,” he said.