New evangelization + new media = new hire
By Julie Filby
While the Gospel message is timeless, methods used to deliver it evolve. With that in mind, the Denver Archdiocese has created a new leadership position within the chancery offices to help unify efforts to promote the new evangelization.
On Jan. 28, Greg Willits started as Director of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries, where he will oversee three existing offices: Evangelization and Catechesis; Marriage and Family Life; and Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry.
“Over recent years, we’ve become aware of the fact that although we sit on the grounds of the (John Paul II) Center for the New Evangelization, we might not always have been using the concept to the best of our ability,” explained Msgr. Thomas Fryar, V.G., moderator of the curia. “We thought perhaps we need to call on the resources of those who are using some of the newer models of media and communication to help convey the Gospel story.”
Willits, and wife Jennifer, have been leaders in new evangelization and new media as founders of New Evangelizers, an apostolate that helps Catholics know, live and share their faith more effectively. Some of their ministries include the Rosary Army dedicated to making and distributing rosaries; “The Catholics Next Door” radio show and podcast; and “That Catholic Show,” a series of DVDs that explain tenets of the faith with humor. These ministries will continue with Jennifer Willits as executive director.
“I have a love for looking for new ways to share the good news,” Greg Willits told the Denver Catholic Register March 6 from his office on the campus of the John Paul II Center. “With technology today, there are so many ways of developing incredible resources that anyone can access whether they’re tech savvy or not.”
Prior to entering full-time ministry, Willits, 42, worked in information technology for 10 years.
“More than anything,” he continued, “I hope this office can help fan the flames of new evangelization, particularly in areas related to family. … There is a great opportunity right now for all of us to dive more deeply into our faith and share that with our spouses, children and friends.”
Books by Greg Willits
“The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living,” Servant Books, 2012, by Greg and Jennifer Willits, available at www.amazon.com
“The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid,” Servant Books, to be released May 28, 2013, pre-order at www.amazon.com
The couple—in the process of moving to Denver from Atlanta—has five children, ranging from 4 to 15.
“We’re not starting with somebody that just has theory, as much as somebody who has lived the experience,” said Msgr. Fryar. “We’re looking for Greg to help us, especially in supporting, encouraging and promoting Catholic ideas about family. He and his wife have manifested that in the nature of their family, and in regards to their (apostolates).
“They’ve been very much about what we’re looking to have happen here.”
While the family is giving up a lot to move to Denver, Willits said, it was obvious God was leading them here.
“The Archdiocese of Denver is incredibly blessed with so many faithful people and an amazing number of local Catholic organizations,” he said. “I firmly believe, while already fervently involved in the new evangelization (the archdiocese) is really just starting.
“With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we all have the potential to do amazing things for Christ and his Church.”
During the first few months, Willits will meet with as many parish leaders as possible to get a better understanding of how they can be more successful on a local level.
“I want to hear what people want that would help them to know, live and share their faith more effectively and productively,” he said.
Msgr. Fryar anticipates hearing Willits’ ideas and plans following his assessment.
“I think he will have an awful lot to challenge us on,” Msgr. Fryar said. “No doubt he will have some dynamic ideas that will help to move us forward.”
What is the new evangelization?
“The new evangelization boils down to knowing your faith, living your faith, and sharing your faith. (It’s) not just about head knowledge, or showing up to Mass, or working in a soup kitchen. It’s all those things and more, with Christ truly at the center of our lives. It’s an opportunity for us to acknowledge that each of us can know our faith better, and that’s OK, but today’s the day I’ll start to actually do things to increase my knowledge.”