By Tony DeGol
When it comes to evangelization, there is never an ending.
“With evangelization, we always speak of God creating and recreating something new in our midst, rediscovering, and always becoming disciples of the Church – on the move with the Gospel message,” stated Sister Linda LaMagna, CCW.
Sister’s words echoed through a crowd of hundreds at the beautiful Our Lady of the Alleghenies Shrine in Loretto on the evening of June 6 – a warm and beautiful early summer night.
That setting, as Sister Linda reminded, is where evangelization took its first steps in Altoona-Johnstown with the feet of the Prince-Priest and Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin.
As part of the weekly outdoor Summer Mass at the Shrine, the faithful gathered to mark the conclusion of the diocesan renewal initiative ARISE Together in Christ. Bishop Mark celebrated the Liturgy, which occurred on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
“Our mission as disciples of Jesus does not end with ARISE,” insisted Sister, who served as the Altoona-Johnstown ARISE coordinator and is also the overall coordinator of Evangelization in the diocese. “It calls forth a new beginning in all of us to extend Christ’s reign, to give new birth to the great work of Jesus, and to continue to open your lives to new meaning and to new purpose. That extension, first, is to recognize that you are loved by God. You are His beloved.”
ARISE Together in Christ began in Altoona-Johnstown in 2018 and continued for five seasons. Parishioners from faith communities throughout the diocese gathered regularly during each season for small group faith sharing. Bonds of friendship were formed among the participants, and many put their faith into action through outreach and service to others.
“I’ve heard so many people talk about how ARISE provided a wonderful opportunity for them to hear the Scriptures through divine listening and the freedom to share their faith comfortably with others,” Sister Linda said.
Sister thanked Bishop Mark for bringing the renewal opportunity to the diocese, and the clergy for embracing it. She also acknowledged the support of coordinators, teams, small group leaders, and participants.
Along with the diocesan evangelization team, Sister Linda is working on a three year plan to continue the path to intentional discipleship among local Catholics.
“So there is no ending here this evening,” she insisted. “As we often say at funeral Masses: life is changed, but not ended.”
[Photo: Sister Linda LaMagna, CCW, diocesan coordinator of ARISE Together in Christ, speaks before the start of the June 6 outdoor Mass regarding the diocesan renewal initiative and the next steps for evangelization.]