Every baptized person has a mandate from Jesus to proclaim the love of God, but this requires prayer and friendship with the Holy Spirit, according to a priest who directs a program for parish evangelization. Don Pigi Perini, parish priest at St. Eustorgio in Milan, is the president of the international organization dedicated to parish evangelization [teams]....Father Perini is convinced that "when a priest really mobilizes himself, the faithful gladly follow him." ZENIT spoke with Father Perini about the upcoming seminar and how this evangelization method works. Here are excerpts from the interview.
ZENIT: What is the upcoming seminar about?
...Oikos evangelization consists in evangelizing those whom a person usually meets in his daily life: relatives, friends, coworkers, leisure colleagues, neighbors: They are the recipients of the proclamation of the love of God. This is why we can say that all are called to proclaim Jesus, not only consecrated, priests or missionaries, but all, animated by the strength of their baptism, they have received the great mandate of Jesus, to proclaim the love of God.
... Evangelization is first of all a commitment to prayer: that is why, in our community of St. Eustorgio, and I would say in almost all the communities in which the are present, there is Eucharistic adoration...The lay faithful must be educated, and perhaps also priests, to have close ties with the Holy Spirit, opening themselves to his action, at once discreet and powerful.
The cells of evangelization are geared to revitalizing the parish, which will then discover its true identity and foster the missionary vocation in all believers as Paul VI suggests in No. 14 of "Evangelii Nuntiandi": "Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize."...
Acknowledging this charge, the laity will be the ferment that will transform the face of the parish. But all this will not be possible if the priest, in turn, does not open himself definitively and firmly to what gives singularity to his priestly service, to what gives profound unity to the thousands of occupations to which he is called in the course of his life: to proclaim the Gospel of God and to form lay evangelizers. It is by being transformed into a living and evangelizing parish, that the parish's face will change.
ZENIT: In which countries do you find most followers of this different way of living parish life?
Father Perini: In France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, in the countries of Eastern Europe, etc. In a word, wherever the parish tends to fall asleep, the cells can represent an occasion to renew the priests and the lay faithful. Through perpetual adoration, the motivation of the pastor and this effort of evangelization, the exercise of evangelization by the members of the cell and the leader, the cells can produce this desired awakening that leads the parish to stop recognizing itself in the sleeping giant of which Cardinal Hume speaks.
ZENIT: In this seminar, will there be a day dedicated to the "priest of the new evangelization, I imagine in relation with the Year for Priests proclaimed by Benedict XVI. Please explain the importance of this day.
Father Perini: Indeed, during this 21st seminar, which will take place from May 26-30, the 27th will be dedicated to priests. This day owes its importance to the fact that the new evangelization will only be attained if, sustained by the Holy Spirit, it sees pastors commit themselves in the front line. It is a need that affects the whole world.