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Parish in historic church pioneers Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos

A parish that is housed in an historic 166-year-old church in New Jersey is among the first parishes to enroll in Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos, a new resource from RENEW International.

The congregation, comprising English- and Spanish-speaking parishioners, worships at St. Patrick Pro-Cathedral in Newark; the church was dedicated in 1850 and soon became the cathedral when the Holy See created the Diocese of Newark, which included all of New Jersey.

The pastor, Fr. Bismark Chau, enrolled his parish in Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos as part of a lead group beginning the process this spring. The process is designed to provide formation and practical guidance to help each parish become, in the words of Pope Francis, “a center of constant missionary outreach.”

Before Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos, St. Patrick’s had not offered adult faith-formation opportunities. Fr. Chau said sensed the hunger of the people to deepen their faith. He invited ministry leaders—such as liturgical ministers, members of devotional groups, and interested parishioners—to take this journey together. Over the past several months, they have begun meeting to focus on key areas that matter for parish evangelization, presented in a series of learning videos.

To foster a sense of unity, the English- and Spanish-speaking teams open and close their meetings together with bilingual prayer and sharing experiences. In the middle of the sessions, they view the videos and discuss the topics in their native languages. So far, people have responded positively and are grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow.

Fr. Chau sees the potential blessings of Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos in two ways. First, he dreams of the parish becoming a community of evangelizers who will confidently reach out to others. Second, in a parish with few paid staff people, he also hopes to engage the lay people to take ownership of this vision of discipleship that is Christ’s mission. “Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos can be the spark to inspire our community,” Fr. Chau said.

Fr. Chau not only leads the program in his parish, but he is also featured in a Spanish learning module video that is part of the program: El Domingo Cuenta. El dia más evangelizador de la semana (Sunday Matters: The Most Evangelizing Day of the Week).

To learn more about bringing Be My Witness/Sean mis testigos to your parish, please visit bemywitness.org or email ministrye@renewintl.org.


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