BY HANNAH CRITES
“To be Catholic is to not only be embraced by the Gospel, but to long for others to be embraced by the Word as well,” said Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, on Oct.12. Hahn’s talk, “The New Evangelization and Franciscan University,” took place in Christ the King Chapel.
The New Evangelization is a movement that began after the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Pope Paul VI desired not only to evangelize people who had never met Christ before, but also to evangelize those who had fallen away from the Catholic faith.
Most Catholics saw it as a movement that would only last through the end of the 20th century, but Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI recognized that the New Evangelization is not a short-term strategy, but a long-term commitment.
According to Hahn, 30 percent of Americans raised Catholic are still practicing the faith. Thirty-eight percent have kept the label, but are no longer practicing. The remaining 32 percent either have left the faith to join other Christian denominations or consider themselves unaffiliated.
“The New Evangelization is not because the Church stopped evangelizing,” said Hahn, “The Church is always evangelizing and calling people to itself. The New Evangelization calls for the efforts of every believer and is intended to target those who have lost the faith.”
Hahn also said that there is no doubt that the Lord has placed a very special love for Franciscan University in its students and faculty, including himself. “I would gladly pay my salary to get the opportunity to teach here,” he said, “This is where people’s lives are changed. People come wounded and leave healers.”
It’s because of this love that Franciscan has played such an instrumental role in the New Evangelization. Every summer, the University hosts 18 high school conferences, with two in Canada and four on Franciscan’s main campus. These conferences have reached out to almost 40,000 teens since 1975. Of the priests ordained and women consecrated in the United States during 2012, 11 percent of those holy men and women attended a Franciscan Youth Conference.
What makes Franciscan so special? Hahn credited the University’s uniqueness to the relationship between the students and the Franciscan Friars on campus, the “sacramental love” between the University and the bishop of Steubenville, and how “hungry and willing” students are to learn. Also, it all ultimately revolves around the Mass, Hahn said.
“God has called you here not only to teach, but to change, not only to change, but to get together, get going, and set out in the world,” he said. “The sky’s the limit, the person is the goal.”
Hahn entered the Catholic Church in 1986 and has taught theology at Franciscan University since 1990. He has a doctorate in Biblical Theology and is the author of many books, including: “The Lamb’s Supper,” “Reasons to Believe,” “The Catholic Bible Dictionary,” and “Signs of Life.”