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On the 7th of August 2014 a public lecture was held at St John Vianney Seminary. The topic of the presentation was “The Boundaries of the Church: Vatican II and its Implications for Evangelization.” The guest speaker was Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria. Thinky Mabaso opened the proceedings with a Prayer, after which the Academic Dean, Fr. Ricardo Smuts, welcomed and introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria. Dr Echeverria is a professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology and is a lecturer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary Graduate School of Theology in Chicago. Dr. Echeverria is the author of four published books and 19 Articles. We were delighted that Dr Echeverria was able to include SJV in his schedule while on his visit to South Africa.
In terms of the Title of his lecture, Dr. Echeverria reminded us that the duty of a Christian is to evangelize, to take the gospel to those who don’t know it, as well as to those who have drawn themselves away from the Gospel. The Church by its nature is called to evangelize, as outlined by the document of the Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes #2, “the Church by her very nature is missionary”. Pope Paul VI described the Church as an “Evangelical Institution”, and so we Catholics we are called to fulfill the mission of the Church to Evangelize the whole world.
The Church encourages us to engage in dialogue with other religious groups. In doing so, we ought not to allow our stereotypical mentality to judge others or to see ourselves as superior, and others as inferior. There has to be a relationship between evangelizing and inter-Religious dialogue, but inter-religious dialogue is sub-ordinate to Evangelization, for it is not its heart. Looking at the Primacy of Evangelization, most people think that evangelizing is “people going out to convert others”. They are correct, but evangelization is not only about going out to others. Evangelization has to be both inside and outside the Church, for Evangelization is a vocation proper to the Church. We have to start with our fellow brothers and sisters (for they may have been sacramentalized, but not yet evangelized) before we go out to evangelize other people as “Charity begins at Home.”
It was a good presentation that reminded many of us, (seminarians and priests) that our duty is to engage in dialogue with our fellow brothers outside the church, Christians and non-Christians, as Lumen Gentium states that there are many elements of grace found outside the walls of the Church. Sometimes we think that atheists do not know God, but if we look at the teachings of Aristotle and Plato, two of the greatest philosophers, we can see that while they were pagans, their teachings contain some good elements, elements that are attributed to God. In engaging with others, what is fundamental is to listen to those we want to evangelize, to understand their culture and background, and then to see how we can make the Gospel meaningful to them and how it can help transform their lives.
At the end of the presentation, David Houbert closed with a vote of thanks and prayer, whereafter Fr. Jerome Nyathi gave a final blessing.
By Tshepo Maseko – Philosophy 2 Student