Lansing, Mich., Sep 25, 2018 / 04:49 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Lansing hosted a gathering of thousands Saturday, hoping to spark a fire for evangelization among Catholics in central Michigan. Nearly 25 percent of regular Mass-goers in the diocese attended the event.
Diocesan officials estimated that 14,000 people turned out Sept. 22 for “Made for Happiness,” a Eucharistic assembly held at the Breslin Center, on the campus of Michigan State University.
The diocese said its goal was to reinvigorate the joy of proclaiming the Christian message.
“We hope that it fires people up to go out and do that discipleship, to do that evangelization, to live out their faith in the daily life – in their work environment, in their social environment,” said Michael Diebold, Lansing’s diocesan spokesman.
“[We hope] that they can go out in their everyday life and spread that notion of being made for happiness, and bring people to the Church,” he told CNA.
Speakers included nationally-known Father Mike Schmitz, chaplain of the Newman Center at University of Minnesota-Duluth; Jennifer Fulwiler, Catholic author, speaker, and radio host; and Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing.
The assembly was preceded by a Eucharistic procession from St. Mary’s Cathedral to the Breslin Center, a few blocks from the state’s capitol building. More than 4,000 Catholics marched 3.5 miles, and some carried banners representing their parish or Catholic organization.
Diebold said the procession was a practical example of evangelization.
The procession was “this outward sign of all these thousands walking up what is essentially main street Lansing, Michigan. We wanted to be a public witness,” he said.
The bishop “thought it would be a great idea to provide a good witness to both the city of Lansing, capital of Michigan, and the surrounding area.”
Bishop Boyea asked diocesan parishes to cancel all Saturday evening Masses, to encourage parishioners to attend the Mass at the assembly. At the end of the Mass, the bishop called for a year of prayer directed at the proclamation of the Gospel.
This is the third assembly the diocese has hosted to focus on the new evangelization in the last six years. The first two only involved church officials or volunteers. This year’s gathering, Diebold said, was directed at encouraging all Catholics.
“Each of the speakers…were encouraging those that were in attendance to try and be more than just folks in the pews, to be more than just Church-going Catholics, but to become disciples, to become missionary disciples,” he said.
“The theme of the assembly was made for happiness, and that’s what we are hoping people will take away from there. That they can share with others who may not have heard of it or maybe have forgotten about it – the happiness that we can get from Jesus Christ by being a member of the Church.”