Farewell to Year of Faith: It opened the door to deeper faith and a desire to share it Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Since October 11, 2012, the Catholic Church throughout the world has been observing a special Year of Faith. In his apostolic letter Porta Fidei (“The Door of Faith”), Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to experience a conversion — to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.

The pope noted that the “door of faith” is opened at Baptism, but during this Year of Faith Catholics were asked to open it again, to walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

The first day of the Year of Faith coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publishing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict asked Catholics to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism to deepen their knowledge of the faith.

In addition, the pope also pointed out that as Catholics deepen their own faith, they should have greater confidence in the Gospel message and have a willingness to share it. This is what is called the “New Evangelization.”

Papal transition

What was begun by Pope Benedict came to fruition with Pope Francis. Eight months after Pope Francis’ March 13 election, the number of visitors to the Vatican continues to be higher than usual, reports a Catholic News Service article. Most observers attribute the increasing crowds to Pope Francis’ easy rapport with people and his touching focus on children and the sick.

Pope Francis’ election during the Year of Faith can be seen as “providential,” said Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the Vatican’s New Evangelization Council. “The personality of Pope Francis, his closeness, his use of language that is simple and profound, his desire to go out and meet people, has captivated people’s hearts.

“The Holy Spirit knew what he was doing,” Archbishop Ruiz said. “He wanted to be sure that in the Year of Faith many people who had been far from the Church would hear an invitation to respond to the Lord,” and, from what bishops and pastors around the world are reporting, it seems to have worked, he said.

Don’t be lazy — share the faith

Both popes have insisted that being an authentic Christian isn’t simply about one’s private prayer life; it must be evident in the way a person interacts with others and with the world. In Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict warned Catholics not to “grow lazy in the faith.” He emphasized that “faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world.”

Pope Francis is certainly giving us a model to follow. He has prepared his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), which he will symbolically present at the closing Mass of the Year of Faith on Sunday, Nov. 24, to different people who represent various members of the Church.

Coverage in Catholic Herald

Throughout the Year of Faith, the Catholic Herald has helped people in our diocese enrich their faith each week. We have published articles about what is happening both in the Diocese of Madison and the universal Church. Bishop Robert C. Morlino has emphasized “Evangelization through Beauty” throughout the year in his homilies and columns, while special lectures and events have deepened the faith of people throughout the diocese.

We thank the many local writers who have contributed articles, especially Abbot Marcel Rooney, Dr. Patrick Gorman, Patrick Delaney, and other members of diocesan offices. We hope these articles have strengthened the faith of our readers. (If you missed any articles, you can find them on our website at

Although the Year of Faith is coming to an end, it should only be the beginning of the efforts of all Catholics to continue to deepen our faith and share it with others.