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Parish Cells

The parish cell system of evangelization is a feature of life in many Catholic parishes throughout the world. It is particularly evident in parishes throughout America, Italy, and France, and exists in countries as diverse as Uganda, China, and Colombia. At its core, as its name implies, it is a system or strategy, which intends the evangelization of a parish by inspiring and forming parishioners to commit to evangelization. Through a very simple process, lives are changed; miracles happen; and parishes are transformed.

John Paul II promoted New Evangelization. He recognized that large elements f the culture today, especially in the western world, have lost their Christian roots. He also saw that great numbers of Catholic people no longer live out their baptismal calling. These situations, he claimed, mean that a new evangelizing commitment is called for on the part of every baptised person. For him, such evangelization must, in his words, be characterized by “a newness of ardour, method and expression”.

For participants, the parish cell system is a good example of New Evangelization. For them, cell communities inspire “new ardour”, guiding them to a personal engagement with Jesus Christ who gives new life. Prayer, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the scriptures, take on new vitality. This experience inspires “new methods” as a “private faith of God and me” gives way to a missionary faith that seeks to be shared with other people, especially in one-to-one relationships (oikos). It also leads to a “newness of expression” and is visible as small communities, while participants commit to being an evangelizing presence and community within the parish.

The parish cell system reveal amazing potential. An increasing number of small faith communities means that it contributes towards a parish becoming a community of communities. It facilitates elements that the church had at its beginnings, for example, relationships, community, spontaneity in worship, and sense for the immanence of God. A cell community provides a natural “home” for young people with their energy, creativity, and their wish to belong and to explore together the meaning of life. 

--Fr. Michael Hurley, taken from "The Heart and Spirit of Cell Leadership".

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