Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Encountering Christ, others in the 99 program

Jan. 20, 2021

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – “The name of the program refers to lost sheep,” said Marika Donders, director of the diocesan Office of New Evangelization. “The good shepherd – Christ – leaves the 99 behind and goes out to find the one that’s lost. We’re trying to reach the people who see themselves as the 99. They’re there and they’re safe. And every one of us is sometimes the one that wanders away.”

The Office of New Evangelization is now offering “The 99 Experience” via Zoom. More than 60 participants from around our diocese, as well as some from the Diocese of Syracuse, will gather for three Tuesday night workshops.

“The program approaches the person in pew both from the idea that we’re all the lost one at some point and that they need to go find the lost one,” Donders said. “I liked the evangelization aspect, and I liked the process.”

The 99 process, Donders explained, involves three parts.

“There’s a Master Class,” she said. “That part teaches parish leaders to evangelize and how to think about evangelization. It’s things they may already know, but maybe haven’t put together. That part is meant to create leaders who could go do a parish mission for the average people in the pews – that’s the 99 Experience. That’s about ‘what’s my relationship with Christ and how am I living my life?’ For those that want to go deeper, there’s the 99 Handbook. It’s a synopsis of what our faith is all about. It’s good for use with small groups.”

Donders staged the Master Class in the fall.

“The 99 Experience we’re doing now was open to everyone,” she said. “With the Master Class, we wanted groups that would be connected to a parish. It becomes an evangelization team training. Then, the parish has people interested in evangelization. And the Master Class feeds the Experience. The hope is that people who participate in the Experience will then want to do the Master Class, creating evangelization groups.”

The Master Class focuses on equipping participants with the ability to talk about their faith.

“It encourages people to talk about their faith in a safe environment with other Catholics and put words to their faith,” Donders said. “There’s a quote people often attribute to St. Francis, though I doubt he actually said it, ‘spread the Gospel, and if necessary, use words,’ or something to that effect. It is necessary to use words. We need to teach people to talk about their faith and get the familiar with how to put words to this stuff. It’s hard to talk about faith, and we need to practice doing it.”

Some of the participants of that fall Master Class are currently assisting with the online offering of the 99 Experience.

“In the 99 Experience, each session includes videos that look at very specific pieces of the relationship between a person and Christ,” she said. “Right now, we’re doing a version that includes small-group discussion after the videos.”

Donders noted that if the program were used for a parish mission, small group discussion could be held, or participants could be given reflection questions for personal reflection.

In an in-person offering at a parish, the first night of the 99 Experience would include videos and discussion or reflection. The second session focuses on mercy and would typically end with adoration and confession. The third session includes a Mass.

“Since we’re online this time, we can’t do confession or a Mass, so we had to adapt the plans,” Donders said. “I’m hoping we can get the participants together at some point for a Mass.”

Participants in the 99 Master Class were also given the third portion of the program, the 99 Handbook, for further reflection.

Donders said one of her favorite aspects of the 99 program is that it fits well into an overall series of offerings from the New Evangelization office all meant “to allow people to talk about where they are now.”

“The 99 Master Class/99 Experience, Alpha and The Search are all similar in the sense that we want to get people talking about faith, sharing faith with others and growing their relationships with Christ, but they all address different starting points. Alpha is meant for people who are not practicing their faith or who are not familiar. The Search is for people in the pews. It looks at what we believe and why. The 99 Experience goes deeper. It’s for Catholics who want to learn to put their faith into words. The Master Class is more about how I invite others into it. And (all three programs) lead to encountering Christ where they’re at.”

Donders said she hopes to offer the 99 programs again in the future.

“We can run it repeatedly and get new people involved,” she said.

For more information about the 99 or any Office of New Evangelization program, please contact Marika Donders at the Office of the New Evangelization at mdonders@rcdony.org or 315-393-2920 or visit rcdony.org/evangelization.


North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.