During the last seven months, Paulist Father John Hurley served as a consultant for Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, a man he had known for years.
The shepherd of the Archdiocese of Baltimore sought to create a Department of Evangelization at the Catholic Center and Father Hurley is recognized as an expert in the field. Nearing the end of the consultation process, the archbishop asked Father Hurley to be executive director of the department.
Archbishop O’Brien announced the formation of the new department May 5 and that Father Hurley had accepted. After the announcement to Catholic Center employees, the archbishop told The Catholic Review that Paulists have been at the forefront of evangelization.
“I just knew his abilities, his interests and his enthusiasm for evangelization,” Archbishop O’Brien said. “He has knowledge of what is going on in this country. It’s not a static movement.”
The Divisions of Catechetical Formation (formerly Evangelization & Catechesis), Deaf Ministry, Disabilities Ministry, Ministry Formation and Development, Worship, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry will all be part of the new department.
Father Hurley, who will start in July, said he was excited about the new challenge.
“I think what most importantly called me here was the archbishop’s vision,” Father Hurley said. “This wasn’t just about reorganization. It was really that the mission of evangelization was driving the restructuring.”
Archbishop O’Brien has made evangelization a priority since he was installed in 2007.
The archbishop said Father Hurley will look to strengthen his own knowledge of the archdiocese in the coming months. Evangelization will be a key mission in the archdiocese, the archbishop said.
“First, he has to know what is going on in the parishes, in our schools and in all our organizations and see how they can be better coordinated and better collaboration can take place among them,” the archbishop said. “We’ll see how this building can better support what’s out there. It starts out there.”
Father Hurley was Executive Director of the National Pastoral Life Center from 2007 to 2009 and was Secretariat for Evangelization for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1997 to 2005. He oversaw ongoing implementation of Go and Make Disciples, A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States. He has been serving as temporary administrator for St. Austin Catholic parish in Austin, TX, for the last six months.
Father Hurley called evangelization “a mission for all of us,” and said the church is growing in its abilities.
“Today we see evangelization much more about Catholic identity and also about a variety of ways we do it,” he said. “It’s not a specific task. It’s really what drives the church and brings us together.”