NES 1This is the final piece in the series on Michael Dopp and Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, in which Michael describes the upcoming New Evangelization Summit.  If you haven’t yet read it, please take a look at the other articles in this series: Michael Dopp Interview, in which we focus what moved Michael to dedicate his life to forming evangelists; relit: The Heart of Evangelization, where Michael discusses how he forms evangelists; and Summer Institute in the New Evangelizationwhich offers in-depth training for those evangelists who want to take evangelization to the next level in their life.

Michael, the big event you are currently working on is the New Evangelization Summit which is based in Ottawa, but hosted throughout North America.  It will take place this April 15-16. Could you tell us a little bit about what that will entail?

The goal of the summit is to bring together and to inspire Catholics to evangelize.  It is a day and a half – Friday night and a Saturday – and in that time you can’t give people the integrated and deep theological formation of evangelization.  But it is long enough to set people’s hearts on fire!

I’ve realized that there are lots of great Catholic conferences, but conferences always have two limitations. Number one, the number of great speakers you can get which is usually effected by the budget.  Most can probably get one great speaker and a few local speakers, but that is often it.  The second limitation is how far people are willing to come.  If you have a really great conference you might get people to come from a few hours away.  But people aren’t going to drive to San Diego from Philadelphia just because there is a great speaker coming to San Diego.  Maybe for the Pope, but even there, probably not.

So I thought, number one, we need to have a large conference that was on such a scale that we could bring in lots of great speakers. And, number two, what if we made it possible for people from all different places to attend it locally? So, the New Evangelization Summit is simply a big conference in Ottawa, but we are also broadcasting it to thirty host sites across North America. These host sites are generally either parishes or organized by the diocese at a diocesan center or a local high school. With these host sites, instead of people having to go all the way to Ottawa, they can just go where it is being held closest to them be it in Syracuse, Oklahoma City or wherever it is.

Last year was our first one and we had a sell-out here in Ottawa with eight hundred people. We had twenty host sites with 1700 people at the host sites for a total of about 2500 people.  This year we are hoping to double it.  We have increased the number of host sites from 20 to 30, and will be increasing the average size of a host site as well. Also, we are going to expand the conference in Ottawa to about 1000 or 1100 people.

The response was incredible last year!  We had great speakers which really makes a difference.  We had Scott Hahn, Ralph Martin, Fr. Michael Gaitley, Fr. James Mallon, Patrick Coffin and a couple others.  This year, we have Dr. Peter Kreeft, Christopher West, Sherry Weddell, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa (remotely from Rome), Bishop Christian Riesbeck, Angele Regnier, and myself.

We found last year that it really did what we hoped it would do; it set hearts on fire for the work of evangelization.  We want this to be an event that people come back to every year to have their heart set on fire again, to have their spirit renewed, to get new ideas, to meet new people, to make new connections, and to hear new stories. I really think that is going to happen.

What does it take for someone to be a host site?

It is pretty simple. We work very closely with our host sites so that they have great events and we have lots of materials that we send to them.  All they really need is a suitable venue.  This can be a church basement as long as it is a good environment with windows, etc.  We are aiming for about 100 people at each one so it needs to be able to accommodate that number comfortably. They need to have a hard wired internet connection, but 99% of parishes do so it is usually not an issue.  They’ll need a computer, a screen, a projector, speakers, etc. for broadcasting which they can rent it if they need.  They need to put together a team to help promote it, do the food, etc.

We do all of the registration ourselves, we send all the promotional materials, and we give them a very detailed communications plan and organizational plan for it.  It is actually a pretty simple process for host sites to sign up and work with us.  We’ve worked very hard to make that possible because we want it to be a really positive experience for the host sites.  One of the things we’ve seen is that most of the host-sites that did it with us last year want to do it again.  I think fifteen or sixteen of the twenty decided to do it again which is a really good response.

What is the layout of the event?  

It is all large group and we do that intentionally. We are really following the model of the Global Leadership Summit which is organized by Willow Creek (south-west of Chicago).  They recommend you stick with the large groups and that is what we have done.  I think that small groups are a really important piece which can happen as followup in the parishes, but our time is so limited that we really want these speakers to transfer as much of their knowledge and wisdom as possible.

In addition to the speakers, we have some time for prayer. This year we will be doing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 o’clock from a beautiful DVD that a local couple here in Ottawa produced.  So we’ll be praying the Chaplet together, bishops will be leading us in prayer each morning, and in Ottawa there is an optional Mass at the Cathedral with the bishop.  Last year we had a couple testimonies, but this year we’ll be highlighting an evangelical initiative called Alpha which will be presented by the head of Alpha Canada.  She is going to be interviewing a few people that have been involved in Alpha as participants or as organizers. There will be a bit of a mix throughout the day, but the bulk of the day will consist of the presentations by the speakers.

Thank you for your time and God bless!

Michael Dopp 4Michael Dopp is the President of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries and works alongside his wife, Linda, who assists in the ministry as well as taking care of their two daughters, Therese (3) and Anna (4.5 months).  Mission of the Redeemer Ministries “seeks to inspire and form lay Catholics into holy and effective evangelists so that they may share the Gospel in all contexts of their lives.”  The three primary initiatives of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries are relit: The Heart of EvangelizationSummer Institute in the New Evangelization, and the upcoming New Evangelization Summit to take place in April.