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.

Michael, what called you to dedicate yourself to forming evangelists?

Probably the most important experience of my life was in 2000 when I went to World Youth Day in Rome.  I was at university at the time and had continued to go to church on my own.  Though I still chose to go, I had never truly encountered the Love of God. I had never consciously chose to surrender my life to Him and live in accord with His plan for my life.

At World Youth Day, I heard the invitation to surrender and to offer my life as a gift to God in return for the gift that He has given me.  I said, “Yes”, and that began a new trajectory in my life whereas previously I had very wholesome, but worldly plans.  My conversion was almost a double conversion; a conversion to Christ, but also to the work of evangelization.  Almost immediately, I began to feel a desire to make it possible for other Catholics to encounter God and respond to His invitation in a similar way to that which I had experienced at World Youth Day.  So, it was really from my own conversion that a desire within me was sparked to help other people to come to know and love Him as well.

This moved you towards a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit?

My encounter at World Youth Day in 2000 began a long decade of journeying to figure out exactly how and in what way I was being invited to this call and even exactly what the call was.  I was in college at the time I had this experience so I completed my studies, and I then went to seminary for a few years and studied theology.  After a few years in seminary, I realized that the priesthood wasn’t my vocation, but I still very much wanted to serve the Church particularly in the area of evangelization. When I left seminary in 2006, I had one year left of my theology studies since I had completed my 1st and 2nd Theology.

As I worked on completing that, I became aware of the STL they were just beginning at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.  At the time, it was really the only one like it in the world.  I don’t know if that is different now or not, but at the time it was the only one that had an STL focused entirely on the New Evangelization. I thought, “This is an incredible opportunity for me to be formed!  If I want to spend the rest of my life working in the vineyard on the work of evangelization, it can’t hurt to have a more formal education and formation specifically in that.”  I’m originally from Canada so I went down to Detroit for two years and worked on the STL full-time.  I graduated there in 2009 and it was around that time that I began Mission of the Redeemer Ministries.  I had actually started it towards the end of my first year, just to get it off the ground and get the paperwork, etc. going. The plan was once I graduated, I would be able to put more of my time and life into it.

You married your wife, Linda, in 2008 and she has been a part of your ministry.  Could you describe what that has been like?

When we met, we were both still in school and I had already had this dream, that is, the call planted in my heart to work full-time in the work of the New Evangelization.  I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but I had some general ideas about where I would fit in the overall plan of evangelization.  I shared my vision with her and we talked a lot about it.  It was important for me because I always felt that this type of vocation (full-time ministry work) really involves the whole family; it isn’t just a 9 to 5 job.  This is partly because of very concrete things like traveling and finances, but also because the nature of it is, in some sense, a family vocation.

She warmed up to the idea and we agreed that this was what we thought God was calling us to do, that this was the type of work I would ultimately commit myself to.  We didn’t know exactly what her role in it would be and it has ended up taking on different shapes as our married life has grown.  I do most of the speaking now, but in the earlier days, she did some of the speaking as well.  She also helped with some of the logisticis and traveled with me.  Now that we have a couple of children, it has become a bit more difficult to do so she has stepped back from the more active role of giving talks so that she can focus on them.  But everything we do is is still very much both of us together.  We probably talk about the life of our ministry more than anything else other than our children! She is still very much at the heart of it and it is a great gift to me to be able to do it with her. But the concrete work of it – the speaking, the meetings, the planning, etc. – that is my job and she is busy focusing on Therese and Anna right now.

Is it fair to say that the core of the Mission of the Redeemer Ministries is the formation of evangelists and creating Catholics who can really share their faith?

That is exactly what it is! It is so simple and yet no one else is really doing it.  The driving principle behind Mission of the Redeemer Ministries is if we want the New Evangelizaiton to move forward, we have to have people who are equipped, trained, and who have the power to go out and evangelize.  The general calls for evangelization that are sent out from the pulpit generally fall on deaf ears because many of the people are unevangelized themselves.  Even those who are evangelized have no formation in it and they have no idea even where to begin.  It is entirely foreign to their whole experience of life in the Church.

We want to equip those people who have been evangelized – those who love the Lord and the Church, and are praying faithfully for God’s Kingdom.  We want to form, equip and prepare them by giving them the tools, and the inspiration they need in order to go evangelize.  We want them to go evangelize in their families and workplaces, but primarily in their parishes so as to bring about parish renewal and create opportunities where people can hear and respond to God’s call in their life.

We say “We form the evangelized in the work of the New Evangelization.  We equip the evangelized to become the evangelizers.”  It is somewhat like how Pope Francis is moving people from discipleship to missionary discipleship.

And the three primary ways you do this are relit (both live and in DVD), Summer Institute in the New Evangelization, and the New Evangelization Summit

Yes, those are the three main ones.  When we first started, relit was called School of Evangelization and it was our primary tool.  At the time, I was also giving a fair number of retreats and talks.  As things have grown with our ministry, those ones you listed are the three primary ones.  I also speak at some conferences and I love doing that!

Thank you Michael!


More in this series relit: The Heart of Evangelization.