New Testament models of evangelization and their expression in American Catholicism

Timothy E Byerley, Fordham University


This dissertation argues that six dominant models of evangelization emerge in the Christian experience. They can be identified in seminal form with specific New Testament passages. The St. Stephen model shows the strength of Christian witness to lead others to Christ, and is based on the martyrdom of St. Stephen (Acts 7:54--60). The Jerusalem model describes the evangelizing power of the sacred liturgy, and is discerned in the first Christian liturgical celebrations in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42--47). The Petrine model points to the preaching of the Word, and has its origin in St. Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14--41). The Apostolic model highlights the role of the small, fervent community in the propagation of the faith, and is founded on Jesus' selection and commissioning of the Twelve Apostles (Mk 3:13--19). The Areopagus model involves the inculturation of Christianity in the fabric of society, and looks to St. Paul's address to the Athenians in the Areopagus as its prototype (Acts 17:16--34). The Loaves and Fishes model calls attention to the evangelizing effects of Christian charity reflected in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy performed by His followers, and is typified in Jesus' healing and feeding the multitudes (Mt 15:29--38). Each of these models of evangelization is readily observed in every age of Church history. In the American context, the St. Stephen model is illustrated in the courageous Jesuit witness before the native peoples of North America. The Jerusalem model was extensively employed by Junipero Serra and his fellow Franciscans as a primary means of introducing the California Indians to the mystery of Christ. The Petrine model is portrayed in the parish mission crusade that revived the immigrant Church in the nineteenth century. The Apostolic model is represented by the mission of Fr. Hecker and the Paulist Fathers, the first religious order of priests founded in America. The Areopagus model is evident in the life and work of the great educator Bishop John Lancaster Spalding. The Loaves and Fishes model is strikingly revealed in the story of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop and her co-workers.

Subject Area

Religion|Religious congregations|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Byerley, Timothy E, "New Testament models of evangelization and their expression in American Catholicism" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3214718.