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When he departed for Rome in 2018 to pursue a doctorate in Missiology, Father Javier Gonzalez was looking for new roads to strengthen the Church and make it more relevant to young people.

What he found, over three-and-a-half years of reflection and study at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, was that the key to renewal may be bringing the Church back to its essence in the mission of Jesus Christ. In December, Fr. Gonzalez successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled: “Light of Hope: A Renewal of the Church in the Light of the Embodiment of its Constants and the Pastoral Circle.”

Summarizing this revelation, Fr. Gonzalez wrote, “Essentially, Jesus Christ envisions and establishes the Church with particular constants, and they must be present and incarnated throughout the course of its ecclesial history in the ordinary and concrete lives of the people of God.”

The “constants” cited by Fr. Javier in his thesis are “Christian love, the permanent and intimate relationship between God and the believers, Christian fraternity, Christian service, discipleship, ongoing Christian formation and the Kingdom of God.”

Fr. Javier asserts in his thesis that most Catholics have been “deprived of them for different reasons.”

“What the people of God have to do is to return back to these ecclesial fundamentals,” he says. “That is, to embrace and to incarnate them into their ordinary lives. This ecclesial view stands as an intended Christian norm not just for some members of the Church, but for every baptized member of the community.”

Prior to his doctoral studies, Fr. Gonzalez had most recently served as Associate Director of Vocations for the Diocese. His ministry in vocations often took him to the urban areas of the Diocese where he would lace up his sneakers to play pickup basketball and soccer with street youth so that he might better understand their cares and concerns.

As he prepares to return to the Diocese for a new ministry assignment in July, Fr. Dr. Gonzalez says he hopes that the ideas contained in his thesis will have a special application in the areas of catechesis, evangelization, formation and mission.