In the first year of his papacy, Pope Francis published the apostolic exhortation Joy of the Gospel, a book-length ode to evangelization. Four years later, the meaning of missionary discipleship is beginning to bubble to the surface. Last summer, the USCCB convened a special meeting to analyze, celebrate, and establish a common understanding for the American Catholic Church.


This fall, the NCEA has decided to use Joy of the Gospel as the source for its new vision for Catholic schools. Do you want to be part of the conversation? Then you need to read Joy of the Gospel. Start by picking up a copy then read my Wednesday Book Blog describing how to approach it.


Next, read the coverage of its release and the introductory pieces on it:

  1. Fr. Stephen Bevans, SVD, offers a great introductionto Joy of the Gospel.
  2. The National Catholic Register describes 9 Things to Know and Share about Joy of the Gospel
  3. America presents an introduction to Joy of the Gospel


Have you read it yet? You really need to make the effort to read Joy of the Gospel. Once you do, listen to my podcast with David Faber, the outstanding superintendent of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, on the Catholic School Matters podcast. This podcast will drop Monday, September 25th and is intended to help superintendents and other Catholic school leaders as they prepare for the Catholic Leadership Summit in October.


Then, try reading some of the lengthier pieces on Joy of the Gospel:


  1. Kevin Cotter’s “Focus on Campus” blog offers some helpful tips on how to read Joy of the Gospel—including sharing great resources. He provides a great way to understand it depending on your level of interest.
  2. Cardinal DiNardo shares his thoughts on Joy of the Gospel in a Crux interview. It’s interesting and a quick read.
  3. Bishop Robert Barron describes Joy of the Gospelin a short video(9 minutes). Bishop Barron is always interesting to watch and the 9 minutes go by very quickly.
  4. The Vatican provides a synthesisof the apostolic exhortation. Do you want to know the official word? The party line? Here it is!
  5. Church Life, a scholarly magazine published by the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, published a special issueon Joy of the Gospel with lots of scholarly takes. The introduction is especially insightful but the issue itself will lead readers in a variety of directions.


If you’re interested in developing a faith formation program for your staff, here are 3 great options:


  1. Paula Gooder from Church House Publishing offers a six-session study coursein sharing faith based on Joy of the Gospel
  2. The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice produced a resource for discussion and reflectionon the Joy of the Gospel.
  3. Catholic Theological Union (CTU) has a great introductionand a study guidewith a 12- part series of videos/podcasts which can serve as an online PLC. These are short little vignettes from a variety of different topics. I’ve listened these and really enjoyed their thought-provoking nature.


Portions of this blog post will appear on the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)’s blog at