TIGARD — There is a scene from the 2003 film “The Return of the King” in which leaders in the city of Gondor, in a desperate appeal for help, set off a series of bonfires, which eventually catch the attention of their friends in the kingdom of Rohan. This “lighting of the beacons” has always struck me as a beautiful analogy for evangelization, for what is evangelization if not one long, magnificent succession of hearts being set ablaze with the love of Christ?

As the first beacon is lit in the film, we hear the words: Hope is kindled. Oh, how we need hope! These recent months have been marked with suffering, instability, unrest — leaving in their wake a profound need for the kind of hope that only Christ can give.

Even the smallest flicker of the Gospel’s light, which we can recognize from afar — in a true word, beautiful song, or genuine smile — can bring our hope leaping back to life. And what if we looked at our parishes as these places where hope is kindled? Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this divine domino effect across western Oregon: Fires of faith ignited from Astoria to Brookings to Ashland.

So what might one of these “beacon” parishes look like? It’s a place where:

Clergy, staff and parishioners have a keen sense of their baptismal identity – a life rooted in Christ and for Christ.

Parishioners are immersed in a culture of stewardship that invites them to identify and nurture their gifts with a spirit of generosity.

You can find bold proclaimers of the kingdom and agents of reconciliation.

The light of the transfiguration is reflected in the liturgy and various ministries, signs of heaven breaking into daily life.

All of parish life flows from and returns to the Eucharist.

In short, a parish has a kind of presence — since it is, indeed, home to the Real Presence — that sets it apart from anything else in the community. A casual bystander should be able to sense that the Holy Spirit is on the move in this place, from the front office to the sanctuary to the classrooms. These are places where evangelization is part of the ordinary landscape of parish life, and not some kind of elite mission entrusted to a handful of volunteers.

In reading the signs of the times, Pope Francis has said on several occasions that we are not simply living through an era of change, but rather the change of an era. We are without a doubt standing at a crossroads, and it is precisely in these moments when the exciting opportunity to be radically open to the Holy Spirit presents itself. The obstacles seem overwhelming at times, but empowered by the promises of Christ, the disciple cannot help but echo those words from the well-known Christmas song: A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

St. Joan of Arc famously declared that she was not afraid to do whatever it took to advance the mission entrusted to her by our Lord because she was born for this. These bold words should be our refrain as well, since it is for this reason that we have been re-born in baptism: To go and make disciples of all nations, while trusting, every step of the way that Christ is with us always until the end of the age. (Mt 28:19-20) Furthermore, the Pacific Northwest was historically a destination for mission-minded men and women, eager for new frontiers and adventures. Today, we can harness that same dynamism and transform western Oregon into a hub of missionary activity, radiating the truth and love of Jesus Christ across the land.

Marston, a consecrated virgin, is director of faith formation at St. Anthony Parish in Tigard.