Father Geno Sylva is a prime example of the “John Paul II Generation” of priests.

Young, culturally savvy and personally committed to the Church’s mission, he has worked for the past two years in an area close to the heart of Blessed John Paul II, a concern that has also been promoted by Pope Benedict XVI: the New Evangelization.

That concern will be coming more and more into focus this year, as Pope Benedict and the world’s bishops prepare for a synod meeting in October on the New Evangelization. During that month, the Pope will inaugurate a Year of Faith, beginning on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Father Sylva, 44, holds the unusual title of episcopal vicar for evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., and his home base is equally unusual — a renovated mansion on the grounds of a former private Catholic school that is now called St. Paul Inside the Walls. Each week, about 1,500 people come to the site for evening classes and informal gatherings designed to equip practicing Catholics with the skills they need to draw others to the faith and also to attract inquirers to ask questions in a non-church setting.

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