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The Story of My Life (or, Why Sherry is a Goddess) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 16:37
I took a LONG time to add a response to the debates about "Intentional Disciples" at the Commonweal and Disputations blog, and I'm not going to let that time go to waste, so I'm going to post my response here, too. Sherry, JACK, and Keith responded to most or all of the questions, so I thought I'd share a bit about how working within the Institute has changed my life, my understanding of priesthood, and the role of the laity.

An intentional disciple is what I believe an "active Catholic" should be. Someone who has a relationship with Christ that shapes the way they treat other people, forms the decisions they make in the workplace, market, home, and parish community. That relationship draws them to the Eucharist where they offer all that they have and are with Christ to the Father in the Spirit, and gratefully receive the grace that enables them to deepen that relationship. An intentional disciple recognizes the sins that separate him or her from the community and from Christ and renew their baptismal grace at reconciliation. An intentional disciple's faith seeks understanding through reading and praying over scripture, other spiritual reading, and the teachings of the Church. The intentional disciple gives of themselves and their resources in joyful service to others.

About two years ago a thirty-four year old man at a parish where I help when I'm in Colorado Springs told me about a powerful conversion he had undergone. He blew me away one evening when, during a conversation, he paused, got a big smile on his face, and said, "Fr. Mike, let's be saints!" I realized I had forgotten the point of this whole drama we're living. The intentional disciple, I believe, is conscious of the daily invitation of Jesus to, "come, follow me," and they intentionally seek to respond. Perhaps my description of the intentional disciple in the previous paragraph sounds like someone on the way to becoming a saint. I hope so, because that is our goal, isn't it? I'm not talking about being recognized as a saint by the Church (we'll be dead by definition, so what will we care?). I mean we should have the hope to be united with Christ and all those who are in him in eternity, and live as though that truly is our goal! Of course, it's not something we earn, but a gift offered to us. But we have to cooperate with the grace that's offered us throughout our days, and that takes intentionality!

And that's why I think "intentional discipleship" is important. When we live with our end in mind, we live differently. I'm not promoting a "pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die" quietism that doesn't care about the plight of the poor or the ravages of injustice. Quite the contrary. Intentional disciples are aware of God's love for them as well as for everyone else who is alive, and they reach out in true charity – love- to those around them. We all know exceptional Catholics in our parishes and dioceses whom we admire. Do we desire that others should be like them? Do we want to be like them – not in the details of their life, but in the willingness to entrust our lives to God and see where we're led? We enshrine saints in our stained glass windows and think of them as the exceptions, when surely Christ wants them to be the norm!

My understanding of priesthood and ministry has deepened. I am called to serve the Church (meaning all the baptized) by being an instrument of Christ to help sanctify, teach and govern the parish in such a way that more and more Catholics respond to the invitation of Christ to enter into a love relationship with him: to respond to the love he's already shown them. That relationship cannot thrive unless it is nurtured in community by others who share that love, deepened by prayer, nourished by the grace offered through the sacraments, and expressed in love for others, especially the least and the lost who are Christ "in distressing disguise." Everything I do as a priest must have that end, and every activity I engage in must be examined to see if it is effective in achieving that end. It means I have to stop thinking in terms of developing programs and focus on developing people. From what I've seen of intentional disciples, they will not only maintain the structures and programs we have, they'll develop new, creative ventures not only for our parishes, but for the secular world in which we are inserted.

Unfortunately, I think as Catholics we do one another and the power of God a disservice by having expectations that are ridiculously low. For example, in 2001 the Campus Ministry sub-committee of the USCCB commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to study the impact of campus ministry involvement on the religious beliefs and behaviors of Catholic graduates. What distressed me about the survey (and I realize good surveys are very difficult to produce) were both the questions asked and the results! The survey was based on the six aspects of Catholic campus ministry enumerated in a 1985 USCCB document called, "Empowered by the Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future." I won't go into the details of the survey, although you can read it above.

The questions on the survey, I believe, were attempting to identify "active Catholics." The results illustrate the relationship between participating in campus ministry during college and more frequent Mass attendance, higher parish registration, and greater involvement in parish and other religious activities. 40% of those who were involved in campus ministry attend Mass at least once a week, compared with 30% who were not involved. 17% of those involved in campus ministry reported they were "very involved" in their parish, compared with 8% who had not been involved in campus ministry. Yet among those who had the benefit of participating in campus ministry, only 34% said they considered helping the needy to be an "essential part of their faith", and only 65% said that their faith was "among the most important parts of their lives." The results were lower (27% and 52%, respectively) among those who had not participated in campus ministry.

I find the results distressing, especially since I devoted twelve years of my life to campus ministry. But I also find the questions distressing. When trying to determine the effectiveness of campus ministry in providing leaders for the future, the focus was on lay ecclesial ministry, religious life and priesthood – ignoring leadership in the secular realm. Also, the questions regarding leadership asked if the respondent had ever considered, these ministries, not whether, in fact, they had actually become leaders in those areas. Finally, and I'll get off my soapbox here, the question regarding the importance of faith simply asked if faith was "among" the most important parts of their life. How does one interpret that? Is it among the top two? Five? Ten? Even when a respondent could expand "most important parts" to whatever size necessary to include faith, less than two-thirds of those who had participated in campus ministry managed to squeeze faith in. Is this what we mean by "active Catholic?" I hope not, and we dishonor Christ, the Gospel and the saints and martyrs if we do.

I am learning that as a priest I have to be aware of my own charisms (or spiritual gifts) to better know where Christ is calling me, and to know where I need to collaborate with those with different gifts. As a priest I am called, according to a number of different magisterial documents to "recognize, uncover with faith, acknowledge with joy, foster with diligence, appreciate, judge and discern, coordinate and put to good use, and have 'heartfelt esteem'" for the charisms of all the baptized. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 30; Decree on Ministry and Life of Priests, 9; I Will Give You Shepherds, 40, 74; Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People, 32) This is a radically different approach to ministry than I have witnessed, experienced or attempted. But this is rather ironic, since I didn't feel called to priesthood because I wanted to administer a large, complex business called a parish or maintain programs irregardless of their effectiveness. I felt called to first of all be changed by Christ and his people, then to help others respond to his call and be empowered by him to change the world.

In my close association with the work of Sherry Weddell, Fr. Michael Sweeney, and their collaborators, I have followed the connections they have discovered in a host of documents that outline a challenging and Spirit-filled description of the mission of the Church, the integral and primary role of the laity in that mission, and the role of service to the laity that is mine as a cleric. It's breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time; breathtaking, because of its beauty, and heartbreaking because it is so seldom realized.

I am blessed to have been led by God to the Institute. I hope you consider taking a look at what I believe the Holy Spirit is doing through us. You might check out a pamphlet that Fr. Michael and Sherry produced called The Parish: Mission or Maintenance, on the untapped potential of the parish in the formation of lay apostles. Sherry wrote another pamphlet on the parish as a house of formation for adult Catholics called, "Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles" . They will help you have a better feel for what the Institute's about.

Oh, and I threw that stuff about Sherry being a goddess in just so you'd read this terribly long post.
January Edition of Siena E-Scribe Here PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 13:42
Intentional Disciples Throughout St. Blogs PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 12:08

Written by Keith Strohm

Discussions about this humble blog have appeared in several places throughout St. Blog's parish--most recently at Disputations and at Commonweal's blog. If you have the chance, do go and have a look to see how the conversation about intentional discipleship progresses throughout the blogosphere!

That They May Have Life PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 08:41

Written by Keith Strohm

As I was reading through my monthly pile of periodicals, I came across a wonderful article in First Things--a journal of Catholic thought--regarding the latest statement made by Evangelicals and Catholics Together entitled, That They May Have Life. EaCT is, as the name might imply, an ecumenical group that has met for the past decade (and more) highlighting areas where Catholicism and Evangelical belief share unity. While not glossing over very important differences in theology and ecclesiology, Evangelicals and Catholics Together is a great example of authentic ecumenism in action.

That They May Have Life is a statement, according to its introduction, that aims to

. . .make the case for what is commonly called “a culture of life—" and to do so in a way that invites public deliberation and engages questions of public policy. Our primary purpose, however, is to explain to our communities why we believe that support for a culture of life is an integral part of Christian faith and therefore a morally unavoidable imperative of Christian discipleship.

In the contentious political and moral marketplace of ideas, what some denote as the Public Square when referring to the polity, the debate about life issues is often polarizing, with opposing "sides" not able to actually dialogue through the rhetoric. Even within Christianity there is division regarding the morality of abortion and contraception. While the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Churches) among others, hold to the unchanging and unchanged belief in the evil of abortion, for example, some mainline Protestant churches and other denominations have waivered in their belief. That They May Have Life presents a winsome and powerful case for supporting a culture of life within society.

Although not its primary purpose, I find the statement fascinating in regards to non-Christians. While it clearly uncovers the theological and scriptural foundations for a culture of life, it holds that:

. . .the public policies pertinent to the defense of the humanum are supported by reasons that are accessible to all and should be convincing to all. The term “humanism” is frequently employed in opposition to Christian faith, as in the phrase “secular humanism.” We propose a deeper and richer humanism that is firmly grounded in the bedrock of scriptural truth, that is elaborated in the history of Christian thought, that is in accord with clear reason, that honors the best in our civilization’s tradition, and that holds the promise of a future more worthy of the dignity of the human person who is the object of God’s infinite love and care. This more authentic humanism is in no way alien to Christianity. There is in world history no teaching more radically humanistic than the claim that God became a human being in order that human beings might participate in the life of God, now and forever.

In its fullest expression, Christianity calls and moves people to a deeper understanding and expression of authentic humanity. Through Christ, we can become who we truly are. The Christian labors, then, to create and heal social and cultural structures so that they promote all that is truly and authentically human. And rather than seeing themselves opposed to non-Christians, Christians should eagerly strive to work alongside people of goodwill in a work that can be understood through human reason without recourse to theological or scriptural understandings. In other words, Christians work for the good of humanity and particularly when goals become proposed or "realized," they can be understood by humanity through the use of human reason alone.

I know that there is much suspicion of religion (particularly Christianity) within American discourse, but the statement made by Evangelicals and Catholics Together rightly and clearly hits the nail on the head. Deeply held beliefs of any nature (including religion) should not be excluded from the Public Square. In particular, Christians need to make a case for the rightness of their positions on Life Issues that are accessible to those who share a different view, attempting to educate and convince, and such deliberations should take place within the pluralistic and democratic structures of our country. Despite what other pundits and possessors of opposing viewpoints might think, Christians in no way wish to create a Theocracy.

This is reiterated in the final words of the statement:

We cannot and would not impose this vision of a culture of life upon others. We do propose to our fellow Christians and to all Americans that they join with us in a process of deliberation and decision that holds the promise of a more just and humane society committed, in life and law, to honoring the inestimable dignity of every human being created in the image and likeness of God. For our part, as Evangelicals and Catholics together, we refuse to despair of the power of public witness and persuasion in the service of every member of the human community, for whom Christ came “that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Although the statement can not be said to reflect the whole of evangelical thinking (one of the unintended fruits of the Reformation), it does, in fact, encapsulate Catholic thought and belief quite well. I encourage everyone to read this powerful and moving document--especially those who hold an opposing viewpoint.

Heaven: Divine Dullness? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 07:56
A Catholic News Service piece from Jan 19 raises an interesting question: how does our image of heaven affect our eagerness to preach the Gospel and persevere as disciples?

Divine dullness: Usual images of heaven don't impress Christians

" . . .an Italian biblicist, Father Carlo Buzzetti, has approached the question from a different angle: The modern church, he said, does a lousy job imagining what heaven is like and communicating it to the faithful. Most Catholics, Father Buzzetti said, understand heaven as a vague place of eternal survival, where happiness can become monotonous and where the absence of human passions creates an "anemic" atmosphere. In other words, boring. And if heaven is seen as a dull routine of perpetual bliss, how can it possibly stimulate people to live a good and moral life in this world? Father Buzzetti posed the questions in a long article in a recent issue of Italian Clergy Review. He based his analysis on extensive discussions with pastors, who told him the traditional images of heaven -- a vision of God, a banquet or eternal repose -- were making little or no impression on modern Christians.

Is this just an Italian phenomena? What gives? Is it because our lives in the west are affluent and protected in a way that previous generations did not know? Or is something else at work?

What is the most compelling image of heaven you have encountered and how does it affect (or not) your desire to live as an intentional disciple now?

One of my favorites is from St. Thomas More:

"There is no sorrow on earth that heaven cannot heal."
Stem Cells and the Lay Apostolate PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 06:53

Written by Keith Strohm

You might remember news reports last Summer indicating that scientists at a biotech firm had developed a new method of creating stem cells without destroying human embryos. I'm by no means an expert in bio-science, but as a concerned Catholic, I have tried to "think with the Church," educating myself on the realities (economic, political, scientific, and theological) and examining them through the lens of Tradition and Scripture. While this new technique seems interesting, critics on both sides of the stem cell debate have raised some concerns. You can check out the report here.

Reading the MSNBC report closely, I was a little peeved by this quote from one of the scientists at the biotech firm who created the new technique: "This will make it far more difficult to oppose this research." I object because it characterizes those who are opposed to stem cell research as reactionary luddites who are opposed to the research on superstitous grounds. In fact, I don't think you'll find any Catholic who wouldn't want science to advance cures to illnesses that threaten the lives of our brothers and sisters--we just want these advances to respect and protect the dignity of those who are ill and the human life of the embryo. That's why you'll see many Catholics wholeheartedly supporting Adult Stem Cell Research, which has already yielded far more clinical results than embryonic stem cell research--and hasn't destroyed human life in the process.

Recently, scientists have discovered a method of extracting and utilizing stem cells from amniotic fluid--certainly a far less morally objectional approach. In fact, it could very well be that amniotic stem cells provide the "solution" to the stem cell debate.

However, I'm not really sure what these new techniques will yield in the future of the Stem Cell Battles, but as science and technology continues to advance faster than the moral, ethical, and theological frameworks we construct, you can bet that the ground will continue to shift on a yearly basis. Amidst the roiling and churning of the 21st century, it is comforting to have the Foundation and Cornerstone of Jesus Christ and the loving bulwark of His Church to hold on to--not in a way that runs from science and "reason" in fear, but in a way that embraces scientific and technological research, placing them within the proper relationship to Natural Law and Revealed Truth.

This is part of the work of the lay apostolate, not to just evaluate the morality and ethics of scientific research, but to enter the field of science itself and work from within. Utilizing reason and research to provide ethical and moral solutions to the problems and issues we face in our mortal existence--making life better for men and women across the globe.

Such thoughts remind me of John Paull the Great's wonderful 1998 Encyclical entitled, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). His opening paragraph states:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

For the Christian, faith and reason are not opposed, but are two gifts that we are called to utilize in the course of fulfilling our apostolic mission.

St. Sulpice: Center of Spiritual Renewal and Apostolic Innovation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 06:00
The 66 years from 1594, when Frances de Sales set out on foot to re-evangelize alpine France, to the death of St. Vincent de Paul in 1660, was a time of extraordinary spiritual renewal in France. It is sometimes called the "generation of saints" although it spanned three generations.

At the center of this revival was the parish of St. Sulpice and its pastor, Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Sulpicians. He lived in a very different time where so many of the things we take for granted were missing: universal public education, innumerable public and private programs and services for the poor and sick; an educated laity, etc. So we can't just imitate what he did but we certainly can imitate his spirit!

What I find fascinating is his intensely apostolic and creative view of the parish, the diocesan priesthood, and the whole Church. For him, the parish was all about mission, not maintenance. The Sulpicians at St. Patrick's told me that Olier was noted for his collaboration with the laity.

Read this (long) description of Olier's amazing evangelical creativity at the parish level from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. And then give yourself permission to dream about what God could do in and through your parish:

"In August, 1641, M. Olier took charge of St-Sulpice. His aims were to reform the parish, establish a seminary, and Christianize the Sorbonne, then very worldly, through the piety and holiness of the seminarians who should attend its courses. The parish embraced the whole Faubourg-St-Germain, with a population as numerous and varied as a large city. It was commonly reputed the largest and most vicious parish, not only in the French capital, but in all Christendom. The enormity of the evils had killed all hope of reformation.

Father Olier organized his priests in community life. The parish was divided into eight districts, each under the charge of a head priest and associates, whose duty it was to know individually all the souls under their care, with their spiritual and corporal needs, especially the poor, the uninstructed, the vicious, and those bound in irregular unions. Thirteen catechetical centres were established, for the instruction not only of children but of many adults who were almost equally ignorant of religion. Special instructions were provided for every class of persons, for the beggars, the poor, domestic servants, lackeys, midwives, workingmen, the aged etc. Instructions and debates on Catholic doctrine were organized for the benefit of Calvinists, hundreds of whom were converted.

A vigorous campaign was waged against immoral and heretical literature and obscene pictures; leaflets, holy pictures, and prayer books were distributed to those who could not or would not come to church, and a bookstore was opened at the church to supply good literature. The poor were cared for according to methods of relief inspired by the practical genius of St. Vincent de Paul. During the five or six years of the Fronde, the terrible civil war that reduced Paris to widespread misery, and often to the verge of famine, M. Olier supported hundreds of families and provided many with clothing and shelter. None were refused. His rules of relief, adapted in other parishes, became the accepted methods and are still followed at St-Sulpice.

Orphans, very numerous during the war, were placed in good parishes, and a house of refuge established for orphan girls. A home was open to shelter and reform the many women rescued from evil lives, and another for young girls exposed to danger. Many free schools for poor girls were founded by Father Olier, and he laboured also at the reform of the teachers in boys' schools, not however, with great success. He perceived that the reform of boys' schools could be accomplished only through a new congregation; which in fact came about after his death through St. Jean Baptist de la Sale, a pupil of St-Sulpice, who founded his first school in Father Olier's parish.

Free legal aid was provided for the poor. He gathered under one roof the sisters of many communities, who had been driven out of their convents in the country and fled to Paris for refuge, and cared for them till the close of the war. In fine, there was no misery among the people, spiritual or corporal, for which the pastor did not seek a remedy.

His work for the rich and high-placed was no less thorough and remarkable. He led the movement against duelling, formed a society for its suppression, and enlisted the active aid of military men of renown, including the marshals of France and some famous duellists. He converted many of noble and royal blood, both men and women. He combated the idea that Christian perfection was only for priests and religious, and inspired many to the practices of a devout life, including daily meditation, spiritual reading and other exercises of piety, and to a more exact fulfillment of their duties at court and at home. . .

He persuaded the rich–royalty, nobles, and others–to a great generosity, without which his unbounded charities would have been impossible. The foundation of the present church of St-Sulpice was laid by him. At times as many as sixty or even eighty priests were ministering together in the parish, of whom the most illustrious, a little after Olier's time, was Fénelon, later Archbishop of Cambrai. This was one of the best effects of Olier's work, for it sent trained, enlightened zealous priests into all parts of France. From being the most vicious in France, the parish became one of the most devout, and it has remained such to this day.

Olier was always the missionary. His outlook was world- wide; his zeal led to the foundation of the Sulpician missions at Montreal (Sherry's note: Montreal was founded by a remarkable band of French lay Catholics who dreamed of recreating the Christian community of the book of Acts and evangelizing Native Americans) and enabled him to effect the conversion of the English King, Charles II, to the Catholic faith.

The second great work of Olier was the establishment of the seminary of St-Sulpice. By his parish, which he intended to serve as a model to the parochial clergy, as well as by his seminary, he hoped to help give France a worthy secular priesthood, through which alone, he felt, the revival of religion could come. . . The beginnings were in great poverty, which lasted many years, for Olier would never allow any revenues from the parish to be expended except on parish needs.

From the start he designed to make it a national seminary and regarded as providential the fact that the parish of St-Sulpice and the seminary depended directly on the Holy See. In the course of two years students came to it from about twenty dioceses of
France. Some attended the courses at the Sorbonne, others followed those given in the seminary. His seminarians were initiated into parochial work, being employed very fruitfully in teaching catechism. At the Sorbonne their piety, it appears, had a very marked influence. The seminary, fulfiling the hopes of Father Olier, not only sent apostolic priests into all parts of France, but became the model according to which seminaries were founded throughout the kingdom.

What's a Lay Person to Do? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 21:07
If you've been wondering what are the presuppositions of many of the contributors to Intentional Disciples, I suggest you read Russell Shaw's book, "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church." I read it last autumn with great excitement as I discovered, at last, someone who seemed to be speaking the same language, and who had made similar connections between a variety of papal encyclicals and apostolic exhortations as had Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P. and Sherry Weddell. Before you buy the book, however, you can get a taste of it here and by the quotes I offer below.

Mr. Shaw is a layman who has served the Church for many years as a journalist. His book covers the role of the laity in the Church from Apostolic times to after the Second Vatican Council. He also offers some insightful comments regarding the pernicious disease of clericalism, both in clerics and in members of the laity. Most exciting to me, however, is the fact that nearly half of the book is devoted to discussing personal vocation, the laity in the mission of the Church, and the apostolate and spirituality of the laity. In the book, as well as in the article linked above, he describes what the laity "should be doing."

1) Giving priority to lay apostolate in and to the secular world as the preferred, though not exclusive, form of lay participation in the mission of the Church;

2) Cultivating an authentically lay spirituality incorporating central elements of lay life and experience like marriage and work;

3) Discerning, accepting, and living out of the unique personal vocations of lay persons as the essential framework for their apostolate and their personal holiness.

He also advocates the need for promoting a new Catholic "subculture" as a necessary means for supporting the evangelization of the culture. But he's no romantic naively longing for the "good old" pre-Vatican II days. He writes, "Simply returning to the Catholic subculture of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s is not possible, nor would it be desirable if it could be done. Along with its undoubted strengths and virtues, the subculture of that era was triumphalistic, intellectually shallow, and overly defensive. Hardly what is needed now, if the evangelization of culture is the goal.
The new Catholic subculture must instead be built upon an infrastructure of dynamically orthodox institutions, programs, and movements committed to forming and motivating Catholics for the evangelization of the secular world. Here and there, it may be starting to happen. If it is to succeed, lay women and men must play a key role."

Sounds like he's thinking about the Catherine of Siena Institute, doesn't it? I'll have to e-mail him a link to this blog and our website!
ID Featured in This Week's Catholic Carnival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 16:13
Bernadette's post: Parable of the Sower was featured in this week's Catholic Carnival. Congratulations, Bernadette!

Although our blog is three weeks old, we are delighted by the level of traffic and conversation. This may well increase because our January edition of the Siena E-Scribe was e-mailed to over 3,000 people today and Intentional Disciples is the topic of the lead article.

Welcome to our new visitors. Please feel free to look around, make yourself at home, help yourself to something to nibble, and join in the conversation!
Blessed Nicholas Gross. Lay Saint PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 14:06
Today is the feast day of martyr Nicholas Gross, a German lay man and father of seven who was hung for his opposition to the Nazis on January 23, 1945.
Oh Cactus Tree, oh Cactus Tree, How Lovely Are Your Stickers . . . PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 09:36

Tucson received 1/2 inch of snow Sunday night. The community declared a "snow day".
Fr. Mike sends this evidence of the miracle.
Join the Club! Or Not. PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 08:23

Written by Keith Strohm

This morning I was making my rounds in the blogosphere and came upon an interesting thread on Catholic Answer Forums. In it, a man who is Southern Baptist but has wanted to move into full communion with the Catholic Church details the frustrations he's had getting anyone to contact him and the roadblocks he's encountered to actually becoming Catholic.

Even more illuminating are the responses of Catholics (converts or cradle) to his situation.

Do read the whole thread if you can. It's entitled:

Is Catholicism a private, scripted Club?

Mission Possible? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 06:34

Written by Keith Strohm

As we hear in the gospel, Christ proclaims that "all things have been handed over to me by my Father." Jesus was given, and accepted, a mission of love and salvation for the world. As members of Christ's Body through Baptism, we too participate in that mission, whether we are in church or at the store. For us, every moment of life is an apostolic moment; we are sent in to the world for the sake of the world.

Answering that call is intentional discipleship in action--living our lives so that others might encounter Christ and find rest beneath his yoke. Not an easy task as we try and balance the oftentimes competing demands of our own pursuits--yet our mission field is precisely those areas of life which we inhabit, bringing the love and the healing of Christ to all those we meet.

How prepared do you feel for this mission?

The Charism of Bi-Location PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 23 January 2007 06:21
When Fr. Mike started with us, I let him know that bi-location was one of the requirements for the job. This coming weekend is going to be the ultimate test as we have five different Called & Gifted workshops in five different cities.

The secret to bi-location success? Our hardy band of traveling teachers and our emerging local teaching teams. Altogether, about 100 men and women (lay and clergy) like Keith and "the other Sherry", help us teach the Called & Gifted workshop around the country.

If you are near one of the following cities, check it out! Go here for contact information and to pre-register. You do not have to be a parishioner to attend. The C & G runs 7 - 9:30 pm on Friday night and 9:30 - 4pm on Saturday.

Speaking of parishes of interest, all of these parishes are exceptionally committed to evangelization and lay formation.

1) San Francisco, St. Dominic's parish.
(Scott Moyer, Director of Adult Faith Formation, heads up our Bay area Called & Gifted team. Scott was a high tech entrepreneur when he first took the C & G, and was able to "name" the curious restlessness that had haunted him for years. It was the charism of pastoring. Result: Scott changed careers and just finished his Master's in theology. Scott has also just become the proud father of Matthew. He's working on the bi-location thing.)

2) Spokane, WA: St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
(Fr. Daniel Barnett, the hyperkenetic (he moves so fast he might as well be bi-locating) pastor of two parishes and diocesan vocations director, heads our Spokane area team.)

3) Boise, ID: Sacred Heart Church
(Carol McGee, Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Formation, had led our Idaho state teaching team for the past 6 years. She also heads up the parish Evangelization Retreats which have resulted in hundreds of Boise Catholics and Protestants becoming intentional disciples over the past 10 years)

4) Colorado Springs, CO: Holy Apostles Church
(I'll be heading up this local parish teaching team in training. I like watching other people bi-locate.)

5) St. Paul, MN: Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church
(Fr. Mike will test the limits of bi-location by attempting to be in St. Paul and Tucson at the same time!)
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