Dear Friends in Christ,
Hello, friends and family of the Catherine of Siena Institute! Some of you may have noticed that the Siena Scribe took a brief pause for, oh, six years. Many of you have joined us since the last Scribe went out. We have been stretched to the limit by wonderful, if unforeseen, opportunities. 2016 is the year to begin again sending out quarterly editions of the Scribe. God has opened some amazing doors since you last heard from us.
In July, 2011, Our Sunday Visitor bought - sight unseen - a book that I had just begun to sketch out. They asked me to send them everything I had (which wasn’t much) at 6:30 am. Eight hours later, OSV said they wanted the book and my whole life turned on a dime. I finished the book in a whirlwind five months and it was published in July 2012 as Forming Intentional Disciples: The path to knowing and following Jesus. The prayers and support of others, years of listening to thousands of Catholics talk about their relationship with God in gifts discernment interviews and learning from the 1,600 diocesan and parish leaders who had gone through our Making Disciples seminar made it all possible.
The work of evangelizing and making disciples in the 21st century lies at the heart of Forming Intentional Disciples (FID). FID is a book designed to help Catholic leaders and staff and all committed Catholics make disciples at the parish level because when life at the parish level changes, the life of the whole Church will change. Forming Intentional Disciples describes the typical journey that 21st century people take on their way into a deeper relationship with God. In particular, Forming Intentional Disciples covers the five thresholds or stages of conversion that people today typically pass through on their way to becoming disciples, how to open a conversation about faith and belief, how to ask thought-provoking questions and establish an atmosphere of trust, when to tell the Great Story of Jesus, how to help someone respond to God's call to intentional discipleship, and much more.
The response to the book has been stunning. The first printing sold out in less than a month. As of the beginning of 2016, the book has sold 120,000 copies and received rave reviews. Priests and leaders told me it was as though I had read their diary or been present at every conversation on evangelization they had had over the past four years. It turned out that we were all having the same conversations and wrestling with the same issues! Forming Intentional Disciples has been read by bishops, priests and lay leaders all over English speaking world and is now available in Spanish and Polish.
A best-selling Forming Intentional Disciples Study Guide helped thousands read FID in small groups. Then came Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples, a collaborative effort in which a number of brilliant evangelizer-friends of the Institute shared what they had learned about fostering parishes of engaged, creative and obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. It was my honor as editor to put this wonderful book together and contribute a chapter. Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples has also become a Catholic best seller.
Because of FID's success, the opportunities coming our way have quadrupled. This means I spent most of past three years on the road speaking about intentional discipleship and training clergy and pastoral leaders in the practical art of making disciples in our generation. I wrote briefly about charisms in FID and so interest in the Called and Gifted Discernment Process went up dramatically as well.
We have CSI teams emerging in England, Ireland, Singapore, and Australia, and are putting on events throughout the English-speaking world. At this point, we’ve worked with over 500 parishes and 140 dioceses across the world. The tremendous response to Forming Intentional Disciples has also generated a continuing demand for more.
Which brings me to the present. To meet the demand, I will be taking most of 2016 to work at home updating and revising the Called and Gifted process because people are intensely interested and after twenty years and all the new discoveries that came with Forming Intentional Disciples; Called and Gifted needs revising and updating. It is time to prepare the Called and Gifted for translation into other languages so I need to get the original English text as perfectly honed as possible.
I will also be writing a new book in 2016 on the fruits of discipleship– including the charisms – and the river of apostolic creativity, love, and vocations that flows from discipleship and changes the life of the Church and the world. I’ll be sharing more on the new book in future issues of the Siena Scribe. In addition, the Institute has seen some important goings and comings since 2009.
Departing (accompanied by my fond memories and deep gratitude), was Fr. Mike Fones, OP, who was made student master of Western Dominican Province in 2011 and who, in July 2015, became pastor of a parish in Los Angeles. His absence from our staff is still his presence in spirit since he is now seeking to use, as pastor, all that we have been learning about making disciples!
At the arrival gate are two hugely important people. The first is Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, who is back at the Institute he co-founded with me after serving eleven years as President at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Oakland, California. Fr. Michael brings his unique blend of erudition, Thomistic savvy, pastoral wisdom and Canadian Irish wit and charm to our work once again.
In addition, the Siena Institute hired the pastorally savvy and highly experienced Katherine Coolidge in July 2014 to be Called and Gifted Coordinator. She oversees all Called and Gifted workshops, including all our traveling and regional teachers and trainers. Better still, now she is my new neighbor! She and her husband moved to Colorado Springs from Los Angeles and arrived here Christmas Eve, which was the best present I got this Christmas! Katherine will be share a bit more about herself and her work below.
Two final things:
First, there is now a Forming Intentional Disciples Facebook Forum! We have 5400 members from all over the world and are growing steadily. It's a very active group that is focused on one thing: How do we proclaim Christ and make disciples of people from all walks of life, baptized and unbaptized? We welcome anybody serious about evangelization, especially at the parish level, to join us. To join, please go to: Forming Intentional Disciples Facebook Forum ask to "Join" and a Forum administrator will admit you. Forming Intentional Disciples is the backdrop for all our conversations so reading FID is highly recommended for all members.
Finally, our popular Making Disciples Seminar will be held 7,000 foot high on the edge of the Pike National Forest in beautiful Colorado Springs on July17-21, 2016. This is our updated version of the training seminar on evangelizing 21st century people at the parish level. Making Disciples is designed for leaders at all levels: pastors, diocesan and parish staff, and lay leaders. Space is very limited. (50 people) and it fills up fast, so strike while the iron is hot! For more information, go here. Please read Forming Intentional Disciples before you come because it will help you get much more out of our time together! To attend this year’s seminar please go to Making Disciples Seminar July 17 - 21, 2016.
Here Begins the New Life
by Katherine Coolidge
Called and Gifted Coordinator
It is hard to believe that fifteen years ago, I attended my first Called and Gifted workshop at my parish in Florida. I and several dozen fellow parishioners listened intently to the voices emanating from a cassette playing on the “boombox”. These strangers - a Sherry and a Fr. Michael, - talked of Church teaching that was new to us: there is such a thing as a lay office; that by our baptism we have received gifts called charisms; that discernment is not just for those called to priesthood or religious life but for the laity as well. For many of us lay folk, the fact that God could use us to be agents of his love and provision in the world was something very new indeed. I, for one, could not have imagined the journey God had for me that would eventually lead me back to Colorado--and to work with the Catherine of Siena Institute!
Over the past eighteen months, I have had the privilege to read and hear hundreds of similar stories of dramatic encounters with the Church's teaching--and of the amazing grace and change resulting from it! Such stories range from the ordinary to the extraordinary. I think of the couple who, after a period of discernment, saw how they were called to exercise a mutual charism of hospitality, opening their home to children in need. That is just one of the experiences of over 100,000 Catholics in dioceses and parishes throughout the world who have experienced the Called and Gifted discernment process.
We receive weekly inquiries from parishioners and pastoral leaders asking how they can bring Called and Gifted to parishes and dioceses all over the world. In the past two years, teams have emerged as collaborators from all over the globe:
1) Two teams were established in the British Isles in 2014 one in Armagh, Ireland and one in Portsmouth, England.
2) We have a new relationship with a parish in Tijuana Mexico served by the priests of the Missionaries of Charity.
3) New teachers have joined our traveling team, including several who serve the Spanish-speaking communities. This has allowed us to offer several concurrent English/Spanish workshops in the diocese of Sacramento, CA.
With the publication of Forming Intentional Disciples, the interest in Called and Gifted workshops continues to grow. While the core content will remain the same, there is a need to update our materials to reflect new developments. New technologies exist today that were not available in the late 90’s. The needs of our collaborators in the field and parishes we serve are also at the forefront of the revision process. We are considering how best to use these technologies to support these efforts, particularly in remote or impoverished areas.
Please pray for us as we prepare to open this new chapter in this work of our apostolate.
God bless you and thank you for your support!
Called and Gifted Coordinator
Catherine of Siena website Please remember to sign up early for Making Disciples 2016! Register