Siena E-Scribe, Newsletter of the Catherine of Siena Institute, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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May 2007
In This Issue

New and Improved! Making Disciples
Sherry and Fr. Mike have been working on a new four-day workshop that will help parishes focus on the essential task of forming disciples of Jesus Christ. It will be energetic, informative, interactive and practical and may be just the seminar your parish staff needs to help create a vibrant, mission-oriented parish community.

Building Intentional Community in the Parish
Most Catholic parishes would qualify as "mega-churches" in the Protestant world, with parishioners typically numbering around 3,000 on average. If you have desired personal support and deeper relationships with your fellow parishioners, but didn't know where to start, consider coming to a day-long workshop in the shadow of Pike's Peak this summer. You'll be able to learn from the experience of others, and consider ways to build community in your own parish.

Parenting in Crisis: the Cost of Unintentionality
Our youth these days are receiving a formation, and it's often not from their parents or the Church. George Barna, author of Revolutionary Parenting, cites some unsettling trends.

An Example of Intentional Parenting
Fr. Mike's friends, Pam and Andy Lambros have a great marriage and five wonderful children. How do they do it? Here's an example of one way they are passing on the faith and nurturing their domestic church.

On the Web

The Barna Group
If you are interested in trends in Christianity in the U.S., or like to peruse polls that indicate what Americans think about a variety of topics, you might really enjoy this link!

Intentional Disciples
The group blog of the Catherine of Siena Institute has over 600 posts already! If you are interested in a daily challenge to follow Jesus more closely, you might want to look for inspiration at I.D.!

Take Your Place
is a dynamic blog written by Keith Strohm, one of our very gifted Institute teachers. His blog aims to explore the intersection of culture and the lay apostolate to which all baptized Christians have been called. For Keith, the daily question is, "what does it mean to live as lay apostles in the new millennium?"

Catholic Conference on Discipleship
If you live in South Texas, you might be interested in this one-day conference, June 16, 2007 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Richardson Auditorium of Del Mar College. Speakers will include Ralph Martin, Marcos Chau, Gerardo Hernandez, Fr. Alfredo Gaytan, Fr. Eduardo Montemayor, and sessions will be simultaneously translated in English and Spanish.

The Paulist National Catholic Evangelization Association website has information and online courses to help you have a more evangelizing parish, and discover how other parishes are carrying out the evangelizing mission. They also have a newsletter called, the Evangelization Exchange that might give you some ideas of how you can bring Christ to others.

Making Disciples

This is a workshop for pastors, parish staff, and other lay leaders who would like to explore how to foster a culture of intentional discipleship and discernment in their parishes. The formation provided will help participants learn how to evangelize parishioners who will then worship, pray, give, study their faith, and discern God's call for them out of a loving relationship with Christ.
Cost for either venue:
Commuter (training + meals only)    $545 per person
On-site (training, room + meals)    $695 per person
For information or to make reservations, contact Mike Dillon at the Institute office.

July 29 - August 2, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO

Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: The Franciscan Retreat Center, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies just north of Colorado Springs at 6500 ft. elevation. The Retreat Center provides panoramic views of the Rampart Range and the Pikes Peak region.

November 4-8, 2007
Faulkner, MD
Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: Loyola Retreat Center. Enjoy the splendor of autumn color in scenic Maryland, 35 miles south of the Washington, D.C. metro area. There are 235 acres of woodlands laced with numerous paths for all to enjoy. With its woods, riverfront beach, and the spectacular sunsets over the Potomac, Loyola has offered thousands of retreatants the opportunity and means of experiencing the joy and serenity of God's presence. Please note that this is a change of venue, but the same dates, for this workshop.

Building Intentional Community

August 31, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO

A national gathering of laity and clergy interested in improving community life in our parishes. Held at the beautiful and historic Penrose House from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and concluding with a festive picnic at a nearby park.

For additional information, take a look at this article on our blog, Intentional Disciples. If you are interested, or if you have questions regarding the event or hotel accomodations, please call or e-mail Mike Dillon at (888) 878-6789.

Colorado Springs has a small airport, but you can also drive from Denver International Airport, just a short 90 minutes away via freeway. Rental cars at the Colorado Springs airport and local hotels are relatively inexpensive.

Called & Gifted Workshops

May 11-12, 2007
Knoxville, TN
(Diocese of Knoxville)
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

CONTACT: Marian Howard, Director of Adult Formation, or the parish office at (865) 522-1508.

May 18-19, 2007
Orange County, CA
(Diocese of Orange, CA)
CONTACT: Nancy Hardy, Director of Parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange, at (714) 282-3062

June 15-16, 2007
Bloomingdale, IL
(Diocese of Joliet, IL)
St. Isidore Catholic Church

CONTACT: Barbara Tillman, or the parish office at (630) 529-3045.

Modesto CA
(Diocese of Stockton)
St Joseph Catholic Church

CONTACT: Susie Dickert, Director of Parish Events, or the parish office at (209) 551-4973.

Interviewer Training

Learn how to help others (as individuals or in small groups) to discern their charisms.
* Basic listening skills and spiritual maturity (best if practicing Christian for 2 years prior)
* Must have attended live Called & Gifted workshop or listened to CDs or audio tapes, took Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, did some personal discernment, had a one-on-one personal Gifts Interview.

June 15-16, 2007
Libertyville, IL
(Archdiocese of Chicago)
CONTACT: Sue Lehocky, Pastoral Associate/Director of Stewardship at St Joseph parish at (847) 990-1212.

Teacher Training

June 8-10, 2007
Cedar Rapids, IA
(Archdiocese of Dubuque)
St. Joseph Catholic Church

A training workshop to prepare teachers to present the Called & Gifted workshop within the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
PREREQUISITE: Attend and successfully complete the Institute's Interviewer & Facilitator Training workshop.
CONTACT: Mike Dillon at the Institute office (719) 219-0056 or e-mail Mike.

June 15-17, 2007
Santa Clarita, CA
(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church
A training workshop to prepare teachers to present the Called & Gifted workshop for the Catherine of Siena Institute.
PREREQUISITE: Attend and successfully complete the Institute's Interviewer & Facilitator Training workshop.CONTACT: Mike Dillon at the Institute office (719) 219-0056 or e-mail Mike.

July 13-15, 2007
Libertyville, IL
(Archdiocese of Chicago)
St. Joseph Catholic Church

A training workshop to prepare teachers to present the Called & Gifted workshop for the Catherine of Siena Institute.
PREREQUISITE: Attend and successfully complete the Institute's Interviewer & Facilitator Training workshop.
CONTACT: Mike Dillon at the Institute office (719) 219-0056 or e-mail Mike.

Support the Institute

The Catherine of Siena Institute is a religious non-profit with 501C-3 status. We receive no financial support from any diocese or from the Western Dominican Province, but are entirely self-supporting. Your donations and gifts-in-kind are essential to our ongoing operations. To learn how you can help us, please contact our Development Officer, Mr. George Martelon at (303) 847-7052.

Thank You

Once again, thank you to Anna Elias-Cesnik and Patricia Mees Armstrong for their help in editing this edition of the e-Scribe. Fr. Paul Wicker continues to open his home to Fr. Mike when he's in Colorado Springs. Col.Liz Anderson continues to let Fr. Mike to use her second car while he's in the Springs. She also keeps him supplied with meal replacement bars. They are much appreciated when he's on the road! Finally, Col. Anderson came through for the Institute again, supplying us with packing peanuts when we were running short.


New and Improved! Making Disciples
by Sherry Weddell, Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

Intentional discipleship is a term in widening use to describe the kind of Christian life that seeks an ever-deeper maturity in faith and an ever-increasing ability to be effective in shining the light of the Gospel into the world at large. Intentional disciples donate generously to their parish. As parents, they actively pass on the faith to their children. They eagerly fill faith formation classes, and become ministry leaders who begin exciting pastoral initiatives. They discern vocations to priesthood and religious life. Their work and participation in secular society is shaped by their Christian world view.

The church exists and grows because of the presence of intentional disciples.

If you’re reading this, you either are one or are curious about becoming one.

Curiosity is the first stage for everyone. But then what? How do we, in our parish communities create opportunities to recognize intentional disciples-in-waiting? How do we, for ourselves and others, create opportunities to move forward along the progression from curiosity to a deep, committed, radiant Christian life?

When Jesus asked Simon to “come, follow me,” Simon did not drop his nets and set off after Jesus across Palestine for the next three years accidentally.  He did not become St. Peter unconsciously.  Neither will the next generation of practicing Catholics, priests, religious, and lay leaders emerge accidentally or unconsciously

The non-negotiable foundation for Christian maturity and vocation today as it was for St. Peter, is intentional discipleship.  And the key to intentional discipleship is a critical part of catechesis that seldom happens in the Catholic community: pre-evangelization and the initial proclamation of Christ that asks for a deliberate personal response.

loyolaTo help parishes build this essential foundation, the Catherine of Siena Institute is offering a new four-day seminar called Making Disciples twice in 2007. One seminar will be held in Colorado Springs in the summer, and the other will be held in Maryland in early November. Please note that the location for the fall workshop has changed! We were bumped from our West Virginia venue in early May, but located a wonderful new site on the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House.

Designed for pastors, directors of evangelization, religious education directors, adult faith formation leaders, vocation directors, spiritual directors and catechists, Making Disciples is a four-day seminar that will help you:

  • Understand intentional discipleship, that it is the normative source of spiritual life, and thus the foundation of all pastoral ministry.
  • Understand why initial discipleship precedes catechesis and how life-changing catechesis builds on discipleship.
  • Learn how to listen for and recognize pre-discipleship stages of spiritual growth. 
  • Learn how to facilitate the spiritual growth of those, baptized or not, who are not yet disciples. 
  • Discover ways of articulating the basic Gospel message that awakens initial faith in a gentle and non-threatening way.
  • Explore how to use these skills in a wide variety of pastoral settings: RCIA/inquiry, adult faith formation, sacramental preparation, spiritual direction or pastoral counseling and gifts discernment.
  • Prayerfully reflect on your own journey of discipleship.

For more information, see the advertisement for Making Disciples on the sidebar to the left. We hope to see you in cool, sunny Colorado in the summer or in Maryland in the peak of autumn glory!

Building Intentional Community in the Parish
by Sherry Weddell, Co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute

One of the comments we hear repeatedly from people around the country concerns the need for stronger connections among Catholics in our parish communities. The lack of community support is one of the reasons "fallen away" Catholics say they no longer participate in their local parishes or have joined local Evangelical churches. A rather extensive discussion on this topic was held over several days on several blogs, including the Institute's blog, Intentional Disciples. To read them, click post 1, post 2, and post 3. In these posts you will learn about the genesis of an intentional community that sprang up at Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle, WA, known simply as, the Nameless Lay Group.

Drawing on some of the experiences of intentional community that I and others had in the Nameless Lay Group, the Catherine of Siena Institute is sponsoring a day-long gathering on the subject of building intentional community in our parishes. The discussion will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, August 31, the day before Labor Day Weekend. We will also discuss attempts made in parishes around the country to foster intentional community. We would like to hear your ideas and learn from your experiences as well.

Our day together will be spent at the beautiful Penrose House at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. Lunch will be provided, and the day will end with an evening barbecue starting at 6 p.m. at a nearby city park. Penrose

This will be your chance to get to know some of the bloggers who contribute to Intentional Disciples, including Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., Sherry Curp, (a.k.a. "the other Sherry" on the blog), Kathie Lundquist, and me. In addition, Mark Shea and his family, some of the orignial members of the Nameless Lay Group, will be joining the festivities!

To cover the cost of meals and the other expenses of hosting this day, we are asking for a donation of $40 per participant for the whole day. Unfortunately, because there are no child care facilities on the Penrose House grounds, and because the Institute cannot provide child care, the gathering at the Penrose House is an adult-only event. There are many child-friendly attractions in the Colorado Springs area, and a few are described here. People of all ages are welcome to the barbeque. The cost for adults and teenagers to attend the barbecue only is $20 and for children under 12 to attend the barbecue only is $10.

We do need you to pre-register for this event by August 1 so we can make the appropriate arrangements. Let us know as early as possible, since our meeting space, the old Coach house, holds only a limited number of people.


Parenting in Crisis: the Cost of Unintentionality
by Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

George Barna, in a reflection on the Virginia Tech shooting, cites a number of chilling facts about parenting and the state of parenthood today that reflect the type of unintentional formation that our children receive in this country. He points out that:

-"By the time an American child is 23 years old, as was the killer in Virginia, he will have seen countless murders among the more than 30,000 acts of violence to which he is exposed through television, movies and video games.

-By the age of 23, the average American will have viewed thousands of hours of pornographic images, which diminish the dignity and value of human life.

-After nearly a quarter century on earth, the typical American will have listened to hundreds of hours of music that foster anger, hatred, disrespect for authority, selfishness, and radical independence.

-Largely propelled by postmodern thought, the typical world view of young people does not facilitate respect for life, acceptance of the rule of law, or the necessity of hard work, personal sacrifice, paying the dues or contributing to the common good.

-The average adolescent spends more than 40 hours each week digesting media, and the typical teenager in America absorbs almost 60 hours of media content each week. For better or worse, the messages received from the media represent a series of unfiltered, unchaperoned world view lessons.

-It appears that as many as one out of every five young people is or has been under the influence of mood-altering medications, some of which havelong-term side effects not fully understood by the medical community. Drugging children has become one of the ways in which we have coped with other issues.

-Stress levels have been steadily rising among young children over the past couple of decades. A variety of factors have contributed to such stress, including parental acrimony and divorce, household financial troubles, media-fed expectations regarding materialism, overscheduling of children, bullying, physical abuse within the home, and excessive peer pressure.

-One-third of the nation’s teenagers report having been in a physical fight at least once in the last year. Nearly one out of every five 9th through 12th grade students has carried a gun, knife or club in the past month.

-Education, both in the home and outside of it, provides diminishing emphasis upon the development of character, and increasing emphasis upon meeting academic performance standards, especially through standardized testing.

-Growing numbers of children seek to make their way through an increasingly complex life without the traditional safety net comprised of a loving and supportive family, a stable circle of supportive peers, teachers who know and help nurture the child, and a community of faith that assists in giving meaning to life and a sense of belonging.

-Most young people admit that they feel as if they do not receive sufficient attention from their parents; do not have good friends on whom they can count; are unsettled about their own future; have personal spiritual perspectives but not much of a sense of spiritual community; lack role models; and do not feel that they have intrinsic value."

A few weeks ago I participated in a weekend retreat for high school students. During the weekend I had the opportunity to be an attentive ear to a few of them. I was amazed at the kinds of issues they have to face these days, many of which are outlined above. So much has changed in the thirty years since I graduated from high school. The need for parents to form their children is always great, but that need seems to be particularly acute today.

While at a barbecue with some friends a week ago, a young woman told me a little about some of the disciplinary struggles she faces with the second graders she teaches. They all come from poor families, most of whom receive some kind of assistance from welfare. I was stunned, however when she told me that only two of her students live in a household with two parents! Single parents, especially with multiple children, may find it difficult to spend as much time with their children as they would like. Meanwhile, children who spend time alone with divorced parents may receive conflicting messages about behavior and discipline.

While the lives of teens are becoming more complex, parents are facing more and more pressure in their own lives, as outlined in Barna's article. "A majority of parents feel overly busy, stressed out or are buckling under the pressure of mounting financial debt. Most adults are dissatisfied with their job, even though it consumes a majority of their waking hours. American parents tend to blame other parents for the problems evident among today’s young people while excusing themselves from any blame."

Parents in general today believe they are doing an acceptable job of parenting as long as their children are relatively healthy, get passing grades, and avoid problems like substance abuse, pregnancy, involvement in gangs, satanic activity, and unruly physical aggression. In other words, the bar many parents are setting for their children is not only low when it comes to matters of faith, but with regard to general social behavior, as well.

In addition, parents are blissfully ignorant about how the media their children absorb affect their behavior and values. "Just 9% of parents believe that the media are the most significant influence on their children’s lives, and only one out of every three parents of kids under thirteen impose any significant restrictions or limitations on how much or what type of media to which their children are exposed. Shockingly, few parents have discussions with their children about the content of the media they have digested."

Sadly, fewer than one out of every ten families have parents who pray together, study the Bible together and lead the family in regular explorations of their faith. I remember asking couples preparing for marriage, or Catholic couples seeking marriage counseling, "Do you pray together at all?" Often, the reply was, "Well, we say grace before meals together..." With all the struggles parents face today, a conscious decision to ask God for guidance, patience and an increase in all the virtues would be a healthy step in the right direction! What are parents to do? The next article examines what one Catholic family does.


An Example of Intentional Parenting

by Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

I spent Good Friday with a family that is very dear to me. I've known Pam and Andy since I was first ordained. They were the "young couple" at the first Engaged Encounter weekend in which I participated, and at age 28, they had already been married nine years. We hit it off so well that they asked me within a few weeks if I would join them as part of the regional leadership team of Engaged Encounter for Arizona and Utah - even though I'd only experienced one weekend! I said, "Yes," only because I found them so enjoyable.

Pam 'n' AndyWe have been friends since, and I am the godfather of their eleven-year old son, Jacob. Pam and Andy are also the parents of Melissa (age 20), Kyle (18), Zachary (16) and Grace (9), all of whom have received or are receiving their grammar and high school education at local Catholic schools.

Pam and Andy invited me to join them on a Good Friday family retreat with their children, and since I hadn't seen them since Christmas, I readily agreed. I drove up to Phoenix the morning of Good Friday, arriving at their doorstep at 7:15 a.m. A few minutes later Andy returned home after finishing his shift as a firefighter in Chandler, AZ. We loaded up the van, picked up Melissa, who lives in a house with another college student, and headed out to the desert.

I didn't know quite what to expect, beside a hike. What I experienced was a glimpse of how I believe the Church imagines Catholic family life should be - a domestic church.

We drove to a county park about thirty minutes from their home, slapped on some sunscreen, filled our water bottles, and headed out on a short 1.5 mile hike. Andy instructed each of us to find a stick along the trail that in some way symbolized us. When we returned to the trailhead, we sat around a picnic table and each of us described some aspect of ourselves based on the random sticks we'd found on the hike.

One by one, starting with Pam and Andy, each individual talked about themselves while Lambros hikeholding their small stick. Some spoke of how a bend in a branch represented a time the individual had strayed from "the narrow way," or of how the sharp buds of branches on one stick were irritating, like the stick's possessor could be at times. It was amazing to hear the members of this family be so vulnerable in front of each other. Pam cried as she described the small branch she'd found with five smaller branches, each further subdivided, spreading out from the main branch. Each of them represented one of her children, who would soon be leaving her and Andy's side to start their own families. So much of her life has gone into attending to her children, sharing her faith with them. Sometimes, she said, she feels diminished by the project of raising children, and realizes that that feeling comes from remnants of self-centeredness.

Although they are not perfect, Pam and Andy are like John the Baptist, decreasing so their children can increase. I pointed out that their children, so good, so compassionate, so grounded in faith, will each have their own positive effect on other people and the institutions of which they become a part. They are being formed as people who are "for others," and the witness of their parents is the foundation of that formation.

I chose the skeletal remains of a teddy bear cholla (a particularly nasty cactus) and said that it represented more of how I want to be than how I am. I want to cooperate with God in letting him remove my prickly exterior, and be able to be "seen through" the way one can see through the gaps in the cholla's skeleton.

After we described ourselves based on the stick, we were instructed to break the stick in half. When I did that, a little mound of dirt fell out of my cholla, at which point one of the adolescent boys piped up, "I guess that means you're full of cr*p, Fr. Mike."

I don't know why the others laughed.

Andy gathered all the broken sticks together and tied them with string while Pam explained that Christ is like the string that holds us all together. Even though it is not too difficult to break a single stick, when all our broken pieces are tied together by Christ, we are strong.

A simple message, clearly illustrated, and one that will stick with me (no pun intended) a long time.

After a small lunch we were each given notepads and pencil and invited to think of some affirmation that could be given to each person in the family, as well as a brief memory of an event involving that person. They were kind enough to include me in this exercise! Twenty minutes later we regrouped, and again I was deeply moved as I observed this family, whose interactions are so often marked by good-natured teasing and competition, dive wholeheartedly into an intimacy that most families avoid except at funerals. How many children get to hear their parents affirm their love for each other, and tell an endearing anecdote from their life together? How many adolescent brothers and sisters tell each other something positive, without sarcasm, and with genuine appreciation? When do we listen to the youngest member of the family and treasure the contribution they make to our life?

The whole event took less than four hours, and cost Pam and Andy a $5 park use fee and a few dollars of gas. Yet it was a blessed time of tears and gut-busting laughter, of memories re-lived and new memories made - a glimpse of the the joy of heaven the gates of which are opened by the cross-shaped key of the Son of David.

Pam and Andy are intentionally forming their children in the faith. They speak of their relationship with Christ with their children, and have since they were old enough to understand. Faith enriches the life of this family, and has been a part of daily life as long as I've known them. Sometimes the faith was expressed in simple gestures, like the parents making the sign of the cross on a child on his or her way to school, or the children blessing their parents as they prepared to work on an Engaged Encounter weekend. Even the decision of when and how to discipline the children - and for what reasons - was the result of careful study, discussion, and prayer on the part of Pam and Andy.

Did all of this take a lot of time and effort? You bet. As wonderful as those five children are, they have all had their moments in which they disappointed or aggravated their parents. And there have been times when Pam or Andy have had to apologize to their children for their own mistakes. That's part of the beauty of this family. They have learned to ask and receive forgiveness.

Is the effort worth it? Are the sacrifices these two parents have made paying off? I do not believe it's too early to say, without a doubt, absolutely!


The Catherine of Siena Institute is affiliated with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California