Raleigh, North Carolina
Roman Catholic Church
Guiding theological question: What does one’s baptism mean, and what are its real implications for our lives as baptized Christians? This is a question that is especially critical to explore among those baptized in infancy, who largely remain unevangelized and are increasingly uncatechized.
Guiding Scripture passage: Acts 2:22 – 41, the original proclamation of the kerygma by Peter at Pentecost.
Signs of change:
The 10 high-priority focus areas identified during last year’s Leadership Summit continue to inform the work of the Pastoral Council. These focus areas were highlighted in a brief report that councilors prepared for the new pastor to offer insights into the history, people, programs, and social concerns of our faith community. They also surfaced in the first meeting between Msgr. Michael Clay, the new pastor, and the Pastoral Council. At this meeting, councilors reiterated their commitment to lifting up concerns of the broader parish—many of which were captured during the Summit—in their work as an advisory body.
The Called & Gifted facilitators who were trained earlier this year have been energized and empowered to walk alongside fellow parishioners who are discerning their charisms. Participants in the pilot program have been similarly enthusiastic about continuing their work with facilitators, conducting gifts interviews and experimentation—two subsequent phases of Called & Gifted. In this way, we are beginning to build a team of individuals equipped with the necessary language and tools to facilitate calling and discernment efforts on a larger scale.
Our new pastor has endeavored to understand the purpose of CCI, as well as our history with the initiative, and has proposed opportunities for complementing and grounding the work we’ve completed thus far. Further, he has recommended strategies for integrating CCI-related efforts into different facets of the parish, including faith formation and liturgy. Msgr. Clay’s appreciation for the desired outcomes of CCI, and his full participation in imagining how to achieve those outcomes, constitute a very promising sign of change for our congregation.
Year 2 Activities
- Develop and create 10 educational modules that focus on foundational aspects of contemporary first evangelization (the kerygma).
- Refine educational modules and garner buy-in from key stakeholders by inviting feedback from Called & Gifted pilot participants and the pastoral staff.
- Plan a “launch” event or rollout of the educational modules to the larger parish community that engages an outside knowledge expert as well as the CCI core team, Called & Gifted pilot participants, and pastoral staff.
Year 1 Learnings
- Often, forces outside our control prompt reevaluation of our callings. In the past year, the Friars’ departure and the pandemic challenged us to think differently about how we are called to “be church” in this moment, as well as what kind of church we will be as we begin another chapter under new leadership.
- We need to ensure that all members of our community have a foundational understanding of calling—and its theological underpinnings within our Catholic Christian faith—before introducing the discernment of charisms.
- Our parishioners are primed for the transformative experiences of learning about their baptismal call and discerning charisms. In turn, these experiences can engender a renewed sense of evangelization within our parish. One of our Called & Gifted pilot participant’s reflections on participation in the program serves as a strong example:
Recently, I participated in the Called & Gifted program, which is about discerning one’s charisms—special gifts of the Holy Spirit related to one’s mission in the Church and society. I was a little skeptical at first. As a psych student and businessperson, I have taken plenty of questionnaires and tests over the years that have added dozens of ways I can categorize myself.
I found the [Called & Gifted] workshops interesting and informative, but also necessary to prepare me for the best part—my [gifts] interview with Deb Royals-Mizerk. Suddenly, a lot of different things began falling into place, like cracking the code to a puzzle. Baptismal call –> Holy Spirit –> Confirmation –> Practicing charisms before I had a word for them –> Talking through them with a trained facilitator –> Hearing what she heard –> Recognizing that others may have an easier time seeing your gifts than you do.
Whether you’re a cradle Catholic, a convert, neither, or just curious, I need to make sure you’ve heard this, plain and simple: At Baptism, you become part of the body of Christ and you are given gifts by the Holy Spirit. At Confirmation, the Holy Spirit strengthens the gifts you’ve been given, and you have everything you need to go forth and make disciples. You have been given superpowers (charisms) to love others as God loves you.
Resources Developed by Saint Francis
- Leadership Summit visioning retreat with graphic recorder Tim Foss
- Programming around the Called & Gifted series
Recommended Prayer & Study Resources
- Pre-meeting prayer — prayed at the start of Stewardship Committee meetings:
As Franciscans we implore you heavenly Father to send your Holy Spirit into our hearts and home here – the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi. Transform and enable us to respond to your love in our lives. Help us to build peace and justice, bringing the joy of the Gospel to all people and places. May God bless our work here so that we might make a difference in this house and in the world. Amen
- Closing prayer — prayed at the conclusion of Stewardship Committee meetings:
Open our hearts and minds to the blessings of life, faith and resources:
Come Holy Spirit!
Guide us as we walk the ways of discipleship:
Come Holy Spirit!
Make us faithful stewards of all we are, have, and will be:
Come Holy Spirit!
Give us courage to serve boldly and with compassion:
Come Holy Spirit!
Strengthen our faith as we grow more deeply in relationship with Christ and one another
Come Holy Spirit!
Enliven us in your presence:
Come Holy Spirit!
For You Are God with the Father and Son, now and forever.
Come Holy Spirit, Come!
- Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell. Particularly resonating were the following quotes about mid-book: “living curiously means more than being ‘nice.’ It requires that we think and act in Kingdom-oriented and countercultural ways in our daily lives.” It goes on to discuss one of the ways of doing that by saying: “speaking the truth in love, honoring others with our words, living in healthy relationships, caring for the poor, sharing possessions, freely praying for healing and provision, and even simple family prayer times can be startling countercultural witnesses.” As we continue to transition forward, our hope is that we can be better than “nice” and “freely pray for healing and provision.”
Share one story of your congregation living out your mission:
Our mission statement describes us beautifully:
Inspired by our patron Francis of Assisi,
We seek to proclaim the reign of God by
growing in Holiness
through our experience of Christ
in word, sacrament, and one another,
to those who hunger for human dignity, and
Living out this mission finds particular resonance regarding a member of our family. In 1985, our parishioner, Jeff Meyer, was indicted for murder. Our community could have closed a door to this family but instead we began to pray for Jeff, his family and for all victims of violence.
Since that time our friars have continued to minister to Jeff over the years as well as to the many men who sit on North Carolina’s death row. We have fought for reform of the death penalty in multiple ways including theatrical productions like A Lesson Before Dying or Still Life, an exploration of a killing state, North Carolina (this piece was based on two years’ worth of ethnographic work that was laser focused on the many different perspectives of the death penalty and its repercussions on all of us). These productions included discussions and opportunities for growth regarding the consequences of using the death penalty as a part of state legislated punishment here in our state. Additionally, we have a Pen Pal Ministry for parishioners to correspond with prisoners.
Jeff, too, has become a minister within prison. With Jeff as their sponsor, many prisoners were baptized and confirmed on death row by Bishop Joe Gossman. Jeff continues to be a part of a bible study group, growing and sharing faith with those who live with him on North Carolina’s death row.