Inspiration: Pope Francis has said, “The Holy Spirit also enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms. These gifts are meant to renew and build up the Church. They are not an inheritance, safely secured and entrusted to a small group for safekeeping; rather they are gifts of the Spirit integrated into the body of the Church, drawn to the center which is Christ and then channeled into an evangelizing impulse.” (EG, 130)
Introduction: Imagine a parish community where all of the laity have discovered and are using their spiritual gifts and direct them authentically to the heart of the Gospel. We might find that we will have parish communities guided by the Holy Spirit, living in communion, to be mysteriously fruitful. (EG, 130)
How can we accomplish this? The Offices of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry and Stewardship and Mission Advancement of the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, have collaborated to bring Formation for Mission and Ministry to yet another group in our parish—Stewardship Representatives from each parish.
Retreats are beginning in the fifth year of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry’s “Formation for Mission and Ministry Seminar.” Those parish representatives attending these seminars will be able to return to their home parishes and train other leaders to offer retreats and other resources to our parishes.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
1. “Formed to Live Joyfully” Retreat
An engaging full-day retreat has been developed which includes Church’s teachings, use of media, small group and large group activities, as well as a Spiritual Gifts discernment tool: Uniquely His. Uniquely His is a valuable discernment tool designed to help any baptized Christian (8th Grade or older) into the discernment process of identifying their personal vocation and charisms. By the end of this retreat, participants will have an indication of their unique spiritual gifts. Discovery of one’s spiritual gifts is a wonderful beginning upon which to build. However, it is important to test any findings you have been given through further study, prayer, evaluation and confirmation, individually and through community. To that end, we recommend participants also take advantage of the following additional resources developed to aid in the continuing journey of discernment.
2. Spiritual Direction/Mentoring
For participants who wish to seek assistance in further exploring their spiritual gifts, monthly meetings and/or phone/zoom conversations with Certified Catholic Spiritual Directors are available by reviewing the state-wide list of these spiritual directors.
Spiritual Direction is a way of appreciating and responding to your life’s journey in the light of our Lord’s life and love. It is when one Christian is trained to be a guide who then “companions” another person, listening to that person’s life story with an ear for the movement of the Holy, of the Divine. As you continue to grow spiritually and emotionally, it is often helpful to talk to someone about how to integrate all of these experiences into a life of faith. A spiritual director is a companion who is willing to listen and talk about your journey – its joys and its concerns. You enter into a conversation and a trusting relationship in which the director helps you notice and respond to the movement of God as experienced in prayer and in the events of everyday life.
3. Small-Group Discussion
The support of a small group in a parish community following the Spiritual Gifts Discernment Retreat would prove helpful to aid those who wish to further discover and develop their gifts, while also contributing to an overall communal spirit of congregational ministry. To assist in this continuing discussion, please make a four-week Spiritual Gifts Discernment Journal (Gospel of Mark), which includes prayer, Scripture, and questions for discussion available to parishioners.