Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's a Called & Gifted Workshop Like?

If you've wondered what a Called & Gifted Workshop is Like, you might click on the title of this post and read a description of the Friday evening portion from the Catholic Explorer. It includes some comments from participants, as well as quotes from the presentation given by Barbara Elliott and Keith Strohm, the teachers of that weekend. The workshop was held at St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale, IL, June 15-16.

When asked why she was attending the workshop, Connie Biala of Winfield, a parishioner at St. Isidore, said she was searching for answers.

“I have been troubled and want to know what I am here for,” Biala said of her time on earth. “I am still searching for what God wants for me to give back.

“God has been so good to me,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “I want to give back but I want to know what I can do. I already minister to the sick, but I feel I can do more.”

The 72-year-old registered nurse said she works in an operating room and doesn’t appreciate that some doctors think “they are God and rule the operating room.”

“I don’t work for the doctors, I work with the doctors. I work for God, but I don’t know how to let the doctors realize this,” Biala explained. “I want them to learn to love their coworkers and not look down on us. I am hoping to find out how to be able to do better. How do I bring love to my coworkers as well as to the patients? We are supposed to be here to love each other and maybe we can do better.”

As apostles of Christ, all Catholics are capable of changing, even a small portion, of the world.

“People encounter Jesus through us because of the things we have done,” Elliott told the audience. “We are, in a sense, ambassadors of Christ. If everyone looked at it this way, literally, can you imagine what the world would be like?”

Fr. Mike: People come to Called & Gifted workshops for many reasons. Some are returning to the Church, others are in between jobs, or are young adults wondering what their call in life is. Still others are in major transitions: enduring a divorce, mourning the loss of a parent or child, moving to a new location. Many of these people are consciously open to the grace God offers us daily, and the effects of the workshop are powerful as a consequence. People's lives are changed, and that, really, is a more interesting question - "what is the effect of a Called & Gifted workshop?"

If you've been to one, you might let us know what was the effect on your life.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

A quick hello...

Amidst all the discussions surrounding Intentional Disciples over the past few days, you may have noticed that another name was quietly added to the list of contributors: Br. Matthew Augustine, OP. That’s me. A little about myself: I’m a Dominican friar of the Western Province and am studying toward priesthood. Currently I’m living at St. Albert Priory in Oakland while attending school at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. Before entering the Dominicans four years ago I had only the faintest idea what the Catherine of Siena Institute was and what it did. A friend had taken the Called and Gifted Workshop and, over coffee and desert at a Denny’s somewhere in the greater Seattle area, I and some other friends quickly glanced over the materials she had brought back with her. Given that I was going through the confusing process of discerning a religious vocation at the time, the last thing I wanted was more discernment. The material nevertheless looked interesting and my friend was clearly enthusiastic about her experience. I made a mental note to look into it later. ‘Later’ turned out to be shortly after I had entered the Dominican Order. Having learned that the CSI was a ministry of my Province (it was co-founded by Sherry and one of our friars, Fr Michael Sweeney), I picked up the Called and Gifted tape set and listened to it every day as I went jogging around Oakland. I was totally riveted by what I heard and was probably lucky I didn’t get struck by a car. I had never heard the Church’s teaching regarding the laity articulated before. Drawing primarily from the Documents of Vatican II and from the pontificate of John Paul II, Sherry and Fr. Michael gave a powerful account of the dignity and importance of the lay vocation and apostolate. Given that I may someday be teaching and helping form lay people, I sensed that I should know this material better. I consulted the documents referenced in the workshop and began my own study of the theology of the laity by way of one of the great Dominican theologians of the last century, Yves Congar. Next, having met Fr. Michael and Sherry, I volunteered to help teach the workshop and have been doing so, off and on, over the past couple years. I am excited to be a contributor to Intentional Disciples and hope that my voice adds to the ongoing dialogue here. There is much to explore and discuss.

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