Opportunities to grow, share in the faith

| Susan Klemond | September 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
Steve Lentz of St. Hubert in Chanhassen

Steve Lentz of St. Hubert in Chanhassen uses what he learned during the Missionary Discipleship Series to share his faith with other Catholic men. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

Steve Lentz couldn’t imagine sharing his faith on a street corner, but he loves helping Catholic men he knows build their relationships with Jesus.

The St. Hubert parishioner learned more about the spiritual gift of encouragement and bringing his faith more fully into daily life last school year at the inaugural Missionary Discipleship Series held by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office of Evangelization.

Lentz, 54, who participated in the series held at his parish because he wanted to go deeper in his faith, now shares his faith story intentionally, including with men in the small group he leads at St. Hubert in Chanhassen.

“There’s nothing that fires me up more than having conversations with others when I’m in a position to help provide some encouragement regarding their faith journeys, never selling themselves short and recognizing that none of us are perfect,” Lentz said. “Because guys will come up with every excuse in the book for not going deeper.”

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to go deeper — to live as missionary disciples who have encountered Christ, know how and why he came to save us and are equipped to share that message with others.

Starting this fall, archdiocesan Catholics have two opportunities to learn about becoming missionary disciples. In addition to the Missionary Discipleship Series, which consists of three, month-long sessions offered at two parishes, the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute at The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul is offering its School of Discipleship program at a parish this fall and another parish this spring.

Becoming a missionary disciple is about walking daily with Jesus throughout life, said Crystal Crocker, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization. Many Catholics don’t see themselves as disciples because their lives are busy, they haven’t fully heard the Gospel message, (also known by its Greek name, the kerygma) and they haven’t been guided, she said.

Missionary disciples are needed now for renewal of the Church, as many Catholics — especially young adults — no longer practice their faith, Crocker said

Introduced as a pilot at St. Hubert and at St. Peter in Mendota last year, a quarter of the 150 registered for the discipleship series were young adults, Crocker said.

This year, participants will meet weekly during October, February and April/May at Epiphany in Coon Rapids or St. Joseph in Waconia.

The fall session begins Oct. 8 at Epiphany and Oct. 10 at St. Joseph. The first month is devoted to hearing God’s call, becoming more familiar with the kerygma and learning methods of prayer.

During February, participants will learn to integrate their contemplative and active lives. They’ll also have an opportunity to attend a Called and Gifted Workshop run through the Office of Evangelization that stresses the gifts, or charisms, of the Holy Spirit and how they work in people’s lives and in their parishes.

The April/May session is designed to help people develop their personal faith story and learn to share their faith with others.

A line-up of about 20 speakers will include Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens; Father Steven Borello, a former spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul who now is director of vocations for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois; Patrick Conley, host of Relevant Radio’s Rediscover: Hour and coordinator of Called and Gifted; and Ryan O’Hara, content director with Saint Paul’s Outreach campus ministry headquartered in Inver Grove Heights.

The $150 cost includes materials and the Called and Gifted workshop. For information and to register visit archspm.org/faith-and-discipleship/missionary-discipleship or contact Susanna Parent at parents@archspm.org.

Another course responding to Pope Francis’ challenge of missionary discipleship that emphasizes prayer and sharing Christ with others is the Catechetical Institute’s School of Discipleship, led by Jeff Cavins, a member of St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove and widely known evangelist and author of the Great Adventure Bible Timeline.

In its eighth year, “the School of Discipleship encapsulates this challenge as students not only learn what it means to be a modern-day disciple of Jesus Christ, but they actually do it by entering into a 40-Day Challenge that sets them up to be missionary disciples for life,” Cavins said.

While the archdiocese’s series will be taught by a variety of speakers, Cavins is the School of Discipleship’s main presenter, with Father Mike Schmitz, a priest in the Duluth diocese, teaching one class.

During the seven-week course, students learn modern discipleship, sharing their faith, and advancing in prayer. They prepare for a 40-day challenge of using what they’ve learned with help from Cavins’ book, “The Activated Disciple” and other materials.

Some of last year’s 700 participants who’d never shared Christ with others said it became a daily experience, said Kelly Wahlquist, the institute’s director.

Angie and Paul Hughes attended the School of Discipleship last spring for faith and marriage enrichment. Initially Angie, 53, found discipleship overwhelming and didn’t think she had the skills for it. But she gained the desire and knowledge to share God’s love, and now prays for openings and the right words when talking with people she knows.

“I’m much more open to sharing my faith and having it be a natural part of conversation and drawing that out of family and friends,” Hughes said.

The School of Discipleship starts Oct. 1 at St. Andrew in Elk River. A spring session is planned for St. Pius X in White Bear Lake. The $150 cost includes Cavins’ book and other materials. For more information and to register visit cistudent.com.

Completion of the Institute’s two-year Pillars Program isn’t required but graduates of that program will be familiar with the concept of discipleship, as the institute focuses on putting faith into practice, Wahlquist said.

As Lentz uses what he learned through the Missionary Discipleship Series by working faith into his relationships, he said he is less stressed and more aware of the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

“It’s been a great confirmation that I’m on the right track and I’m not going to get off it,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s going to take me but I’m excited about (following) where the Lord wants me to go.”

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