Challenged to be intentional in discipleship - Study Days 2017

By John Chavez

How many of us really know the story of Jesus? And if we really know the story of Jesus, how many of us are willing to “drop our nets and say “yes” to God’s call for us to live out our lives as intentional disciples?

These were only some of the challenging questions Sherry Weddell, of the Catherine of Siena Institute presented to a large, representative crowd of the diocese.

People from each of the six deaneries were present at the Spring Study Days held May 8 to 10 at St. Joseph Parish in Pueblo. Ms. Weddell’s presentation over these three days was focused on her book Forming Intentional Disciples. She stated there are 1.3 billion Catholics on the planet; we are 17 percent of the world’s population and we are over half of all the Christians on the planet. Those are some very impressive numbers. However, the numbers look much different at a local level. Out of 100 Catholics there are only four of us who attend Mass on a weekly basis.

This leaves a large number of people who are only connected to the Catholic Church in some way. She presented more difficult questions for those weekly Mass-goers. How can we be a bridge to those Catholics who are on the fringe of our faith? How do we begin to engage our fellow Catholics and bridge the existing gap? How can we better reach parents? How can we better connect with our youth? Sacred Scripture tells us “Be not afraid” 365 times. Therefore, we need not be afraid to ask people about their current relationship with God up to this particular point in their lives. We need to be not afraid to ask tough questions to those around us - family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. We never know who God is going to put in our lives on any given day with whom we can share in Jesus’ story.

One of her most important messages was that we, as Catholics, must not be afraid to mention Jesus’ name. Unfortunately, we are afraid, much like the Harry Potter movies when they talk about “he who must not be named.” We need to overcome our fear of saying Jesus’ name out loud, tell his story, tell our stories. Our society is not receptive to this today. It is important for us to name Jesus in our conversations, carry his message by our actions in our relationships with those around us.

There is a lot of work that lies ahead of us. It is time we have these conversations around our dinner tables, in our homes and in all our environments. We need to ask ourselves how can we become intentional in our discipleship? There were many questions posed over these few days. And we began to discover the answer lies with each of us and the difference we can individually make.

At the conclusion of Study Days, Msgr. Tom Adrians was honored for his 50th priesthood anniversary and Fr. Charlie Sena for 25 years. May God bless them both.