Reflections on Fall Formation

November 18, 2015

On Thursday November 5th, over 600 pastors, pastoral ministers, volunteers, parish life coordinators, and those that work in RCIA programming filled the pews in the sanctuary of Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale to hear Sherry Weddell speak on “The State of Discipleship.”

This is the second in a series of three formation days for those in the Archdiocese. The first, offered in April of this year focused on the “Work of the Christian Disciple”, with Dr. Deborah Savage of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, as the keynote speaker. The third will be offered in April of 2016, and will feature Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, authors of the book “Rebuilt”. The thrust of the three formation days is to re-energize parishes to do the work of being a missionary Church. As Weddell pointed out to those in attendance, “In our generation, mission is the only maintenance that works!”

A parish must find and form intentional disciples in the faith. An intentional disciple is someone who has had a real, living encounter with the real, living Jesus that is renewed daily. The primary context of evangelization is sharing our witness of a real, personal encounter with Christ. How does an intentional disciple witness to their personal encounter in an authentic way? Over the course of three sessions, Weddell discussed the cultural context, the current state of the Faith in forming intentional disciples, and what will be required to create evangelizing parishes that have experienced a spiritual renewal.

Dr. Savage believes that the large attendance at this event, as well as other events Weddell held over a three day period, indicate there is a level of concern, desire, and hope around creating missionary parishes that develop intentional disciples. She notes that the talks were well received based on surveys collected following the event.

The day concluded with an address from Jeff Cavins, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese on “Becoming Disciples of Jesus.” He encouraged those in attendance to take care to nurture their own relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. His challenge to them was to make their faith about more than the knowledge consumed, it has to be about serving as Christ, speaking as Christ, to suffer and die with Him. That is the witness of a disciple of Christ.

The need for evangelization and discipleship will be met through solid formation of those who have already experienced a personal encounter with Christ. The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity provides programming rooted in our Catholic faith and designed to develop future lay leaders in education, ministry and Catholic thought and culture.