Siena E-Scribe, Newsletter of the Catherine of Siena Institute, Colorado Springs, Colorado



in this issue

New and Improved! Making Disciples
Sherry and Fr. Mike have been working on a new four-day workshop that will help parishes focus on the essential task of forming disciples of Jesus Christ. It will be energetic, informative, interactive and practical and may be just the seminar your parish staff needs to help create a vibrant, mission-oriented parish community.

Awakening Vocations in the Called & Gifted Parish
Mary Sharon Moore, a Called & Gifted teacher, discerns her charisms and discovers a whole new ministry of parish-based vocational discernment. Her dream is ambitious. "From here on out I am dedicating my best energies to awakening and sustaining a theologically and spiritually robust vocational culture in every diocese and every parish in the U.S."

The Difference of One Life
We all want our life to mean something, to make a difference. "What does God want from me?" we ask. Sometimes we can forget that the difference we make is measured in the lives we help to change as God works through the charisms He has given us. Here's a story of a second chance given to a young child.

Building Intentional Community
The Institute is at it again! This time we're sponsoring a conversation on building better Catholic community within our parishes. Catholics are called to intentional discipleship, and disciples have a need for both formation and personal support. How can our parishes provide these elements that are so essential to continued growth in the Lord? What are parishes already doing? Come to Colorado Springs and be a part of this new groundswell of intentional living of the faith!

on the web

Visit our NEWLY UPGRADED WEBSTORE, the Siena Shoppe. Please give us suggestions and feedback, and pick up some great resources while you’re at it! You can also make a donation to help with our mission of making disciples and equipping apostles.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI
Fr. Rolheiser is the president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX, a nationally syndicated Catholic writer, and author of several best-selling books, including The Holy Longing: the Search for a Christian Spirituality. His website offers reflections on the Gospel, the Christian life, and other topics of interest.

Western Dominican Province
Visit the website of the Dominicans in the west, and read about one friar's experience at the Sundance Film Festival (his short film won an award!). Or read one of the Fellows' Lectures, or look into a Dominican vocation, or...

Theology of the Body
The 'Theology of the Body' is Pope John Paul II's integrated vision of the human person - body, soul, and spirit. As he explains, the physical human body has a specific meaning and is capable of revealing answers regarding fundamental questions about us and our lives. The site includes articles and locations and times of discussion groups around the country.


This is a workshop for pastors, parish staff, and other lay leaders who would like to explore how to foster a culture of intentional discipleship and discernment in their parishes. The formation provided will help participants learn how to evangelize parishioners who will then worship, pray, give, study their faith, and discern God's call for them out of a loving relationship with Christ.
Cost for either venue:
Commuter (training + meals only) $545 per person
On-site (training, room + meals) $695 per person
For information or to make reservations, contact Mike Dillon at the Institute office.

July 29 - August 2, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO
Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: The Franciscan Retreat Center, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies just north of Colorado Springs at 6500 ft elevation. The Retreat Center provides panoramic views of the Rampart Range and the Pikes Peak region.

November 4-8, 2007
Kearneysville, WV
Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: Priestfield Pastoral Center. Enjoy the splendor of autumn color in scenic West Virginia, just outside the Washington, D.C. metro area. Situated on a large wooded property along the Opequon Creek, the overall serenity of Priestfield is complimented with well-maintained walking trails through the woods and along the creek, water gardens, outdoor decks and patios providing many choice places for quiet reflection.

Building a Community of Disciples

August 31, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO

A national gathering of laity and clergy interested in improving community life in our parishes. Held at the beautiful and historic Penrose House from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. and concluding with a festive picnic at a nearby park.

For additional information, take a look at this article on our blog, Intentional Disciples. If you are interested, or if you have questions regarding the event or hotel accommodations, please call or e-mail Mike Dillon at (888) 878-6789.

Colorado Springs has a small airport, but you can also drive from Denver International Airport, just a short 90 minutes away via freeway. Rental cars at the Colorado Springs airport and local hotels are relatively inexpensive.

Called & Gifted Workshops

April 20-21, 2007
Greenville SC
(Diocese of Charleston)
St. Mary's Catholic Church
CONTACT: Kate Tierney (864) 230-7767; or by e-mail.

April 27-28, 2007
Olympia WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
St. Michael Catholic Church
CONTACT: Kathleen Wright, Steward for Time, Talent and Evangelization, or the parish office, (360) 754-4667 x115.

May 4-5, 2007
Sammamish, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church
CONTACT: Colleen O'Connell, Pastoral Associate, or the parish
office at (425) 391-1178 x120.

May 11-12, 2007
Knoxville, TN
(Diocese of Knoxville)
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
CONTACT: Marian Howard, Director of Adult Formation, or the parish office at (865) 522-1508.

June 15-16, 2007
Bloomingdale, IL
(Diocese of Joliet, IL)
St. Isidore Catholic Church
CONTACT: Barbara Tillman, or the parish office at (630) 529-3045.

Modesto CA
(Diocese of Stockton)
St Joseph Catholic Church
CONTACT: Susie Dickert, Director of Parish Events, or the parish office at (209) 551-4973.

Special Events

April, 13-15, 2007
Madison, WI

Archdiocese of Milwaukee, WI
Sherry Weddell will join Avery Cardinal Dulles and others as a presenter at the Evangelical Catholic Institute. She will be discussing the stages of pre-discipleship and evangelization. Click here to register online.
CONTACT: the Evangelical Catholic office, (608) 821-3166 for more information, or send an e-mail.

Interviewer Training

Learn how to help others (as individuals or in small groups) to discern their charisms.
* Basic listening skills and spiritual maturity (best if practicing Christian for 2 years prior)
* Must have attended live Called & Gifted workshop or listened to CDs or audio tapes, took Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, did some personal discernment, had a one-on-one personal Gifts Interview.

March 9-10, 2007
Greenville, SC
(Diocese of Charleston)
St. Mary Catholic Church
CONTACT Mike Dillon at (719) 219-0056 or Kate Tierney in Greenville, (864) 297-8232.

March 16-17, 2007
Chatsworth, CA
(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
St. John Eudes Catholic Church
CONTACT: Katie Dawson, Director of Evangelization at St John Eudes parish (818) 341-3680; or Bobby Vidal, Religious Education Director, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha parish, Santa Clarita CA, (661) 296-3180.

March 30-31, 2007
Cedar Rapids, IA
(Archdiocese of Dubuque)
CONTACT: Linda Manternach, Director of Stewardship for the Archdiocese, by her e-mail.

Teacher Training

June 8-10 2007
Cedar Rapids, IA
(Archdiocese of Dubuque)
A training workshop to prepare teachers to present the Called & Gifted workshop within the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
PREREQUISITE: Attend and successfully complete the Institute's Interviewer & Facilitator Training workshop.
CONTACT: Mike Dillon at the Institute office (719) 219-0056 or e-mail Mike.

June 15-17, 2007
Santa Clarita, CA
(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church
A training workshop to prepare teachers to present the Called & Gifted workshop for the Catherine of Siena Institute.
PREREQUISITE: Attend and successfully complete the Institute's Interviewer & Facilitator Training workshop.
CONTACT: Mike Dillon at the Institute office (719) 219-0056 or e-mail Mike.

Day of Discernment

"For Such a Time as This: How to Find and Live God's Purpose for Your Life."
A day devoted to the practical art of discernment with Sherry Weddell, Co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute.

April 21, 2007
Riverside, CA
(Diocese of San Bernardino)
St. Andrew's Catholic Newman Center
CONTACT: Newman Center office (909) 682-8751; or e-mail.

The Catherine of Siena Institute is a religious non-profit with 501C-3 status. We receive no financial support from any diocese or from the Western Dominican Province, but are entirely self-supporting. Your donations and gifts-in-kind are essential to our ongoing operations. To learn how you can help us, please contact our Development Officer, Mr. George Martelon at (303) 847-7052.




New and Improved! Making Disciples
by Sherry Weddell, Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

Intentional discipleship is a term in widening use to describe the kind of Christian life that seeks an ever-deeper maturity in faith and an ever-increasing ability to be effective in shining the light of the Gospel into the world at large. Intentional disciples donate generously to their parish. As parents, they actively pass on the faith to their children. They eagerly fill faith formation classes, become ministry leaders who begin exciting pastoral initiatives. They discern vocations to priesthood and religious life. Their work and participation in secular society is shaped by their Christian worldview.

The church exists and grows because of the presence of intentional disciples.

If you're reading this, you either are one or are curious about becoming one.

Curiosity is the first stage for everyone. But then what? How do we, in our parish communities create opportunities to recognize intentional disciples in-waiting? How do we, for ourselves and others, create opportunities to move forward along the progression from curiosity to a deep, committed, radiant Christian life?

When Jesus asked Simon to "come, follow me," Simon did not drop his nets and set off after Jesus across Palestine for the next three years accidentally. He did not become St. Peter unconsciously. Neither will the next generation of practicing Catholics, priests, religious, and lay leaders emerge accidentally or unconsciously.

The non-negotiable foundation for Christian maturity and vocation today as it was for St. Peter, is intentional discipleship. And the key to intentional discipleship is a critical part of catechesis that seldom happens in the Catholic community: pre-evangelization and the initial proclamation of Christ that asks for a deliberate personal response.

To help parishes build this essential foundation, the Catherine of Siena Institute is offering a new four-day seminar called Making Disciples twice in 2007. One seminar will be held in Colorado Springs in the summer, and the other will be held in West Virginia in the fall.

Designed for pastors, directors of evangelization, religious education directors, adult faith formation leaders, vocation directors, spiritual directors and catechists, Making Disciples is a four-day seminar that will help you:

  • Understand intentional discipleship, that it is the normative source of spiritual life, and thus the foundation of all pastoral ministry.
  • Understand why initial discipleship precedes catechesis and how life-changing catechesis builds on discipleship.
  • Learn how to listen for and recognize pre-discipleship stages of spiritual growth.
  • Learn how to facilitate the spiritual growth of those, baptized or not, who are not yet disciples.
  • Discover ways of articulating the basic kerygma that awakens initial faith in a gentle and non-threatening way.
  • Explore how to use these skills in a wide variety of pastoral settings: RCIA/inquiry, adult faith formation, sacramental prep, spiritual direction or pastoral counseling and gifts discernment.
  • Prayerfully reflect on your own journey of discipleship.

For more information, see the advertisement for Making Disciples on the sidebar to the left. We hope to see you in cool, sunny Colorado in the summer, or in West Virginia in the peak of autumn glory!

Building Intentional Community in the Parish
by Sherry Weddell, Co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute

One of the comments we hear repeatedly from people around the country concerns the need for stronger connections between Catholics in our parish communities. The lack of community support is one of the reasons "fallen away" Catholics say they no longer participate in their local parish or have joined a local Evangelical church. A rather extensive discussion on this topic was held over several days on several blogs, including the Institute blog Intentional Disciples. To read them, click post 1, post 2, and post 3. In these posts you will learn about the genesis of an intentional community that sprang up at Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle, WA, known simply as, the Nameless Lay Group.

Drawing on some of the experiences of intentional community that Sherry and others had in the Nameless Lay Group, the Catherine of Siena Institute is sponsoring a day-long gathering on the subject of building intentional community in our parishes. The discussion will be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, August 31, the day before Labor Day Weekend. We will also discuss attempts made in parishes around the country to foster intentional community. We would like to hear your ideas and learn from your experiences as well.

Our day together will be spent at the beautiful Penrose House at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. Lunch will be provided, and the day will end with an evening barbeque starting at 6 p.m. at a nearby city park. Penrose

This will be your chance to get to know some of the bloggers who contribute to Intentional Disciples, including Sherry Weddell and Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., Sherry Curp, (a.k.a. "the other Sherry" on the blog) and Kathie Lundquist. In addition, Mark Shea and his family, some of the original members of the Nameless Lay Group, will be joining the festivities!

To cover the cost of meals and the other expenses of hosting this day, we are asking for a donation of $40 per participant for the whole day. Unfortunately, because there are no child care facilities on the Penrose House grounds, and the Institute cannot provide child care, the gathering at the Penrose House is an adult-only event. There are many child-friendly attractions in the Colorado Springs area, and a few are described here. People of all ages are welcome to the barbeque. The cost for adults and teenagers to attend the barbecue only is $20 and for children under 12 to attend the barbecue only would be $10.

We do need you to pre-register for this event by August 1 so we can make the appropriate arrangements. Let us know as early as possible, since our meeting space, the old Coach house, can hold a limited number of people.

Awakening Vocations In the Called & Gifted Parish
an interview with Mary Sharon Moore, Awakening Vocations

After extensive discernment of charisms in her own life, Called & Gifted teacher Mary Sharon Moore is now prepared to help dioceses and parishes to awaken vocations to ministry in the Church and mission in the world. Teaching the Called & Gifted workshop over the past four years, says Mary Sharon, has led me to ponder the vital role of Baptism in the mystery of God's calling. Equipped with a master's degree in theological studies and experience in liturgical spirituality and adult faith formation, Mary Sharon recognized the important piece that the Called & Gifted workshop brings to parish renewal. She notes, though, that one more piece had to fall into place before the Baptism-vocation link could emerge.

One vocational charism becomes key.
Upon turning fifty, Mary Sharon recalls noticing a lifetime pattern of not being married.? Shaken but not discouraged, she knew it was time to see what God was up to,?since my vision for my life obviously was not bearing fruit. Another two years passed before she experienced a pivotal moment in her own vocational awakening. When I attended my first Called & Gifted workshop, I finally could name my experience of not being married in a positive way, as the lifestyle charism of celibacy. This was a liberating moment for me.
Over the next few years her discernment of this charism and others brought about a profound vocational awakening to celibate life as a lay person,? available to God’s purposes, no strings attached."

While Mary Sharon was embracing her lay celibate calling, one of her brothers, a priest of ten years, was in the very painful process of acknowledging that he was not called to celibate life, despite his promise and intention to honor that lifestyle for the sake of his priestly ministry. Sorting out and patiently discerning the celibate vocational lifestyle is so important, yet so difficult to do in a couples-oriented culture, Mary Sharon reflects. And discerning a celibate calling, in the celibate environment of seminary or novitiate, when your heart is already oriented toward ministry in the Church, can equally obscure God's calling to Christian married life. Reflecting on the challenges of discovering God's calling to the vocational lifestyle of Christian marriage, celibacy, or single life, Mary Sharon realized that a solid foundation for such discernment is often missing at the diocese and parish level.

Parish-based vocational discernment.
Inspired by the insightful writings on vocational discernment of Francis Kelly Nemeck, OMI, and Marie Theresa Coombs, canonical hermit, Mary Sharon developed Awakening Vocations, a ministry to identify, shape, animate, and sustain the vocational culture of parishes. Vocational discernment is the necessary work of every baptized person, says Mary Sharon. We are, every one of us, Co-laborers with Christ. Living our baptismal life with competence and conviction is not an option but an imperative. People in the pews need good vocational tools to do good work.

Awakening Vocations touches every generation and every aspect of faith formation in the parish. Leery of programs the effects of which fade when the programs end, Mary Sharon aims to go to the roots of how a parish expresses itself and forms its people vocationally. There's something of a vocational renaissance among young people whose hearts are on fire to serve God, she notes. It's the rest of us who hunger for vocational clarity, direction, guidance, a process we can get our arms around, something we can really respond to. The profile of recently ordained men nationwide is telling: Many of these men have been in the pews, living a life of faith into their middle years, searching for God's fingerprints in the course of their careers. Many are looking for something more enduring than a career. They are looking for God's calling.

Four phases of awakening vocational culture
"There is no quick fix or simple solution to increasing the number of men called to priestly life, or women and men called to vowed religious life, says Mary Sharon, "nor is there a shortcut to discern God's calling to Christian married life. We are talking about a profound awakening of the people of God for service in the Church and in the world. So our approach must penetrate right down to the hidden crevices of parish culture, so that for every baptized man, woman, and youth, orientation toward God's calling is as natural and life-sustaining as breathing.

The first step in the parish process is what Mary Sharon names The Culture Café a half day gathering of the parish's leaders and visionaries in an inviting café environment, to ponder the meaning, implications, and process of developing an effective, whole-cloth vocational culture within the parish.

The second step is the anchor workshop titled Awakening Vocations. This weekend workshop for the entire parish provides a theology of vocation that links Baptism, the Church's mission, and God's unique calling and the individual's free and gifted response. The workshop also includes a vocational discernment process.

The third step, the Parish Core Team Immersion, is, in Mary Sharon's terms, the unique piece that turns the ship around. This weekend PowerPoint workshop, based on the U.S. Bishops' pastoral plan, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, is designed for all those in the parish who shape or touch the spiritual formation of adults and youth in any way, with a particular focus on lifelong vocational catechesis and formation. This pastoral plan is one of the undiscovered treasures of the U.S. Bishops for the Catholic Church in the United States, notes Mary Sharon. If their vision were implemented in every diocese and every parish, our world would look different. This is a powerful document, but powerful only when it is implemented at the diocese and parish level.

The fourth step is the Formation Workshop for Vocational Guides, a one-day PowerPoint formation workshop for those men and women in the parish who are especially skilled in listening, and gifted in wisdom and encouragement, to serve as in-house guides for fellow parishioners in lifelong vocational discernment.

A vocational process for campus ministries and young adults
The Next Step Café designed for young adults in campus ministry or parish settings, is a weekend gathering offered in a relaxed café environment. The Next Step Café provides a theology of vocation and discernment process in a way that frees them to hear and discern God's calling.

While not focused on promoting any one particular ministry or way of life, The Next Step Café offers a solid basis for distinguishing the three vocational lifestyles of Christian marriage, celibacy, and single life, and practical, achievable steps to discern God's calling. The weekend includes teaching, individual and small-group time, interaction with local priests, religious, and lay people who are discerning or living their calling, plus time for personal prayer, adoration, Reconciliation, and a closing Mass.

There is no shortage of vocations in the Church today, Mary Sharon firmly believes, but rather, a shortage of discernment readily available to Catholic men, women, and youth. From here on out I am dedicating my best energies to awakening and sustaining a theologically and spiritually robust vocational culture in every diocese and every parish in the U.S., says Mary Sharon. It's a big goal, I know, but I am not working alone.

Awakening Vocations donates ten percent of a diocese's or parish's multiphase contract fees to support the education of the diocese's seminarians.

Awakening Vocations, based in Eugene, Oregon, reaches to dioceses across the United States. To learn more, visit Awakening Vocations or call toll-free at 1-877/687-2046. You may e-mail Mary Sharon.

The Difference of One Life: An Example of a Gift-Mix
by Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., Co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

I have been very blessed to learn how to do gifts interviews with individuals who have gone through a live or audio version of the Called & Gifted workshop. Over the course of an hour, these people tell stories that illustrate how God may have been at work through them on behalf of others, sometimes in extraordinary ways. What is remarkable is often the individuals don't even think their examples are unusual! This makes sense, because if charisms are involved, they enjoy the unique way in which the charism allows them to help individuals or groups, they get good feedback, and see results beyond what they might normally expect. God is working through them supernaturally, but it will feel natural to them.

A few weeks ago I was in St. Paul, MN, and I had a wonderful interview with a middle-aged woman I'll call Angela. She is a social worker, and we talked about two charisms in particular: Mercy and Hospitality. Mercy empowers a Christian to be a channel of God's love through providing practical deeds to help alleviate the suffering of another, while Hospitality enables a Christian to welcome strangers and offer them food, shelter and friendship.

After attending Catholic schools through graduate school, Angela went through a conversion in 1993, after which she realized that God was present in those who were suffering. "How could I have missed that fact all those years before?" she asked. Conversion really is like regaining sight, and often we don't even realize we were blinded!

Since 1993, Angela has opened her home to over 50 foster children, many of whom were infants. One child stood out in her mind. She had been asked to take a nearly one-year old baby home for a month while a foster home was found for her. When she picked up the child, Hannah, she was shocked to find that the baby weighed less than ten pounds! She had been horribly abused, and her twin sister had died from similar abuse. Already she had been in thirteen foster care placements. The child, Hannah, was a crack baby and had some problems with her legs. Angela was told that Hannah would probably be mentally retarded and have trouble walking all her life.

Hannah was not an easy child. She screamed nearly all night long, bit Angela, and wouldn't eat well. After saying "mama" to Angela when they first met, Hannah refused to speak again. At night, from her bedroom off the kitchen, Angela could hear her other children asking each other, "what's wrong with mom?" They could not understand why she was willing to let her life be turned upside-down by this difficult infant.

A month went by, and it was time to take Hannah to her new foster home, but Angela was told there was no placement available, so the child would have to be institutionalized. After sadly putting her in the car, Angela began to drive. By the time she reached the end of the block, Angela was sobbing. She couldn't abandon this little girl, because she knew if Hannah were institutionalized, she would soon join her twin in death. So she took Hannah home. After consulting with experts who offered no hope for comforting the screaming little girl, Angela decided to "start over" with Hannah. She began to treat her as though she were an infant; carrying her constantly and not letting her crawl, feeding her by hand, constantly telling the baby how much she loved her. It seemed to make a difference, but Angela knew something more was needed.

She went to the local cathedral and spoke to a priest she knew. Would he pray with her over the child? He agreed, and they prayed before a statue of the Blessed Mother and poured out their hearts on behalf of Hannah.

By the age of four, Hannah was talking, and today she is a healthy, active sixth grader in Catholic school. She is doing great academically, and no one would suspect her history. She still calls Angela "mama."

You see, Angela adopted Hannah.

This is an example of the difference that one life can make. This is the difference our charisms, or gratuitous spiritual gifts, make. Hannah's alive and thriving because of the love of God she received through Angela through the charism gift-mix of mercy and hospitality that God gave Angela for this healing purpose.

Who knows what Hannah will do in her life, what contributions to society she'll make, or who she will love? She, and we, will owe it all to God, who continues to enter the world and change it for the better through ordinary people like Angela, and you, and me.


The Catherine of Siena Institute is affiliated with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California



Fr. Michael Fones, O.P.

1021 N. Warren Avenue

Tucson, AZ 85719

co-Director, Catherine of Siena Institute

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