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Written by Sherry   
Friday, 26 January 2007 05:57
We appreciate you dropping by.

Who Are We?

Intentional Disciples is a group blog devoted to the baptismal call, spirituality, gifts, vocations, ministry, work, history, theology, evangelization, formation, bad jokes, and pastoral support of lay Christians seeking to live their faith in the 21st century.

What is the Catherine of Siena Institute?

All the posters on our blog are involved with the Institute’s work in some way. The Institute emerged nearly 10 years ago out of a collaboration between Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP and a laywoman, Sherry Weddell. The Institute’s purpose is to “equip parishes to form lay apostles”. So far, we have worked with nearly 25,000 lay and ordained Catholics in hundreds of parishes in 74 dioceses on 4 continents.

We are not a lay movement nor do we have a pre-packaged “program” to offer. As we say on our website: We seek to foster the proclamation of the gospel to all the world by ensuring that lay Catholics (who are 99% of the Church) are equipped to effectively carry out their unique and essential part in this mission.

Every baptized Christian is called by Christ; therefore, every Christian needs the preparation that the Church offers to those called to fulfill a specific mission. The Church calls such preparation "formation." "Formation is not the privilege of a few, but a right and duty of all." (Christifideles Laici, 63.) We are working to ensure that every Catholic has access to a formation that:

  • Is distinctly lay in approach, spirituality, and focus;
  • Is deeply rooted in the Tradition and Magisterial teaching of the Church;
  • Fosters integration of faith, work, and relationships;
  • Takes seriously the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to every Christian;
  • Enables each one to further discern God's unique call in his or her own life;
  • Prepares him or her to be an effective, creative apostle in the midst of the world;
  • Encourages collaboration between the clergy and laity in mission to the world; and
  • Is geared to the real lives of working adults.

    Our Mission

    We work to make apostolic formation and support readily available to all lay Catholics by:

    • Making self-formation resources available to lay Catholics throughout the world
    • Equipping parishes to become houses of formation, discernment, and apostolic support for the laity.
    • Forming clergy, religious, and lay leaders to be effective formators of lay people.
    • Fostering awareness, discussion, theological inquiry, and pastoral consultation throughout the Church regarding the apostolic mission and formation of the laity.
    • Collaborating with interested individuals, groups, and organizations in the service of this mission.

    We are an apostolate of the


    Western Dominican Province and are affiliated with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. We are best known for the Called & Gifted discernment process.

    Why did we choose the title “Intentional Disciples” for our blog?

    Because Jesus is the heart of everything in the Christian life: our worship and sacramental life, our communion with his Church, our prayer life, work, loves, and play; our hope of ultimate salvation. We mean “disciple” as if you and I were Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee and had the same opportunity to make a personal response to the same invitation. Peter didn’t drop those nets and spend the next three years with Jesus accidentally or unconsciously.He had to make a deliberate choice to say "yes" and then a series of choices to actually follow Jesus through the months and years ahead. In the same way, you and I are called, at some point, to respond with personal faith and assent to the faith into which we were baptized.

    What do we mean by “Intentional?"

    The integration of mind, heart, will, body soul and spirit in a deliberate "yes" to Christ's invitation to ‘follow me.’

    ". . .the "good news" is directed to stirring a person to a conversion of heart and life and a clinging to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; to disposing a person to receive Baptism and the Eucharist and to strengthen a person in the prospect and realization of new life according to the Spirit.
    --Catechesis in Our Time

    The joining of personal interior faith with assent to Church teaching and communion; the union of personal disposition and the sacraments as the Church has explicitly taught in great detail since the Council of Trent. This is Catholic to the bone, as old as the Gospels and as current as Benedict XVI's speeches. There isn't a shred of originality in it anywhere. As Amy noted in her post, there is nothing new about this.

    Is the term “Intentional Disciple” evangelical Protestant?

    No. I (Sherry) never heard the term “intentional disciple” used when I was an evangelical. Nor have I heard it used elsewhere. We came up with the phrase "intentional disciple" last summer after years of finding that the term "disciple" alone simply didn't convey the union of "fides formata" (personal faith and repentance infused with hope and love that the Council of Trent insisted was necessary for justification) and sacramental grace to pastoral leaders.

    After working with thousands of pastors, DREs, pastoral and diocesan staff and pastoral leaders all over the world, we knew we needed a term that was perfectly Catholic but just a tad unfamiliar. Unfamiliar enough to make Catholics think again.

    Our experience has been that we can meticulously walk through a detailed and documented presentation on Church teaching on evangelization and people just look at us with glazed eyes. But if we use the term "intentional disciple", they wake up. Some rejoice, others get angry - but no one falls asleep.

    And not being asleep would seem to be the first pre-requisite for fulfilling the Church's primary mission of evangelization.

    “Intentional Disciple” is not a trademark. It's a useful phrase. The speculation that our tiny, hand-to-mouth outfit has visions of becoming the next "Purpose-Driven" empire is beyond irony. And in case you were wondering, we are a certified albino-monk-assassin-free zone.

    What topics do we discuss on Intentional Disciples?

    Anything and everything related to the discipleship and apostleship of the laity and the mission of the Church to the world.

    1) Proclaiming Christ and the practical evangelization of individuals: How to communicate the kerygma to those who are not yet disciples of Jesus Christ and help them become disciples.

    2) Formation: How to nurture the spiritual maturity and foster the apostolic call of every baptized person, especially at the local parish level.

    3) Discernment and Vocation: Anything related to charisms (duh!) and the discernment and living of personal vocations - especially non-ecclesial vocations.

    4) Evangelization of culture and societal structures - especially in relationship to the faith, work, vocations, and initiatives of lay Christians.



    • Stories we hear/witness from close friends or families or stories we hear/witness on the road that are relevant to 1 -4
    • Essential Church teaching and theology and formation resources related to # 1-4.
    • Effective initiatives related to #1-4
    • Struggles/obstacles/questions/perspectives related to #1-4

    That's why we want and need a variety of voices and life experiences on the blog. We don't expect you to agree with each other on everything. Can you spell b-o-r-i-n-g? Our parameters are the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. Within those parameters, there is a ton of room for different opinions and personalities.

    The blog is actively moderated. We want to create a positive space for discussion that will encourage thoughtful "lurkers" who normally don't comment on other blogs because a few belligerent nasties dominate. The chronically uncivil will be asked to take their opinions elsewhere.

    We want to remain focused on providing a forum for important aspects of Catholic teaching, life and practice that aren’t getting much attention elsewhere. Therefore, there are certain topics we won't be discussing on Intentional Disciples. These would include:

    1) Ecclesial gossip: For rumors about curia officials and who is going to be the next Bishop of St. Bullfrog's, go elsewhere. Whispers in the Loggia does a great job of this. If people want to check out the latest buzz - we'll suggest they go there.

    2) Liturgy and liturgical controversies: Most Catholic blogs are routinely filled with discussions about liturgical disciplines, practices, the "old" Mass vs. the "new" Mass and horror stories about liturgical abuses. We won't be covering the liturgy wars on Intentional Disciples. None of us here has the kind of special knowledge of the liturgy necessary to repond thoughtfully to many of the issues raised. It has been done to death and there are dozens of other places to go to fill anyone's liturgical maven needs. We trust the Church and Pope Benedict XVI on this one.

    What we do know a lot about, what has been poorly covered elsewhere, and that we want to focus on here is the 99% of lay Catholic life and mission that goes on outside the sanctuary.