Mike in our office just got off the phone with Deacon Karl Buder of Martha's Vineyard who has quite a story to tell.
Deacon Karl was just ordained in October. Shortly afterward, his pastor handed him a Called & Gifted cd set which he had purchased 3 years earlier but never had time to do anything with.
Deacon Karl listened to the C & G, got excited, and found himself in Chicago land in December being trained to faciliate the discernment of others. I did that training and had the fun of getting to know him a bit and hear his stories about the realities of life on that famous island with its three parishes merging into one, a large Portuguese community, a mostly working class year round population, and the rich summer visitors who fuel the economy.
So when Deacon Karl called today and told us that he had offered little workshops using our cds which has really struck a chord with people and done 45 one-on-one interviews in the past 3 months, we were delighted. One comment that really said it all: his experience of the Called & Gifted process has changed the course of his ministry.
For years, I've been telling people when I train them to do "discernment interviews", that this is the most fun you can have legally. And the experience of so many has born this out as they are amazed and encouraged by the stories they hear of God's work in and through the lives of very ordinary Catholics.
But the longer I work with the whole discernment process, the more aware I am that it is a fabulous and critical pastoral awareness and skill for anyone - priests, religious, lay leaders of all kinds - in some kind of pastoral leadership. Not to mention one of the essential tasks of governance.
Why talk about governance on a blog dedicated to the laity? Because governance, one of three major tasks of the pastoral office, has big implications for intentional discipleship and the gifts and vocations of the laity. (There is only one pastoral office, which bishops hold in its fullness, priests and deacons participate in as co-workers of the bishop and lay leaders in a parish participate in by delegation from the bishop or pastor - not by right).
The spiritual forces unleashed by conversion naturally demand governance. The Church is eloquent on the fact that calling forth the charisms and vocations of all the baptized for the sake of our common evangelical mission constitutes an indispensable part of governance.
"The exercise of the munus regendi is directed both to gathering the flock in the visible unity of a single profession of faith lived in the sacramental communion of the Church and to guiding that flock, in the diversity of its gifts and callings, towards a common goal: the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Every act of ecclesiastical governance, consequently, must be aimed at fostering communion and mission." (emphasis mine) Address of John Paul II to the Bishops of the ecclesiastical regions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (USA) on their “Ad Limina” visit, Saturday, September 11, 2004
This is why the Church teaches that clergy are to “cooperate” with the laity, listen to them, recognize their experience and competence, awaken and deepen their sense of co-responsibility, help them explore and discern their vocations, and form them for and support them in their secular apostolate (Pastores DaboVobis, 59, 74).
In their spare time, priests are also called to “recognize”, uncover with faith, acknowledge with joy, foster with diligence, know, appreciate, judge and discern, coordinate, put to good use, and have heartfelt esteem for the charisms of the laity (Lumen Gentium, 30; Presbyterorum Ordinis, 9; Pastores Dabo Vobis 40, 74, Christifideles Laici, 32)
Now It's happening on Martha's Vineyard. The parish is sending 4 more people (to California!) to be trained as interviewers, including one young woman who is bi-lingual in English and Portuguese.
This also means that our California interviewer training in April is full and we can't take any more trainees.
But we do have another training in Seattle coming up - at the end of March and several more that are in the development phase around the country. Give us a call (888 878 6789) to find out if a training is coming to a town near you.
Of course, to be part of the fun of facilitating someone else' discernment, you have to have first done some discernment of your own.
The first step is always to have gone through a live introductory Called & Gifted workshop or to have listened to it on cd, taken the inventory, and had your own interview (which we can do by phone).
It is wonderful, life-changing thing to be a little "John the Baptist" making straight the path of someone whom God has anointed and sent to heal and transform our world. Not to mention - the most fun you can have legally!