Catholic Discipleship and "Forming Intentional Disciples"

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Information about Catholic Discipleship and "Forming Intentional Disciples"

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: ColleenReissVermeule



A short introduction to key ideas from Sherry Weddell's "Forming Intentional Disciples" in the context of discipleship in the Catholic faith. More resources available at:

discipleship an introduction to Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples Created Feb 2014 Feel free to re-use any slide, but please attribute.  naming discipleship Forming Intentional Disciples Colleen Vermeulen, M.Div. Twitter: @EvangelToolbox Website:

what is discipleship?

Image: The Saint John’s Bible Seeing the Word Blog disciple. (noun)learner, student -ship. condition of being, implying a skill

discipleship in the Catholic Tradition

using the language of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, • Pray ( 2601, 2612) • Abide in the Word ( 2466) • Witness to Christ and work using the gifts received from God, in ecclesial and temporal affairs ( 1319, 2427) • Imitate Jesus ( 2347, 2470) disciples: • Profess, spread, and live the faith of the Church ( 1816) • Establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ ( 1494) • Are initiated and nourished by the Eucharist ( 1275) • Respond to Jesus’ invitation to enter His kingdom ( 546)

discipleship as transmitted by the Church is: • an active response • for everyone • personal (yet in community)

our challenge discipleship in the Catholic faith experiences of Catholics in our time not to scale ;-)

the majorityof Catholics in the United States are sacramentalized but notevangelized They do not know that an explicit, personal attachment to Christ— personal discipleship—is normativeCatholicism as taught by the apostles and reiterated time and time again by the popes, councils, and saints of the Church. -- Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 46

The proclamation of the Gospel kerygma leads a person to, one day be “overwhelmed and brought to the decision to entrust himself to Jesus Christ by faith” -- Blessed John Paul II, CatechesiTradendae, 25 . Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. -- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est 1 For me, faith is born from the encounter with Jesus. A personal encounter, which has touched my heart and given direction and new meaning to my existence. -- Pope Francis, Letter to La Republica

only 48% of Catholics were absolutely certain that the God they believed in was a God with whom they could have a personal relationship Forming Intentional Disciples, Chapter 1

assessing the state of discipleship without vilifying Image: “Paul Preaching to the Athenians,” Leonard Porter Studio, 2009

naming discipleship the book Forming Intentional Disciples FID + ministry formation = ?

Chapter One: God Has No Grandchildren Image: Military Council of Catholic Women Fiat, “Book Club,”

in review: there were lots of statistics

The spiritual winds blow both ways in our postmodern world: into andoutof the Church. Our spiritual climate provides us with real opportunities …and very definite threats if we do not adjust our evangelizing, catechetical, and pastoral practice to the unique challenges of the times in which we live. -- Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 18

1 key point the origin of intentional discipleship

All we meant…was “intentional” as in Peter and his brother, on the sea of Galilee, they dropped their nets, and they followed him. You don’t do that accidentally, you don’t do it in your sleep, and neither can any of us be disciples in our sleep! --Sherry Weddell, onlineinterview with Bishop Sheridan (Colorado Springs) Image: CC license, flappingwings via Flickr

of course, “unintentional discipleship” is impossible, but using explicit language like “intentional discipleship” seemed to break the mysterious spell that makes it difficult for many Catholics to think and speak of discipleship in meaningful, real-life ways -- Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 65

2 key point characterizing intentional discipleship

intentional discipleship is characterized by: • a “drop the net” decision • primary motivation from within, a “Holy Spiritgiven hunger and thirst for righteousness” • worship and love of the Blessed Trinity with one’s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love of neighbor as one’s self as source and end of all things Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 65-66

sharing the faith with one’s family seeking to know and live God’s will attend to issues of justice passionate prayer taking risks for the Kingdom of God some fruitsof intentional discipleship Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 80-81 desire to worship love for the Church hunger to learn more about their faith sharing the really Good News joyful service generous giving vocational discernment loving care for the poor

3 key point intentional discipleship is ecclesial

three spiritual journeys 1 2 3 1. The personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ resultingin intentional discipleship. 2. The ecclesial journey into the Church through reception of the sacraments of initiation. 3. The journey of active practice – receivingthe sacraments, attending Mass, and participating in the life and mission of the Christian community. 2 1 3 + many more variations… Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 54

4 key point discipleship matters for everyone

As we listened to Catholics talk about their spiritual journey, we began to realize that many assumed there were two basic spiritual “tracks”: “ordinary Catholic” and “saint.” We discovered that many Catholics, including some pastoral leaders…have no imaginative category for one who is an intentional follower of Jesus“on the way” yet not a saint. There is a strong tendency to account for those who try to live as disciples by labeling them “extraordinary,” either positively, as called to priestly or religious life, or negatively, as pretenders to sanctity. -- Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 63

“We must be convinced that all the baptized – unless they die early or are incapable of making such a decision – will eventually be called to make a personal choice to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church” --Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 70 Image: CNS, Catholic Review, Tom McCarthy Jr., 2012

5 key point seek stories, not labels

baptized liberal practicing Catholic progressive left evangelical active pro-life right laity atheist confirmed clergy convert married in the Church conservative fallen away Catholic

6 key point offering a framework for the [often overlooked] Spiritual Journey #1

a framework for spiritual journey #1 intentional discipleship seeking openness curiosity the trust 5 thresholds of conversion

not the only framework

7 key point expect charisms (spiritual gifts) and grace

You and I have no right to judge another’s internal disposition, nor can we see justification happen in an individuals’ soul. But this does not mean that nofruits of personal faith are observable from the outside. And it certainly does not mean that a dramatic and widespread absence of these fruits in the community overall cannot be recognized and addressed. -- Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, 122

The book has made a splash. • in the Amazon Top 5000 nearly continuously since publication • still breaking into the hourly Amazon Top 20 “Catholicism” best sellers at least 91dioceses in the U.S. are deliberately engaging with the ideas in Forming Intentional Disciples: Arlington • Baltimore • Boise • Boston • Charleston, SC • Chicago • Cleveland • Colorado Springs • Denver •Detroit • Fargo • Fort Worth, TX •Fort Wayne – South Bend • Green Bay •Dubuque, IA • Joliet, IL • Knoxville • La Crosse, WI • Lansing, MI •Lexington, KY • Los Angeles • Madison, WI • Manchester, H • Milwaukee •New York • Newark • Oakland, CA • Ogdensburgh, NY • Oklahoma City • Omaha • Orange, CA • Richmond • San Antonio • San Francisco • San Jose, CA• Scranton, PA• Seattle • Springfield, IL [+ dioceses in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and 4 other countries] since 1997, over 65,000 lay, religious, and ordained Catholics have participated in the Catherine of Siena Institute programs that inspired the book

what next? Study the book. Talk about it in your parish or ministry setting. naming discipleship Forming Intentional Disciples Reflect on:  if/how your parish or ministry deliberately allows space for spiritual journey #1  ways to be sensitive to and discern the many thresholds and complex conversion processes of those who are not yet disciples Check out additional resources at: esources-for-intentional-discipleship/ ?

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