GREEN BAY — It was a simple question placed in the bulletins of St. Matthew Parish in Green Bay and St. Francis Xavier Parish in De Pere. “Do you have a plan to strengthen your faith during this Year of Faith, as proclaimed by the Holy Father?”
That question served as an invitation and introduction to a Bible study program called “A Quick Journey Through the Bible” that began Monday, March 4, at St. Matthew Church and continues through Monday, April 29. When Roseann and Bill Dichraff of St. Matthew Parish proposed doing the eight-part Bible overview, Mike Westenberg, director of religious education at St. Matthew Parish, was gracious, the couple says, in helping them plan and organize the series.
“A Quick Journey Through the Bible” is produced by Jeff Cavins, well-known for the organized and easy way he presents Bible studies. The Dichraffs first became familiar with Cavins when they took his more extensive 24-part “The Great Bible Timeline” five years ago, and they have been doing Bible studies produced by Cavins ever since, focusing on Acts, Matthew and Revelation, which they just concluded in February.
To promote “A Quick Study Through the Bible,” the Dichraffs even spoke after Mass one Sunday at St. Matthew Church, telling the congregation a bit about their faith journey.
So with opening up about their story and the bulletin announcements, the Dichraffs hoped the Bible study would get a nice turnout.
They didn’t anticipate the response “A Quick Journey Through the Bible” had. The results, they say, have been gratifying, with word spreading through other parishes.
A total of 57 participants from seven parishes are experiencing the evening Bible study. That includes not only St. Matthew and St. Francis Xavier, but St. Mary and St. Norbert parishes in De Pere and Resurrection, St. Bernard and St. Mary of the Angels parishes in Green Bay.
For six years, Cavins produced and hosted “Life on the Rock,” a live talk show for young adults on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). He also substituted for Mother Angelica on her live shows when she was ill or traveling, and he continues to appear from time to time on EWTN. He was more recently employed by Relevant Radio to host a nationally-broadcast, live, drive-time show called “Morning Air.” He is currently the adult faith formation minister at the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, Minn.They give the credit to the quality of the Bible studies produced by Cavins. (See www.jeff cavins.com.) His faith journey mirrors many — the road to one’s faith is rarely straight. He is recognized both nationally and internationally as an exciting public speaker who has a deep love for Jesus Christ and who communicates his zeal with clarity and enthusiasm. After 12 years as a Protestant pastor, Cavins returned to the Catholic Church.
In 2012, the Dichraffs traveled with Cavins and his wife Emily on a 14-day annual group pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a life-changing experience for the Dichraffs. A detailed photo album is a treasured keepsake for the couple.
“We were inspired by the trip and we were inspired to share our faith,” said Roseann. And Cavins asked all those on the pilgrimage to share what they learned in the Holy Land with others. “Go back to your community and give back,” she said he told them.
And so began a new chapter in the Dichraffs’ faith journey. On the plane trip home they talked about ways they could enhance their faith community and they quickly decided a Bible study was what they wanted to offer.
“Look how this has changed our life,” said Roseann, who also serves as the new parish nurse at Resurrection Parish. Bill is a local dentist. The couple met as students at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Bill explained that “A Quick Journey Through the Bible” provides “a light overview” of the Bible. It is similar to the extensive 24-part series that they took over a year and a-half period in that it puts the Bible in easy-to-understand historical context. “It’s really cool,” said Roseann.
Originally the Dichraffs had thought about hosting the 24-part “Great Adventure” series, but were encouraged by Ascension Press to offer this quicker eight-part series.
It was a good decision. For busy individuals it includes lighter reading, a half-hour film each session presented by Cavins and discussion time. For those who don’t have time to do the reading, they still get a lot out of the program, the Dichraffs said.
The results have been “amazing” through this Bible study, they agree, and their hope is that someone else will take it on in the future so that others can experience “A Quick Journey Through the Bible” as well.
It is their further hope, they say, that from this group of 57 people a new core group will emerge that will want to delve deeper and pursue continued Bible study just as they have.
As for the Dichraffs, they will be participating in another long-term Bible study themselves. Their plan is to take Cavins’ “The Biblical Walk Through the Mass” next.
“Our faith is on fire,” said Roseann.