Diocese begins Appleton-based ‘Encounter School of Ministry’

Two-year program to prepare missionary disciples

UPDATE:

ALLOUEZ — Do you want to experience supernatural moments in everyday life? Do you want  the Gospel proclaimed with signs and wonders like those you read about in the Bible or the lives of saints? Do you believe God has a plan for you, a purpose that you and you alone are here to do, so the Kingdom can become more present here?

If so, the Encounter School of Ministry, which opens in the Green Bay Diocese this September, may be for you.

Encounter School of Ministry is a two-year missionary leadership training program.

Maximus Cabey, director of the local campus. Explained the program as “designed to equip baptized Catholics, who are already living as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be able to come into the fullness of the baptismal identity and to grow in recognizing and using the charisms God has given them.”

He added that the school is set up to help students learn to “bring renewal to their communities and to evangelize anyone and everyone in their sphere of influence.”

Cabey is also the child and youth faith formation director and ecumenical officer for the Green Bay Diocese.

Encounter is based in Brighton, Mich., with 17 satellite campuses around the country, as well as in Ireland and Australia. In the Diocese of Green Bay, the school will be located at St. Thomas More Parish in Appleton.

Cabey said that, originally, they had thought the school would be located in Green Bay and were looking for a campus site. “We had to start advertising,” he said. “So we published something on Facebook and, within 24 hours, there was an email from Deacon Lincoln Wood (pastoral leader) and his team, asking us to come to St. Thomas More.“

Deacon Wood said he felt that his parish had a clear call from the Holy Spirit.

“When I first came to St. Thomas More, I had the sense that we were being called to be a school of missionary discipleship,” he said. “This sense of the parish’s call wasn’t exactly a vision, but it was a very clear sense that God was preparing St. Thomas More Parish to become a school of missionary discipleship. At the (diocesan) Clergy Congress that year, Bishop (David)  Ricken made it clear that the formation of missionary disciple leaders was the most important thing we needed to be doing.

“When I saw that the Encounter School of Ministry was looking for a site for a satellite campus in our diocese, I got a clear impression that this was the Spirit working to help make the missionary discipleship school a reality,” he continued. When people on his leadership team and the pastoral council voiced their support, Deacon Wood said he knew the Spirit was at work.

After touring the Appleton parish and its facilities and praying to the Holy Spirit, Cabey said he also knew that “St. Thomas More is home.”

Deacon Wood is excited about the new project. “Having the school at St. Thomas More will give the parishioners, and others in the diocese, access to high-quality training in using their spiritual gifts to bring about God’s kingdom. What can be better than that?” he said.

The diocesan link with the Michigan-based school goes back to 2019. That October, the Green Bay Diocese’s annual Discipleship Seminar was led by Fr. Mathais Thelen and Patrick Reis from Encounter. In December 2019, Reis also spoke at the Green Bay Youth Conference.

As Cabey was driving Reis from the airport that December day, Reis asked him “to be director for a satellite campus here,” Cabey said. “I missed the exit when he said that.”

While surprised by the request, Cabey and his wife, Photini, explored and prayed about it. Cabey also presented it to Peter Murphy, team leader of the families and schools of discipleship mission team for the Green Bay Diocese. Intrigued, they both approached Bishop Ricken, who decided to attend an Encounter workshop with Cabey in Toledo in January 2020. Impressed by what he saw there, the bishop gave his full support to the satellite campus.

Bishop Ricken has a diocesan goal to bring forth 1,000 missionary leaders who will in turn raise up 25,000 missionary disciples by 2025. Encounter School of Ministry fits that plan and consists of eight quarters of study, each focused on a different aspect of discipleship, such as inner healing, healing prayer and learning the language of the Holy Spirit.

For example, the first quarter is called “Identity and Transformation.” It focuses “on the royal identity we receive as sons and daughters of God who have received an inheritance to do the works of Jesus and even greater works (Jn 14:12).”

Because the school and its charismatic approach may be a new concept for many people, there will be an immersion experience Aug. 16-19 at St. Thomas More. Cabey called it “a sample platter” exploring each of the quarters in overview form, from 6 to 9 p.m. each evening. The main speaker for the last evening will be Sarah Kaczmarek, director of pastoral ministry at Encounter and overseer of the Encounter School of Ministry. Cabey said Kaczmarek is licensed in counseling and “trained in all the aspects of inner healing.” The Cabeys will be the main speakers for the rest of the immersion experience.

Cost for the immersion experience is $70, with half price discounts offered to priests, seminarians, college students and members of religious orders.

So who should consider the immersion experience or the full two-year program?

“Wherever you are called, you have a call within a call,” said Cabey. “If you’re working at a bank as a custodian. Maybe you are a doctor.  … Whatever your sphere of influence might be, you are all called to be disciples and to give witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and be able to provide a good reason for the hope we have in that biblical context. Who should do this? Anybody who wants to bring Jesus into everyday situations, so as many people as possible can go to heaven, should be interested in doing this.”

Cabey thought a moment longer and added: “God is looking for people like that. Encounter School of Ministry is not for superstars, it’s for the everyday ‘little old me’s’ who long to make a difference. “

For more information, visit encounterschool.org/greenbay/ or contact Cabey at (920) 272-8288.