OSHKOSH — “We are missionary disciples striving to lead all people to the Kingdom of God,” the Diocese of Green Bay states. A diocesan-wide workshop being planned for Saturday, March 12, will help attendees discern how they can be called to serve as disciples using their own unique gifts.
The “Called and Gifted” workshop will be held at St. Raphael the Archangel Church from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A $50 registration fee includes all materials, lunch and refreshments. Scholarships are available to anyone who needs financial assistance.
The bulk of the funding is supported by the Bishop’s Appeal, which will cover expenses for workshop facilitators from the St. Catherine of Siena Institute and other fees.
Developed by the Siena Institute, the workshop is aimed at helping people discover their unique charisms, or spiritual gifts, said Stacy Humbert, missionary discipleship director for the Diocese of Green Bay.
“A disciple is a friend and follower of Jesus,” she said. “Anybody who has said ‘yes’ to the Lord can be a person who looks at their spiritual gifts. ‘Discernment’ is taking the time to learn through prayer what God has given us. ‘Charisms’ are special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to give them power, both to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness to all people.
“The main thing is to help Catholics take the time to get away for a day and spend time with the Lord through this retreat-like experience,” added Humbert.
Deacon Greg Grey, who leads the stewardship commission at St. Raphael Parish, is helping to coordinate the workshop. “There are two ways to look at what your gifts from God might be,” he said. One is to ask, “What am I good at?” and the other is to discern those God-given gifts, he said.
“Those are talents that drive folks to sign up for various ministries,” he said. “They’re needed. But with this workshop, we’re trying to help folks discern their charisms, God-given spiritual gifts. These are the ways God intends his love to reach others through you. That’s totally different from discovering your talents.”
Humbert added that charism discernment “is a really effective process to help disciples see and learn what their God-given charisms are, the gifts of the Holy Spirit that everyone receives. A charism is given to each individual with the sole intent of helping others. This discernment is very helpful to becoming equipped to be a missionary disciple.”
She said examples of charisms could be in writing, music, craftsmanship, administration, hospitality and leadership.
Preparation for the workshop began in November with the Called and Gifted Team Training. Fourteen people from around the diocese — both volunteers and those who work for the church in various capacities — were trained to conduct “one-on-one gifts interviews” at the workshop and facilitation for further discernment of charisms after the workshop.
Deacon Grey said St. Raphael Parish wanted to sponsor the workshop after consideration by himself and Fr. Tom Long, pastor. “We’ve got a very large parish with members in various stages of their faith journey,” he said. “This is something to enhance their faith journey by opening up their minds to what their spiritual gifts really are.”
He said charisms can include communication, organization and lifestyle gifts. “Maybe you’ve got a charism that relates to empathy. With somebody who has been through a lot, you can be the person they can lean on,” he said. “How do you discern those, what do you do with them? … We hope you will use them for the good of everybody. Charisms are spiritual gifts you got through baptism and confirmation. God’s love can reach others through you.”
Humbert said the discernment process can be profound. “It’s beautiful to see when a person realizes that God has given them someone unique and a special gift for them to help others,” she said. “So often we don’t realize how beloved we are and how special we are to God and his plan that he has set out for us. Doing this retreat can really bring that to the surface for people.”