Workshops are designed to help people discern their gifts
By Linda Oppelt
COLORADO SPRINGS. Do you know with which spiritual gifts you have been blessed, as part of your baptism and call to be a light to the world?
The Diocese of Colorado Springs is offering two opportunities to all parishioners of the diocese to attend an initial workshop of the Called and Gifted Discernment Process, a three-part program that helps lay Catholics discern their individual charisms.
The workshops will be held in early Lent — March 4 at St. Gabriel Parish in Colorado Springs, and March 11 at Ave Maria Parish in Parker. Both workshops are from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A $40 registration fee covers the cost of materials as well as lunch and refreshments.
Saint Paul lists the variety of spiritual gifts within the Church, and their essential importance, in multiple places (see Romans Ch. 8:6-8, Eph. Ch. 4: 7-16, and especially 1 Cor. Ch. 12).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 799, defines charisms as “graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.” Furthermore, in # 801: “discernment of charisms is always necessary.”
The Called and Gifted Discernment Process is an offering of the Catherine of Siena Institute (CSI), located in Colorado Springs. Sherry Weddell, co-founder and Executive Director of the institute and creator of the process, and Katherine Coolidge, Director for Parish and Diocesan Services, will be the presenters for both diocesan workshops.
The workshop itself is only the beginning of discernment. (Registrants will receive a link to an online spiritual gifts inventory beforehand. This inventory helps participants become aware of a few possible charisms to consider discerning.) During the workshop, charisms and the discernment process are explained in greater detail. Examples from saints, teachings of the Church and stories of contemporary experiences with charisms provide insight and inspiration to continue through the additional steps of discernment.
These additional steps include a one-on-one, one-hour spiritual gifts interview, which may take place in person, over the phone or virtually, with a trained interviewer, to help the participant decide where to start their own discernment, based on the results of their spiritual gifts inventory.
The third step, discernment in depth, is “a six-to-eight week guided experience of intentional discernment,” as described by the CSI Called and Gifted brochure. This part may be done individually or in small groups. The resource book received at the workshop provides details about this deeper discernment process, during which one possible charism is tested by being intentionally put into practice. Because charisms are gifts for others it is important to become aware of the effects a particular charism has on another person or people.
According to CSI, some examples of charisms include prophecy, healing, or discernment of spirits, which are often seen as extraordinary, and also charisms that seem quite “ordinary” such as administration, service, hospitality, or mercy, “but all charisms are empowered by God. We use our charisms together with our natural talents and all that we are to serve God and our neighbor.”
The Called and Gifted process has been hosted by many parishes of the diocese in the last 20 years. But even if someone has attended a previous CSI workshop, it would still be beneficial to attend one of the current workshops. Much of the material has been updated and there are many online resources to help with discernment that were not available previously.
Both Bishop James Golka and Gary Niemerg, Diocesan Director of Catechesis, Evangelization, and Youth Ministry, have had prior experience with Called and Gifted as well as with Weddell’s other work with CSI. Niemerg and Father Mark Zacker, at the time both at Corpus Christi Parish, presented the Called and Gifted workshop there eight years ago.
Bishop Golka explained, “For many years I have appreciated Sherry Weddell’s work, and have used some of her intentional discipleship tools and books in former parishes that I served in. So as we met with her, we asked her ‘If you could have our diocese for a certain period of time, where would you begin, to help us grow disciples who are intentional, who let Christ lead their life, to better serve him?’”
The definitive answer to this question was to provide the opportunity for all parishioners to discern their charisms through the Called and Gifted process.
For more information and to sign up for the March 4 or March 11 workshop, visit www.diocs.org/called-gifted.
A third opportunity to attend a Called and Gifted Workshop will be on April 29, at Divine Redeemer Parish. The Divine Redeemer workshop will be presented by Sherry Weddell.
With regards to the Divine Redeemer workshop, Niemerg said it’s important not to see it as competition but rather simply as an additional opportunity.
“These two (March 4 and March 11 workshops) are right after the other. If somebody’s gone for two weeks, (the Divine Redeemer workshop) works great . . . I would love it if they got 200 people there.”
To register for the Divine Redeemer April 29 workshop, contact DeAnna Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-234-0342.
Weddell included the following encouragement to anyone wondering if they should attend: “You were created to be a channel of God’s beauty, provision, healing, and truth for others. There is someone out there right now, who is waiting for what you have been given to give, and their life hangs in the balance. You may not have met them yet. They may not even have been born yet. But in God’s Providence, you are the one who has been called and gifted for their sake. It matters that you say “yes!’”
(Linda Oppelt is administrative assistant for the Herald.)