Scripture assures us that each Christian is given spiritual gifts. Two great Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, both write of the Holy Spirit granting spiritual gifts to be used to serve one another for the common good and to glorify God. St. Peter tells us, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10) St. Paul tells us, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Corinthians 12: 4-7)
However, it is often challenging to discern these gifts and how to best use them. The Called & Gifted process is aimed at helping people do this, and it is bearing good fruits throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
The Called & Gifted Discernment Process was created by the St. Catherine of Siena Institute and launched in 1993. Since then, more than 100,000 Catholics around the world have used the process to help discover their charisms, or the gifts they’ve been given through the Holy Spirit, and how they can use their charisms to help serve others and build the Church and their own communities.
Part One of the process is the Called & Gifted Workshop. In the workshop, participants begin to discern their charisms by taking the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory. This lays the foundation for the process. Part Two is a one-hour gifts interview to review the inventory results, recognize patterns that may indicate charisms, and choose one charism to further discern. Part Three aids in discerning the work of service in the world by using charism experiments, evaluating the results, and identifying ways in which childhood behaviors may prevent using charisms as an adult.
An increasing number of parishes around the diocese are holding Called & Gifted Workshops. Participants who complete the workshops are being guided to discover their charisms and give these gifts back to God by serving others, both in their parishes and in the wider world.
Jacklyn Sommers recently attended a Called & Gifted Workshop at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne. Having completed the RCIA process in 2021 and recently relocated to the Fort Wayne area, Sommers “felt somewhat lost and disconnected,” and a friend suggested that she attend a workshop. Sommers said, “I knew nothing about charisms, and I didn’t know anyone who would be attending, so I was a bit apprehensive at first, but the workshop was great. It covered a lot of information, but at a comfortable pace.
“First, they explain what charisms are by looking at Scripture and some of the ancient writings of the early Church. Then you complete the inventory, and several teachers, all of whom have completed the process previously, are there to encourage and guide you, and they give lots of examples.”
Questions in the inventory ask things like whether others have noticed a talent or whether certain things bring a person joy.
“For example, organizing things is easy for me and feels natural, but I don’t think it necessarily brings joy to me or to others. Or it might bring me some joy, but am I using it for God, and if not, could I be?” she continued.
“My favorite part was when they explained the charisms. It was exciting to hear that a talent or trait you have might also be a charism. It helps you know more about yourself and how you can best use your charisms for God and for others. This was a real page-turner for me … It was like an ‘epiphany’ feeling.”
Sommers is now in the second step of the process, “and the wheels are turning in my head, a growing awareness, which is key. I picked two of my higher-rated charisms to experiment with: craftsmanship and mercy. As a new Catholic in a new parish, it’s giving me confidence that I really do have these charisms inside me, and I can use them to serve others around me in the way God intended.”
SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington will hold a Called & Gifted workshop on Dec. 3. Drew Stuart, Director of Family Formation at the parish, said, “Charisms are gifts that are meant to be given away. And it’s these gifts that St. Paul talks about that are given to the Church to build it up. In St. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, you’ve heard of St. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ for the Church: We are many parts, but we’re all one body. Every person has at least one charism and a role they are called to play in the Church. The workshop is intended to take the first steps toward discerning what those gifts are so that we can begin living out that mission.”
Stuart further explained: “I’ve spoken with people who say that many of the people who stopped coming to church during the COVID pandemic have not come back, or that they feel that their spiritual life isn’t as good as it was before COVID. I personally feel that now is the time to do something like this. The Church is ripe for what Pope St. John Paul II called “the New Evangelization,” and I believe that discerning and fully using our charisms are a way we can do that. We need these charisms now more than ever to help rebuild the Church.”
“I’ve already recommended the workshop to other people,” said Sommers. “I have a sister who is now in the RCIA process and another sister considering it, and I’ve recommended the workshop to them. I think the Called & Gifted process would be a natural next step after RCIA to help guide new Catholics in how to move to the next stage in their faith journey. And it’s for people of all ages.” Participants in the workshop she attended ranged from teenagers to retirees and ages in between.
“In the workshop, they say you are learning this for the rest of your life. You also start to see charisms in other people, and this helps you encourage them.”
Stuart agreed. “The workshop is an enriching experience for most people. I’ve seen it change the outlook of several of our parishioners who said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I have this gift!’ And while not all of them are actively involved in ministry here at the parish, they’ve learned how to use these gifts to help others. And that’s very important for all of us.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Called & Gifted Discernment Process or would like to attend a workshop can visit the St. Catherine of Siena Institute at siena.org.
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