Gifted and Sent Ministries conducted a four-part event in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend at St. Catherine Nix Settlement in Columbia City Aug. 22. Gifted and Sent Ministries is co-led by Jessica Smith and states as its mission to “inspire and empower Catholics to spread the love of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Her team has taken the missionary evangelization series to parishes from Mishawaka to Decatur.
Smith is not a stranger to adult ministry, having started at 19. In recent years she stepped away from some of her ministry commitments but said she couldn’t help but feel a longing in her heart and being called by God to, once again, come back to ministry. When the longing persisted, she asked God where and how ministry could fit into her life again. Ten minutes later, she received a text from Father Andrew Curry, pastor at St. John Bosco, Churubusco and Immaculate Conception, Ege, Parishes; together they founded what would become Gifted and Sent Ministries.
Father Curry had the vision to create a center for evangelization, a place for parishioners to go to have experiences with spiritual gifts and healing prayer. Smith replied that if such a center would “pop up tomorrow, no one in the diocese would come” because not many people have experienced charismatic prayer, or they think it’s weird, and it’s out of their comfort zone. To engage the most people, they would need to go to them in the comfort of their own communities, the two decided. That’s when Gifted and Sent Ministries was born.
The four parts of the missionary evangelization are keynote, healing service, adoration and workshops.
The keynote is about how a relationship with the Holy Spirit can be transformative if a person knows how to use the gifts with which the Holy Spirit empowers them. The healing service focuses on discovering the power to heal by prayer and the laying of hands. The service is followed by adoration, spending time in the presence of Jesus with music and meditative guidance. The evening ends with a reflection on the eight Beatitudes.
The final component is a faith-seeking workshop. The workshops are entry-level, for those who have been inspired and “need the skill set to dive deeper and to be confident in sharing this relationship that they are even now more engaged in,” Smith said.
This faith-seeking series exceeded Smith’s expectations regarding how quickly they were able to get into parishes and experience a positive reception from parishioners.
The most impactful events are made so by the energy of the people, she noted. One of the biggest Gifted and Sent series to date was at St. Paul of the Cross, with more than 90 parishioners coming together for the healing service.
There have been several accounts of people going to a Gifted and Sent keynote or healing service more than once by traveling to other parishes. There also have been times where a person goes back to his or her own parish to find a way to get Gifted and Sent Ministries to come to their parish.
She said that in a weird way, the coronavirus contributed to some of the ministry’s success. After lockdowns, “people were just so hungry for connection and any type of ministry or catechesis that they could get.”
But it wasn’t always a positive. Because of the virus, some parishes were hesitant to let Gifted and Sent Ministries come in.
In Smith’s keynote, she includes a quote from Pope Benedict XVI: “The Holy Spirit is the least known person of the Trinity,” which convinced Gifted and Sent Ministries of the importance of becoming a “conduit to what the Holy Spirit wants to do.” With every person who attends the series, Smith and her crew bring a renewal of faith and new knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit that the person might not have experienced before.
Gifted and Sent Ministries hasn’t just impacted attendees, but also Smith and her family. They have been on fire for the Holy Spirit since starting this ministry, she said. She has watched them use their own giftedness and be open to healing, and they have “dove deep into this relationship.”
One of her daughters has only missed two events. Her triplets have become involved in the healing services. Another of her daughters has an active role in the workshops. Each person in her family has grown a closer relationship to God and the Holy Spirit, making this Smith’s favorite part of Gifted and Sent Ministries since the ministry began.
The goal of Gifted and Sent Ministries is to visit every parish in the diocese. With 10 parishes down, there are a lot to go. There have also been requests from parishes Gifted and Sent Ministries has visited for them to return.
Any parish interested in more information or inviting Gifted and Sent Ministries should visit the ministry’s website, giftedandsentministries.com, or its Facebook page.
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