“I’m Renewed... Now What?” Discerning Service Using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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Staton, Sandra
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
There is an adult faith formation program in my parish called Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP). A group of 25-30 people attends a renewal weekend with separate weekends for women and men. They are invited into a 10-month formation process in which they learn what it means to live with Christ as the center of their lives and to grow deeper into their awareness of their faith and spirituality. Special focus is given to scripture, prayer, reconciliation and the Eucharist. At the end of the 10 months, they give the renewal weekend to a new group of men or women and the cycle continues. I chose this ministry as a focus for my project because of a personal desire to help those who go through this program. I completed my first Christ Renews His Parish process in 2005. I ended the experience hungry for more. After formation ended, I tried a few ministries and bible studies in my parish but left feeling empty and disappointed. I did not find others sharing on the deeper, incarnational level I had learned in CRHP and did not know how to find it. I discerned that I would go through the CRHP process again with a new team in 2008. At the end of that experience, the CRHP Continuation Committee, the group of past leaders in the CRHP ministry, had reinstated something called an Evening of Pentecost. The intention of the evening, among other objectives, was to “call individual team members to a continuing commitment to spiritual growth and ministry” as well as “to present parish opportunities for growth and service” (CRHP Handbook, Part 3, p 35). While this was an improvement over having no process at all, it soon evolved into a leader passing around a list of ministries and asking people to sign up for them. It did not provide a connection between the renewal experience, the new awareness of a deeper relationship with Jesus and with each other, and the call to live as a disciple of Christ. People expressed a desire to do more than serve. They wanted to serve out of their new, deeper relationship with Jesus and each other. They wanted to bring together their own personal growth and the desire to serve the needs of the community.