Chuck Clark of Knights of Columbus Council 10641 at St. Alphonsus Church in Covington, Tenn., right, makes a point during a small group discussion at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville, Tenn., March 18, 2022, during a Knights’ evangelization training program. (CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register)
The gift of a small group experience
BY DR. JEFF ANDRINI, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
My wife and I were blessed to meet after college as we served on the National Evangelization Teams (NET) based in St. Paul, Minn. As a Catholic ministry, we worked with parishes around the U.S. hosting parish retreats and leading small groups with teens. Throughout our marriage, we have witnessed the power of small groups in working with young people and have participated in an adult small group in two different parishes where we were members in Illinois and Michigan. These experiences have been the source of incredible blessings.
Young people thrive in a community where they feel loved and supported and small faith groups provide amazing opportunities for facilitators and group members to express care and grow in friendship with one another. It is what we call “relational ministry,” and it works! Additionally, adult small groups are one of the best ways for adults to grow in expressing and understanding their faith. These groups foster a sense of belonging and connectedness that sadly many Catholics never experience. Through no fault of our own, many Catholics learn that faith is very personal and often adult Catholics feel ill-equipped to explain or defend their faith, and are rather timid about faith conversations for a fear of looking dumb or being corrected.
Adults learn best in dialogue. This is a principle of adult education and adults need space to talk about their experiences and hear the stories of others. They need safe places where they can share their understanding, talk about faith issues, and learn from the wisdom of the group and our Church.
Have you ever participated in a small faith group in your Church? Perhaps you went on a Cursillo weekend and formed a small group that continues to meet 20 years later. Maybe you participated in Renew or Arise through the diocese. Many Catholics have never been in a small faith group.
All adult Catholics in our diocese are invited to participate in the Acts 2:42 Small Groups that are forming across the diocese as an effort of the Eucharistic Revival in the United States. These groups will meet monthly September 2023 through May 2024 and Bishop Medley will be the primary teacher for each session!
Ideally, these groups will meet in parishioners’ homes and be facilitated by a Host Team, which can be a married couple or two friends. These groups will be non-threatening, enjoyable gatherings with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and the opportunity to end with dessert. There will be time to share stories of faith, read an excerpt from Scripture or Church teaching, listen to a reflection by Bishop Medley and discuss the material. We will end with prayer and social time. As you learn more about this opportunity in your parish, please prayerfully consider opening your home and/or facilitating a group. Join us in prayer for this effort.
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. He wants to hear from you and maybe feature your questions in his column! Please email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally printed in the February 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.