Sunday, 02 October 2016 20:49

Do you feel the tug of the Holy Spirit?

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I visited with Bishop Eugene Gerber, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita a few weeks ago. I told him about our diocesan efforts to begin to encourage “Discipleship as a Way of Life” as has been the “way of life” in his diocese since the early 1980s. (Wichita is the only diocese which is 100 percent a total stewardship [discipleship] diocese in the United States.)

I visited with Bishop Eugene Gerber, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita a few weeks ago. I told him about our diocesan efforts to begin to encourage “Discipleship as a Way of Life” as has been the “way of life” in his diocese since the early 1980s. (Wichita is the only diocese which is 100 percent a total stewardship [discipleship] diocese in the United States.)

I shared with him how for this first year we have been gathering key representatives from the 129 parishes of our diocese for a series of formation sessions on this “way of life.” Likewise (as he fully knows and understands) we are encouraging all our priests who serve in the diocese along with all religious sisters who are parish administrators, and deacons to embrace becoming an “intentional disciple” as Sherry Weddell strongly encourages in her book, Forming Intentional Disciples.

So many of our wonderful folks who have been a part of this formation seem very eager to “get going” with this mission at the parish level. This is so exciting to see and we applaud their zealous desire to “move forward.” I have tried to impress upon them how in this first year, it is all about making sure we have already become intentional disciples. It is only then that we can together go forth taking this “way of life” to the consideration and discernment of our diocesan family at the parish level.

I read recently that, “Too often we focus on the one being called … ,” when we look at stewardship and discipleship as a way of life. They warn that first we must focus on the “One who is calling.” From this focus we develop and deepen our own personal relationship with the Lord. From that deepening and growth, we will be more able to focus on this unique call to embrace “Discipleship as a Way of Life.”

I asked Bishop Gerber if he felt we were on the right path to stay committed this first year — doing this formation of our first key “intentional disciples” — and he said he completely supported this plan of attack. He said when the Diocese of Wichita began they spent two years just talking, visioning, and praying as he went around the diocese to each parish. (Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has begun his parish visitations to meet and share with leadership folks his hopes for our own growth as a local church.)

Bishop Gerber shared with me that when some wanted to quickly move forward, but he felt they needed more time to keep sharing and listening to the Holy Spirit’s lead, he often told this story: There was a boy named Johnny who lived near his church. Often he could be seen on the parish grounds flying a kite. What was particularly unique about him was that he was blind. Father Joe would see him flying his kite, and one day he went out to talk to him. He shared with Johnny how much he loved seeing him fly his kite, but asked him, “Johnny, since you are blind what do you get out of flying a kite you can’t see?” Johnny said, “I can feel the tug, and that’s enough for me.”

The point is that first we must spend some quality time checking out if we “feel the tug.” One thing we know for sure is that the Holy Spirit will always be “tugging” us. Do we feel the tug? We need to remain patient this year and just simply center our formation on “feeling the tug.” We can even celebrate the fact that our God loves us and has chosen us to allow “this tug” to take place — because we are a part of his plan for the future growth of our parishes and diocese.

I was moved to tears when Bishop Gerber shared the story of Johnny, and I realize it was because I too was “feeling the tug.” It’s awesome to come to that realization that God wants me and you to “get on board.” God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

This past week Father John Jirak and Renee Riter from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita came to speak to our 400 and more representatives, and then to lead the priest’s four-day convocation in Quincy. Father John and Renee are amazing speakers, both on fire, living their life and ministry as “intentional disciples.” I hope you will pray for our priests that these four days truly touched the core of who each of our priests choose to be as they minister to the parishes and ministries they serve. We must seek for a 100 percent response from all our priests to make “Discipleship as a Way of Life” personally in their own life, and to claim to live their priesthood as true “intentional disciples.” I prayed so much this message can and will encourage us to be “priests of joy,” serving the Lord in (gratitude and) gladness.

“Come Holy (Spirit) Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest; come with thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts, which Thou has made.” May our prayer in our journeys ahead be that we can “feel the tug” each and every day. For today I believe this can be enough until we create more “intentional disciples.” But get ready, because then he will take us deeper, and his call will be more intense. Thank God that his promise is there is always “joy in the journey” if we place our trust in him.

This past week Father John Jirak and Renee Riter from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita came to speak to our 400 and more representatives, and then to lead the priest’s four-day convocation in Quincy. Father John and Renee are amazing speakers, both on fire, living their life and ministry as “intentional disciples.” I hope you will pray for our priests that these four days truly touched the core of who each of our priests choose to be as they minister to the parishes and ministries they serve. We must seek for a 100 percent response from all our priests to make “Discipleship as a Way of Life” personally in their own life, and to claim to live their priesthood as true “intentional disciples.” I prayed so much this message can and will encourage us to be “priests of joy,” serving the Lord in (gratitude and) gladness.

“Come Holy (Spirit) Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest; come with thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts, which Thou has made.” May our prayer in our journeys ahead be that we can “feel the tug” each and every day. For today I believe this can be enough until we create more “intentional disciples.” But get ready, because then he will take us deeper, and his call will be more intense. Thank God that his promise is there is always “joy in the journey” if we place our trust in him.