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Discern your gifts to bring your faith and parish alive

Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues is a journalist for The Catholic Weekly. She also writes at Email her at [email protected]
Renate Cassis, left, Jacky Krsnik, Melanie Dooner and Fr Chris Ryan MGL from St Declan’s Penshurst. PHOTO: GIOVANNI PORTELLI

Jacky Krsnik never thought of herself as having leadership potential until she was invited to reflect upon the spiritual gifts given to her at her baptism.

Now in her 40s, the parishioner of St Declan’s at Penshurst said it was only through her parish that she has been given the space to recognise and cultivate her spiritual gifts, also called charisms, which bring her fulfilment while also contributing to the church’s mission.

She serves on the parish’s senior leadership team and co-ordinates its “life groups,” fortnightly small groups of people who want to grow in their faith together.

She says she also now has a keener sensitivity to identifying other people’s gifts too.

“I had an inclination in that direction of leadership but never really had a chance to experiment with it, looking back I can see that it was always there,” Mrs Krsnik said.

“The parish has been an amazing place for me to explore my gifts.

“When people can recognise and lean into their gifts that then grows, you see them really flourish and the wider parish ministry takes off as well.”

The southern Sydney parish has made it a focus to get past the “warm-body syndrome” of calling for people to volunteer for ministries on an as-needs basis.

In its vision document are the words, “We want to be a community where people discover and use their gifts for and alongside others.”

Angela Yap takes time amid a busy life raising young children to offer her marketing expertise, which includes coordinating the parish’s website and social media presence as part of its small digital team.

She also offers her skills to the parish music ministry.

Jacky Krsnik and Angela Yap say identifying their spiritual gifts has helped them flourish in life. Photo: Supplied
Jacky Krsnik and Angela Yap say identifying their spiritual gifts has helped them flourish in life. Photo: Supplied

“It’s been really great to be able to use the creative side of my brain while evangelising in a small way and helping the parish’s mission,” she said.

“I really enjoy seeing people engage with the posts I put up and the messages I get from people, which show that they’ve been touched by something they’ve seen.

“Some people who don’t go to church follow our posts, which shows there’s a level of engagement with us.

“I just pray that if they come to a crossroads in their life and need support they will remember that we are here.

“It’s great to be able to minister during a tough season in life when we’ve got very young kids and are low on time.

“Making it a priority to serve God is rewarding and it is rewarding to see how many blessings come to others from it as well.”

Last year parish priest Fr Chris Ryan MGL ran a workshop to help parishioners to identify and develop their personal charisms, which Mrs Krsnik supported.

She’s now looking forward to hearing more from Sherry Weddell, a world-renowned expert in the area of charisms and their place in missionary discipleship, when she visits Sydney this month.

Visiting at the invitation of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, Weddell will appear at two exclusive events dedicated to helping people explore the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives and renewing the church for mission.

The co-founder and executive director of the US-based Catherine of Siena Institute, she will present her highly acclaimed Charisms: The Power of the Holy Spirit Unleashed, aimed to equip clergy, religious and laity to understand how discerning our charisms can help us to recognise how God is calling us to serve in his Church.

The events in Sydney will be held on 22 May at the Liverpool Catholic Club and on 24 May at ACU’s Strathfield Campus.

Tickets cost $30 plus booking fee and are now available to anyone 18 years and over.
For tickets go to

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