When people discover their vocation and gifts, parishes and the wider church are renewed and revitalised: Sydney priest Fr John Armstrong says that Catholic evangelist and author Sherry Weddell will encourage people to identity where God is working in their life and the life of their parish communities, when she visits next month.
The co-founder and executive director of the US-based Catherine of Siena Institute will present at two events open to all at the invitation of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
Charisms: The Power of the Holy Spirit Unleashed aims to equip clergy, religious and laity to understand how discerning our charisms (spiritual gifts given at baptism) can help us to recognise how God is calling us to live and serve as Catholics.
Fr Armstrong is the spiritual director for the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush and has also invited the popular speaker to address its seminarians during her visit.
He trained in her widely-known Called and Gifted program about 20 years ago and applied it successfully in helping parishioners to see themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ and capable of renewing parish life.
For him, learning how to identify his own gift for spiritual direction within his vocation as a priest freed him up more for ministry and helped him to recognise other people’s charisms that might complement his own.
“What we found is that people took up new opportunities and were able to experiment a bit with areas in which they felt more called,” Fr Armstrong said.
“When I was in Canberra, for example, we got a very successful catechesis program going which had ended up with about 100 children attending on a regular basis, and we had an intercessory group of people praying for those suffering from cancer.
“Some people made radical shifts in their employment, moving to another line of work which they felt drew more on their talents.
“So it’s not about saying ‘Come along to this meeting and we’ll give you a job to do in the parish.’ It’s actually enabling you and freeing you up to be more yourself and more a member of the Catholic community.”
Fr Armstrong said Ms Weddell will highlight for seminarians the importance of helping people to recognise how the Holy Spirit works in their lives.
“It’s not an extraordinary thing, but more the bread and butter of our Catholic life to notice how the Holy Spirit is at work,” he said.
The Charisms: The Power of the Holy Spirit Unleashed presented by Sherry Weddell 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 available to anyone 18 years and over.
For tickets go to www.gomakedisciples.org.au/cas-events/