Lawrence women find better ‘way’ into Bible study

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

LAWRENCE — Catrina Loney had a hunger for Scripture study, but she was tired of Bible studies where the only spirit present was a spirit of confusion.

Loney participated in a number of Protestant Bible studies over the years, even after she became a Catholic. Her frustration with the lack of direction in these studies came to a head nine years ago.

“I was in a Protestant Bible study, sitting around a table with three other gals who had three different opinions about what it took to be saved,” said Loney, a member of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center’s permanent community.

“Here they claimed the Holy Spirit was leading them to what they believed, but they all believed different things,” she continued. “So I figured it wasn’t the Holy Spirit that was confused, but [them].”

Loney and nine other women — all members of the St. Lawrence community — finally found a Bible study that made sense. In September 2008, they began the Catholic Way Bible Study, which originated in the Diocese of Lexington, Ky.

This Bible study came to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas through a chance encounter between one member of the Bible study group — Mary-Elizabeth (Debicki) Guinness — and a couple that had experience with the Catholic Way Bible Study.

Guinness went on pilgrimage to Israel in 2007 with her two daughters and some 40 other people. Among the pilgrims were two women from Minnesota who were using the Catholic Way, as well as Lavinia Spirito, the pilgrimage leader and the Bible study’s founding team teaching leader.

“After talking to these women on the trip, I said, ‘I want to do the same thing’” said Guinness. “They said, ‘We made DVDs of Lavinia’s [Bible study] lectures, and we invite you to order a set and decide if you’d like to set up a group on your own.”

The series seemed to offer what Guinness and some of her friends in the St. Lawrence community were looking for: a thoroughly Catholic Bible study for adult women.

Guinness and her friends asked Father Steve Beseau, the St. Lawrence Center director, to check out the Bible study. He gave it his blessing and they began to study the Gospel of Luke in September 2008.

The Catholic Way Bible Study offers a program that includes daily Bible reading, study, and weekly lessons. These lessons include group discussions, a lecture on DVD, prayer and fellowship.

Guinness’ 10-person group meets every Thursday.

“It has been the most eye-opening, exciting experience,” said Guinness. “[We] can’t believe how fortunate we are, and how much we love what we’re doing. We’ve learned so much more about our faith than we’ve ever known.”

Some of the members are cradle Catholics who had gone to Protestant Bible studies when they couldn’t find a suitable Catholic program. Becky Gibson is one of them.

“Mary-Elizabeth and I are friends,” said Gibson. “After visiting after Mass, I told her I was tired of going to Protestant Bible studies. I’d gone to quite a few.”

She sees a big difference between Catholic and Protestant Bible studies. The traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church offer clear guidance to understanding Scripture, while Protestant studies lead to individualistic interpretations.

“I had been to [a Catholic Bible study] in Houston, and we studied the Old Testament and thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Gibson. “So I was hungry to do more when I moved to Lawrence.”

The Catholic Way Bible Study has led Gibson and the other women in the group to a deeper knowledge and appreciation of their Catholic faith. The format is easy to understand, and the DVD instruction is clear.

“It’s user-friendly,” said Gibson. “We like the format and we like the questions. We watch the DVD and that kind of ensures we’re moving along the same path. And we really like the history [Spirito] brings in.”

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