by Moira Cullings
SHAWNEE — Linda Mayer was a little leery when she first heard about Catherine of Siena Institute’s Called and Gifted program.
The program helps participants discover their unique charisms, and Mayer wasn’t convinced she hadn’t already done that herself.
“I’ve had this much life experience,” she thought. “How am I going to find out anything new?”
“But I was encouraged to go by somebody who really found it wonderful for them,” she continued. “I thought, ‘Maybe the Holy Spirit’s working here. Maybe I ought to listen.’”
Mayer attended a Called and Gifted workshop around three years ago and was unexpectedly impressed.
On Sept. 11, she attended the second of three workshops being held at her home parish, Good Shepherd in Shawnee — but this time as an organizer.
Around 40 people are currently participating in the program through Good Shepherd — some in person and some online.
John Dahlstrand, consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization, is the facilitator. He’s been eager for more Catholics to find out what their charisms are and how they can change their lives.
“Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit at the time of baptism and renewed at confirmation,” he said.
Participants discover their top charisms after filling out an in-depth questionnaire during the workshop segment of the program.
They learn more about the charisms by watching videos that include personal testimonies and discuss well-known saints who displayed certain charisms in their own lives.
When Mayer first went through the program and discovered her charisms, it brought clarity to her life.
The results confirmed some of the talents she was utilizing in her job as a nurse, and she was moved to get involved with Good Shepherd’s religious education program to cultivate her gifts even more.
“It can bring so much joy,” she said, “because if you find out where those gifts are, things are joyful, they’re easier and you see wonderful results that you might not see all by yourself.”
After the workshop portion, Called and Gifted offers an interview process and continued discernment through small groups.
During the interview process, participants talk with a trained interviewer — someone like Mayer — to figure out a plan for how they can refine their unique charisms and use them in an intentional way.
The archdiocese has around 20 interviewers available for this stage, said Dahlstrand.
Finally, the program concludes with a discernment phase, which typically involves small group discussions where participants can share how their progress is going and give each other feedback.
Father Kent O’Connor, pastor of Good Shepherd, has been impressed by the program.
“A basic Christian principle is ‘Know thyself,’” he said. “If we know God is calling us and the charisms that he has given us, then all the better our lives and our church will be.”
He hopes those participating will receive clarity on God’s call in their own lives.
“I believe that leads to more fulfilling lives, as well as opening our lives, our church and our world to the grace God wishes to give us,” he said.
This type of faith development opportunity is one small piece of the evangelization puzzle in the archdiocese.
“Part of the mission of the office of evangelization is to encourage personal prayer and provide formation opportunities that foster missionary discipleship,” said Dahlstrand.
Called and Gifted is one way that mission is being lived out in northeast Kansas.
“God is calling all of us to a unique purpose in life and a certain work that only we can do,” said Dahlstrand. “Discernment of charisms allows us to further discern God’s call and ultimately answer his call.”
To learn more about Called and Gifted, visit the archdiocesan website at: archkck.org/called-gifted.