Column: Embracing discipleship in the next generation

by Matt Karr

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he commissioned his apostles with these words:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

So what does it mean to make disciples?

Discipleship is more than a surface-level conversion — it implies a deep level of commitment to the teaching of Christ and an even deeper personal adherence to Jesus himself! One of the primary works of evangelization is to help people become disciples of Jesus by observing all he teaches and by giving their whole lives to him!

One way we are reaching out to young adults to help them embrace this radical call to discipleship is through the Saint Paul’s Outreach (SPO) Catholic formation program. This formation program has been in existence for over 25 years in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. However, it is only in the past 18 months that the formation program has taken root in our archdiocese.

The Catholic formation program has three primary components: large group teaching, regular small groups, and one-on-one pastoral care. Each of these components is absolutely essential, in my experience, to helping a young Catholic who is striving to follow the Lord to grow in grace and maturity in their faith.

In one of the early SPO households at Benedictine College in Atchison, there was a handwritten note on a poster sheet hung in the family room of one of the men’s houses. It read: “SPO: Training boys to become men — so that their wives or their bishops do not have to.” Well, that may be overstating in a bit, but the point remains that the SPO formation program desires to help bring young Catholics to full maturity in Christ.

The large group teaching covers a multitude of topics pertinent to Catholic living and doctrine. These teachings are then taken and applied in a small group of men or women. The small group is important in providing stable relationships in Christ and peer accountability in living the Christian life.

In addition, the leader of the formation small group is a Catholic who has experience and some stability in living the catholic faith well. Each young adult meets with his or her small group leader for pastoral support in living the faith.

If you are a young adult wanting to plug into our formation program, or if you know a young adult who you would like to connect with our work, please con- tact Sam Schoenfelder at (651) 357-3380 or by email at:

You can also join us at our next Trust One Greater event at Ascension Parish, 3800 W. 119th St., Overland Park, on Fri., May 31, at 7 p.m. for a night of eucha- ristic adoration, praise, and worship with Archbishop Joseph Naumann and other young adults!

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Matt Karr

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