Forming Intentional Disciples Chapter Summary Points and Question - Chapter 2 

Here Sherry highlights the importance of having a relationship with Christ and, thus, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which she offers as a kind of counterpoint to the "Cultural Catholicism" that she outlined in the first Chapter. 

She states that this relationship involves three spiritual Journeys. The "personal journey" of a lived relationship with Christ, the "ecclesial journey" into the Church through the sacraments of initiation and the "journey of active practice" active in the life and mission of the Christian community. The manner in which these journeys are nurtured and lived has an impact on our discipleship. 

The concept of what is considered “ normal” is also presented. Sherry describes what is perceived as normal is skewed, in that one is a 'normal" catholic without having a personal relationship with Christ. We have lost the sense that the desiring and having a personal relationship with Jesus is normal for all believers. This needs to be recovered.

Question: The “new normal” is a concept discussed plenty these days. Do you agree that we need to create a “new normal” with regard to how we view the lived Christian life in our Roman Catholic tradition? What do we need to do as a community of faith at Saint Josephine Bakhita to make this real?


  • Dcn Michael WardPosted on 4/22/20

    Thanks Jay. One of the area's I think we might need a lot of work in is with regard to post confirmation young people as well as young adults. We don't seem to have a viable venue that keeps them in and holds them with us as part of the community. seems that this is something that really needs attention. I think we do a pretty good job in other ways but this one really is kind of a black hole for us.

  • Dcn Michael WardPosted on 4/22/20

    thanks for your input Bob. I know what you're talking about when you refer to people passing through a sacramental programs in order to punch tickets. it's kind of a challenge to know quite how to deal with that. the balance is between pushing them beyond their capacity to absorb or be involved on the one hand and just letting them be complacently where they are now. It's a challenge for sure.maybe the inter-generational approach that put the parents in the middle of the preparation process as well helps to bridge that gap and make the parents accountable for where the kids. we had some experience with that format at Saint Elizabeth Seton in the past and I'm not sure quite how it worked out in the end or why it stopped. I think Lisa Orchen knows about it and maybe she could illuminate us. I am sure that Monica probably has ideas about this as well and her experiences over the years in preparing people for the sacraments.

  • JayPosted on 4/21/20

    I found the title of chapter 2 interesting: "We don't know what normal is".

    That certainly applies to the times we are living through! As well as what I think the author was trying to convey.

    I think the "normal" being described by the author is this:

    The need for the Church -- and for parishes -- to proclaim, live and transmit (or spread) the faith, which is both the PERSON of Jesus Christ and having a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.

    I like what the author wrote about the three concurrent journeys to spiritual growth – which leads to the development of intentional disciples:

    1 our lived relationship with Jesus Christ;
    2 our reception of the sacraments; and
    3 our active practice of the faith and parish life.

    Finally, the author states that parishes need to identify their vision and values, and that all parishes need to transition from an infant to an adult model of faith development.

    Applying these points to SJB, I feel that we are doing a good job of proclaiming, living and transmitting our faith in Jesus Christ -- but like many parishes described in the book, that we could do more about having a relationship with Jesus.

    As the author wrote, this can be done by providing opportunities for parishioners to experience -- and talk -- about having a lived relationship with Jesus, deepening their knowledge – and experience -- of the meaning of the sacraments, and by promoting a more active participation in parish life.

    I think our parish is doing a good job of identifying our vision and values – although we may want to “fine tune” it after reading this book!

    I also think we can do more about providing opportunities for parishioners to have an adult experience of Jesus and the sacraments.

    In my life, these things have occurred through retreats, such as the Christian Encounter Retreats I described my comments to chapter 1, as well as Cursillo, which was described in another chapter by the author.

    These things could also be accomplished by having outside speakers coming to the church for evening programs, given people’s business and reluctance to go on an overnight or weekend retreat.

  • Bob MurrayPosted on 4/20/20

    I agree. For all of the reasons Weddell puts forward, and you summarize, we do need a new normal. Ironically, it is not truly new, but a renewed normal that we need.

    Laura and I were involved with the preparation of students for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a few years. During that time we saw a large percentage of families that were getting punches on their admission tickets, as you say. Not all were there in such a manner, but a surprisingly high percentage in my estimation--and these are the families who make an effort to show up. That is why I believe we can benefit by engaging the children as well as their parents in a different way, as we seek out, led by the Spirit, what a renewed normal looks like for our parish. I see one that is growing, active, and energized to reach out beyond our comfortable limits!

  • Dcn Michael WardPosted on 4/16/20

    I very much agree that we need to create a “new normal”. To me the “old normal” that Sherry describes is as cultural Catholicism. Its expectations put in pejorative terms is the old “pay, pray and obey” moniker. It was as if Catholicism was a club that you got into by punching the right admission tickets of Baptism, First Communion and then Confirmation. In some ways it was logical that many would drop to the wayside after “full admission” tickets were punched and dues paid.

    Some attend for a while afterwards because of family tradition and loyalty, respect for parents etc. Some smaller number will attend because they have through their formation and home of through there faith development experience at the parish actually developed a “relationship with the Lord Jesus” that they have managed to make their own, and that is the reality that will endure for them in one way or another over time, often to greater or lesser strength at various periods of the next couple of decades.

    But according to sources that Sherry cites these numbers are relatively small. The vast majority check out after Confirmation. Though the ticket has been punched and people are “fully initiated” there is no real inner desire to maintain contact with the broader faith community as there is no, or a real weak “relationship” with either the Lord, in or through or with that community that would hold them there. I think that’s what happens based on my own experience within my family, both immediate and extended.

    According to Sherry it would be the development of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that would be the factor that would anchor a person in the community...providing I think that these folks saw the community as a place where that relationship was developed, strengthened and deepened through prayer, friendships, mutual support and encouragement etc.

    It seems to me that we at Saint Josephine bakhita should be aware of this as we look at the means by which we “encounter” new folks interested in the faith, the faith development/formation programs and processes and our prayer/liturgical life.

    I would really love to hear from others more involved in faith formation/development as to their take on this question and what of anything they think we should be doing differently or in addition to what we are already doing to develop the personal relationship of faith that Sherry focuses on in this chapter.