By Katrina Genereux / Associate Editor, OND
Ongoing efforts are being made throughout the Diocese of Crookston to form the faithful in missionary discipleship. The Convocation of Parish Leaders sponsored by the Diocese of Crookston and the Diocese of Fargo last November focused on the universal call to evangelize, and events and programs are continuing to develop that theme.
Through the Office of Formation in Discipleship, Deacon Mark Krejci and Bob Noel are leading Shepherding Them Home Prayershops throughout the Diocese of Crookston which focus on reaching out to loved ones who have left the Catholic Church. On May 4, Deacon Krejci led a training session for Shepherding Companions, a group of people from around the diocese who are tasked with praying for and supporting people shepherding loved ones back to the Catholic faith.
Currently there are 14 Shepherding Companions. Deacon Krejci’s goal is to have 25 companions spread throughout the diocese. He is seeking more companions, particularly women and people living in northern portions of the diocese.
“The primary ministry for a Shepherding Companion is to pray for people whose family members have left the Church and the family members reaching out to them,” he said. Shepherding Companions receive access to formation materials to help them continue growing in faith as they support others.
Jason Klinnert of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, is a Shepherding Companion. He hopes to use his experience of returning to the Catholic faith 10 years ago to help others come home.
“I have made some mistakes in how to evangelize and share the faith and also answering questions,” he said. “I hope that I can use my experiences so that people can not make the same mistakes I did.”
Jayne Miller of St. Clement, Grygla, heard about Shepherding Them Home through the November convocation. She sees it as a ministry of relationship.
“We want to walk with people, we want to be there with them, we want to hear their stories, we want to have coffee with them,” she said. Miller sees it as a way to be the Body of Christ to others.
“We can reach out to others in love. It’s our Christian duty and that’s part of belonging to the community of believers and the universal Catholic Church,” she said. “Maybe we can’t bring people back to the faith, but we can certainly pray for people who are hurting. We can say, ‘I identify, I understand, I have gone through something similar, this happened to me, let’s pray together about this’.”
UNDERSTANDING MISSIONARY DISCIPLESHIP
Father Frank Donio, Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center, was a keynote presenter at the Convocation of Parish Leaders. In addition, he spoke to diocesan priests at the spring Priests Study Days and delivered a presentation open to the public at St. Philip, Bemidji, on May 7.
“He took what he said at the convocation last fall and brought a practicality to it, while at the same time reinforcing the vision that this is based on prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit,” Deacon Krejci said.
Father Donio emphasized that each person who has been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church has the mission to go forth.
“All of us in this room and all of those who are in our parishes are co-responsible for the mission of Christ and his Church,” he said.
He suggested bringing back the practice of handing out saint prayer cards and offering to pray for people such as St. Jude for impossible or difficult situations, St. Dymphna for nervous conditions or St. Anthony for lost things.
“As superstitious as it may sound, it’s not,” he said. “These are sacramentals and they are meant to lead us, and the Church provides them, to deepen our encounter with Christ … they are meant to help us come to an encounter with Christ in and through the sacraments.”
Other ways to share the faith include: wearing a miraculous medal or crucifix and being ready to answer questions about it and displaying sacred artwork or statues in the home.
Father Donio emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization.
“It’s not rocket science, but it has to be dependent on the Holy Spirit. If we believe it’s all on us – that we have to do it all ourselves – then it will fail.”
Father Donio spoke about the “ministerial power” of donuts after Mass, encouraging people to make the most of conversations to ask what others thought about the homily, which part of the psalm struck them, or how the Lord is working in their lives.
He encouraged participants to ask the following questions in prayer: What is my part? What am I called to do right here and right now?
During the convocation it was announced that the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict in Crookston have made up to $50,000 available per year for five years to fund evangelization efforts. Convocation delegates can apply for the funds, and more than 20 applications have been received since January.
Grantees have used funding to purchase rosaries, medals, prayer cards and books about the Catholic faith for distribution; hold an ecumenical event highlighting “Laudato Si”; and create resource bags to help families pray together at home.
“The sisters were so generous, people can’t imagine there is still money left,” Deacon Krejci said. “Almost everyone who went to the Convocation of Parish Leaders could get something to do some evangelizing ministry.”
According to the Office of Formation in Discipleship, $6,000 has been distributed so far. Convocation delegates can apply HERE.
On Oct. 5, delegates from the Diocese of Crookston will gather again for a day-long event at Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks. Delegates to last November’s Convocation of Parish Leaders will be invited and encouraged to bring others who are interested in growing as missionary disciples.
Deacon Krejci said the event will include Mass, prayer, a keynote presentation and personal testimonies. More details will be shared in the coming months.
“It is meant to be a time where we come together to support each other through our prayer in community for this missionary discipleship that we are doing in such a variety of ways,” he said.