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Join a Vibrant Community of Evangelizers at the ChristLife National Training Conference

The ChristLife process is a proven method of evangelization and renewal used by Catholic parishes across the country. The upcoming ChristLife National Training Conference is an opportunity to be inspired, equipped, and connected so you can bring ChristLife to your home parish. You will:

  • learn practical and proven ways to implement ChristLife,
  • be spiritually renewed and challenged, and
  • meet a vibrant community of priests, deacons, and lay-people eager to transform their parishes with the power of the Gospel.

Deacon Lee Benson from St. Ignatius in Hickory first attended the ChristLife National Training Conference after searching for a way to bring life back to the parish. Below, he shares about his experience:

My wife, Deborah, and I attended our first ChristLife conference three years ago. We were looking for something to help revitalize our parish. In the previous year our pastor initiated a parish census, asking parishioners to review information about their family in the parish database. Only a small number of parishioners responded. Additional steps were taken, but ultimately door-to-door visits were necessary. Deborah and I made some of these visits.

Most people did not answer the door. The few that did were friendly and courteous. They told us they had not switched to another parish or even another denomination, but simply stopped going to church. Their children completed their sacraments, so there was no further need to attend church or live any life of faith. They had joined the church of “none.” We came away from this experience discouraged, but knew we had to do something.

We heard about the ChristLife Series, but knew little about it. Our pastor gave us the go ahead to attend the conference and we asked another couple to come with us. During the conference we found the program to be more than what we expected. The testimonies of the previous participants truly encouraged us. We listened to success stories, and also stories of mistakes made and lessons learned.

We loved the details of how to run the ChristLife process. Nothing needs to be invented—we simply needed to follow the instructions. ChristLife offers a proven model that has been tested and revised through experience. It is not a theoretical program, but one based on lived experiences. We left the conference anxious to try the program at our parish. The conference gave us the confidence we needed to run the ChristLife series.

Our pastor gave us permission to run a “pilot” program of Discovering Christ with a hand-picked group of volunteers. Most enjoyed it and were ready to help promote the full program. Many of these people become facilitators in the subsequent pastor-approved, parish-wide program. We are now in our third year of the using the ChristLife evangelization process. We start in September with Discovering Christ, continue after Christmas with Following Christ and finish after Easter with Sharing Christ. While we do experience some attrition, more than 70% of those who start go all the way through to the finish of Sharing Christ.

Our pastor admitted later that he fully expected us to fail at getting people to come. To date, over 300 people have attended the full series. Our pastor is thrilled. Last year we added a “small group” program for the ChristLife graduates. Many of these groups still meet and we look forward to adding more this Easter.

All of this started because we attended the ChristLife Conference. I encourage anyone to attend no matter how unlikely you may think it is that your parish will adopt the program. If nothing else happens, you will grow in your relationship with Jesus and you will meet some terrific people.

The ChristLife National Training Conference will be hosted April 26-28, 2017 at St. Philip Neri Parish in Linthicum Heights. Speakers, conference talks, and registration information is available on http://www.christlifeconference.org/

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Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross according to the method of Saint Francis.

We adore you O’ Christ and we praise you.

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Pope Francis speaks during a penitential ceremony on March 13, 2015 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican. Pope Francis declared an extraordinary jubilee year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a landmark Vatican council and said the Church was bound to continue its  reforming work. The year will be dedicated to the theme of mercy and begin on December 8th, the date the Vatican II council closed in 1965, Francis said in St Peter's cathedral on the second anniversary of his election as pope.  AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI        (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lent and Pope Francis

And just like that, Lent is upon us! If you’re looking for some suggestions for how to live this Lent, Kevin Cotter from FOCUS selected some tips from Pope Francis. Maybe some (or all) of these will help direct your Lenten practices this year.

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Called to be Stretched

This post corresponds to the Mission Priority “Encounter”

Have you ever heard this definition of insanity? In·san·i·ty: Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

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A “Me First” Mission

This blog post corresponds to the mission priority of Encounter

It’s not often in Christian theology that we hear encouragement to live “me first.” This is one of those rare exceptions.

Fear not – this is not a heretical blog post about the virtue of selfishness. It’s about one of the six core mission priorities set forth for our Be Missionary Disciples pastoral planning process, the priority of “Encounter.” Read more

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Mission Matters: December 13, 2016

This week’s “Parish Table Talk”: Ministers of Communion resource; GIVEN success; Interpreters’ needs during Mass; Transitions; plus this Thursday’s blog post. Read more

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Give Without Counting the Cost

In 2002, I was employed as an emergency interviewer at an outreach center here in Baltimore. One of the first people I met was a religious sister, whom we’ll call “Mary,” who was the AIDS/HIV coordinator. Sister Mary instilled in me a culture of encounter, the importance of being compassionate to people no matter their condition or situation, and the need to meet them where they are. Read more

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A Thanksgiving Prayer

In November of 1791, Archbishop John Carroll wrote a beautiful prayer for our country. This November, as our country prepares for a transition in government, we pause for prayer. And we pause to give thanks! Let us recall the words of our first bishop and hold our country in prayer. Read more

This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance...

With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right.

I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thousght about for some time...

What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man;they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him...

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This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me.

I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting.  So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ...

The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

I Was Naked And You Clothed Me

We are called to “clothe the naked”. How can we share this message in our parish? There is the obvious corporal work of mercy of donating clothes. This time of the year as the air gets crisp we are reminded to think of our homeless sisters and brothers and to clean out our closets. The St. Vincent de Paul boxes are overflowing at parishes, which is great. You might want to suggest that folks keep care packages in their cars, especially during the winter season. Good things to fill small bags with are socks, sweatshirts, bottles of water and snacks. It is great to slip a rosary or prayer card inside as well. But what does it mean to spiritually “clothe the naked”? Read more

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Keeping Our Eyes On Christ

Recently a story was shared with me about St. Mother Teresa.

She held the hand of a young child who was hungry and approached a man who was well off asking him for assistance. The man’s reply:  he spit in Mother’s face. St. Mother Teresa’s response: “That was your gift to me, now do you have anything for the child?” Read more

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The Sound of Silence

I had the privilege of leading a couple of parish retreats this summer. The participants were parish volunteers from all different kinds of ministries. They gave themselves a gift of time with our Lord, and I was truly evangelized by their faith and their presence.

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Ephphatha! Be opened!

The New Evangelization challenges us to rethink what it means to be missionaries. Yes, ad gentes! To be disciples to all the nations is still a priority but, what about those who sit next to us in the pews or those who aren’t even there in the pews yet? We know there are many of our brothers and sisters who are baptized Catholic, but are not actively engaged in their faith.  This is one level of evangelization. And a large one at that! Overwhelming, even.

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