Now available in South Africa
Called & Gifted Workshop
A must for every Parish and Christian community
developed by Sherry Wendell and Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P
© Catherine of Siena Institute
The following content has been extracted from the institute's website located at http://www.siena.org/
Article: Discerning the Gifts of the Holy Spirit(by Sherry Weddell)
In a Called & Gifted Workshop, particpants learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and about the role of lay men and women in the Church and in the Church's mission to the world. Our gifts and our role are intrinsically connected: every lay man and woman has an office in the Church by virtue of his or her baptism, and every lay man and woman has been gifted by the Holy Spirit in order to be able to step into that office. In other words, God has given each of us a work to do that will be fruitful according to his purposes, and he has given us gifts in order that we may accomplish that work. The process of discovering what work we have been given begins with discerning our gifts, because as we have been called, so we have been gifted.
A Called & Gifted Workshop is a Friday night, all day Saturday workshop that introduces the role of lay men and women in the Church and helps people begin the process discerning their spiritual gifts and their call. In particular, participants learn:
To find out more about the Called & Gifted Workshop, including information on how to bring a teaching team to your area, you can:
If you would like to find out when the next scheduled Called & Gifted Workshop is taking place, you'll find the teaching schedule on the Events page.
You may also wish to order the material yourself. Order the Called and Gifted Workshop
What is the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
The Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program is specially designed to help Catholics discern the charisms of the Holy Spirit that they have been given. It helps them begin to learn how to use those charisms to serve God and other people.
What is a charism or spiritual gift?
Charism is simply the Greek word used in the New Testament for "favor" or "gratuitous gift". Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God's love and redeeming presence in the world. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, charisms are to be used in charity or service to build up the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003).
How do charisms or spiritual gifts differ from natural talents?
Charisms, or spiritual gifts, differ from natural talents in two important ways. Charisms are not "inborn" or inherited from our parents, but are given to us by the Holy Spirit, whom we received through baptism and confirmation, two of the three sacraments of initiation. Charisms are also supernaturally empowered. They are focused outward and enable Christians to bear results for the Kingdom of God above and beyond our normal human abilities.
As disciples, we offer our entire selves, including our personalities, natural talents, education, life experience, and background to God to be used for his purposes. Our natural talents can become wonderful tools for God's purposes, and sometimes an already existing natural gift is transformed by the Holy Spirit into a supernaturally empowered charism. But when we serve God, we are not limited to just the gifts with which we were born! Some charisms may seem 'extraordinary' (such as prophecy, healing, or discernment of spirits) and others quite 'ordinary' (such as administration, service, hospitality, or mercy), but all charisms are supernaturally empowered. We use our charisms together with our natural talents and all that we are to serve God and our neighbor.
What is the difference between the seven "gifts of the Holy Spirit" found in Isaiah 11, the "fruits of the Holy Spirit" listed in Galatians 5, and spiritual gifts (charisms)?
There are gifts of the Holy Spirit that we are given to keep and gifts we are given to give away. The traditional "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit" and the "fruits" of the Spirit are gifts given to us to keep. They are part of our inner transformation as Christians and provide the inner "Christ-likeness" necessary for the effective use of our charisms (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1830-1832). Charisms, on the other hand, are gifts given to us to give away. Charisms are always focused outward; they are especially empowered ways by which God's love and goodness reaches our neighbor through us.
How many charisms are there?
We don't know. There are three primary lists of gifts in the New Testament (in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4). We don't have any reason to believe that these lists are meant to be exhaustive. The Catholic Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program covers 24 of the most common charisms, including most of those listed in St. Paul's letters. Two other charisms are described in the addendum at the end of the Catholic Spiritual Gifts inventory. There are additional charisms that are not covered in the inventory at all.
Are all baptized Christians given charisms?
Yes, according to both the New Testament (Ephesians 4) and the teaching of the Catholic Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 951). All Christians are given one or more "long-term" or permanent charisms, empowered ways in which God uses us over and over again throughout life. "Long-term" charisms are the kind of spiritual gift that can be discerned through the Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program, can be deliberately developed, and should be taken into account when we try to discern our vocation(s) in life.
What difference can the discernment of their charisms make for individual Catholics?
Many lay Catholics do not understood that they have an active part to play in the Church's mission and are excited to discover that God is calling them to and equipping them for a unique work of love in the world.
Few things nurture faith in God's loving presence like seeing God's provision and goodness reach others through the charisms of an ordinary person like you or me. The spiritual disciplines necessary to mature in the use of a charism change us and help transform us into more Christ-like people.
Participants regularly comment about how healing an experience it is to discern their gifts. Those who judged themselves for not measuring up to someone else's standard are freed by recognizing that their giftedness and calling may be different. Those who judged other Christians for having different priorities are able to relax and recognize the validity of the many calls within the larger Body of Christ.
A lot of energy is released for service as individuals begin to acknowledge where they are not gifted and begin to concentrate on the areas where they are called and gifted.
Charisms of the Holy Spirit enable us to be exceptionally effective for the Kingdom of God. It is unusually energizing and fulfilling to exercise a charism and we are much less likely to burn out if working in the arena of our giftedness.
After interviewing hundreds of average Catholics, we have discovered that many lay Catholics are having remarkable experiences of God, which they don't understand, can't put into perspective, and don't feel that they can talk about with anyone else. Gifts discernment enables lay Catholics to begin to see that some of these experiences may be signs of a charism and helps them name and begin to responsibly exercise these gifts for the sake of others.
Who can benefit from the Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
Gifts discernment is particularly attractive and useful for people in transition:
How does helping individuals discern their charisms affect the larger Christian community?
In our large Catholic parishes and institutions, it's easy for individuals to come and go without being noticed and to believe that they have nothing to contribute. The personal interview is a most critical part of the discernment process because it gives individuals the opportunity to share their experience of being used by God with the leadership of the community. The small groups enable Catholics to talk to each other about something that is seldom named in our communities: how does God use us to bless others?
Some of our most gifted people are sitting, unrecognized, in the back of the church. Many lay Catholics emerge from the gifts discernment process with a much stronger sense that they have something important to give to the larger Christian community and the world. Catholics who sat quietly on the sidelines start taking new risks and others emerge as leaders of new initiatives.
Our communities are filled with organizational and pastoral "needs" that we usually try to meet by recruiting anyone who shows any interest - or who, perhaps, is just unable to say "no". Because we seldom look first at the gifts and call of individuals, our communities often contain generous and energetic people who have been burned-out or even traumatized trying to fill "vacuums" for which they were ill-equipped. Discerning the gifts of individuals helps avoid these problems. When people become aware of their own (and each other's) charisms, our communities can begin to be "charism-driven".
People are much more likely to say "yes", to be effective, and to find the experience satisfying and spiritually nourishing, when approached to work in an area of their giftedness.
It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that the clergy and the laity are co-responsible, responsible together, for presenting Christ to the world. The local parish is the most natural, most accessible place for the laity and clergy to acknowledge and support one another in their mutual call. The charisms and call of lay Catholics are their primary contribution to this collaboration.
How does the process of gifts discernment work?
There are two parts to the gifts discernment process:
This workshop runs from 7 to 9:30
p.m. on a Friday night and from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. the following Saturday. It is
taught by Sherry Weddell, Fr. Michael Sweeney, and the gifts teaching team. It gives its
participants a chance to:
All participants in a Called & Gifted Workshop receive an extensive packet of gift resources, including the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, a list of recommended books for all 24 charisms, and biographies of saints and other great Catholics who have demonstrated each specific charism in their own lives.
This program enables those who have taken the Called & Gifted Workshop to spend 8 weeks actively discerning a single charism of their choice. They do this through:
What would it take for my group to sponsor the introductory Called & Gifted Workshop?
An introductory Called & Gifted Workshop is easy to put on because we do most of the work for you!
What we need from you:
Our instructors are happy to travel and have done so throughout Southern Africa. If the proposed workshop is outside the Johannesburg area, our team will need to have their travel costs covered and simple overnight accommodations.
What would it take for my group to sponsor the extended Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
If you would like your community to experience the full ten-week Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program (and you are in the Johannesburg area), the trainers will need from you:
About the Catherine of Siena Institute
We are a program of the Western Dominican Province with the mission of equipping lay Catholics for the New Evangelization of Pope John Paul II. The Holy Father teaches that lay men and women are co-responsible with bishops and priests for the mission of the Church, which is to enable every man and woman to meet the risen Christ. Come and see what we're about!
The Catherine of Siena Institute is a program of the Western Province of the Dominican Order. Our mission is to enhance the apostolic effectiveness of lay Catholics:
In order to meet these ends, the Institute is creating and providing an innovative, parish-based formation that:
About the Developers of the Workshop
Raised as an evangelical Protestant, Sherry Weddell did graduate theological studies at the Earlham School of Religion (Quaker) and the Fuller School of World Mission (evangelical Protestant) before entering the Catholic Church in 1987. She received her M.A. in Adult Education from Seattle University in 1993. She designed the Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program in 1993 and has since taught gifts discernment in parishes and to laity and clergy across the United States and Canada. Sherry wrote the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, the first Catholic instrument for gifts discernment, in 1995. She lives in Seattle, Washington, where she serves as Associate Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute.
A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Father Michael Sweeney has been a Dominican since 1973 and an ordained priest since 1979. Father Michael has served as both a pastor and a campus minister. In addition, he has conducted retreats for lay people and clergy and been a university instructor in philosophy and history. Fr. Michael currently lives in Seattle, Washington, where he serves as Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute. He is also in charge of planning for the Dominican parishes of the western United States and administers the annual Parish Ministry Conference of the Western Dominican Province.
Enquire further about the Called and Gifted Workshop