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


Frequently Asked Questions

about spiritual gifts, discernment,and the Called & Gifted Workshop

  • What is the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
  • What is a charism or spiritual gift?
  • How do charisms or spiritual gifts differ from natural talents?
  • 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)?
  • How many charisms are there?
  • Are all baptized Christians given charisms?
  • What difference can the discernment of their charisms make for individual Catholics?
  • Who can benefit from the Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
  • How does helping individuals discern their charisms affect the larger Christian community?
  • How does the process of gifts discernment work?
  • What would it take for my group to sponsor the introductory Called & Gifted Workshop?
  • What would it take for my group to sponsor the extended Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program?
  • Tell me more about the Catherine of Siena Institute and the instructors.
  •  

    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?

    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?


    How does the process of gifts discernment work?

    There are two parts to the gifts discernment process:

    1. The introductory Called & Gifted Workshop, and
    2. The Extended Discernment Program.

    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:

    1. A personal one hour interview conducted by a trained interviewer who helps each participant evaluate his or her inventory results in light of their life experience. The interviewer also assists participants in: identifying areas that require further discernment; looking at their work, vocational, or community involvement in light of their possible giftedness; and helps them choose a single charism to experiment with for two hours a week for the next eight weeks.
    2. The personal report: a printed summary of inventory results and interview with discernment questions relevant to the individual, and a reminder as to what gift they have chosen to focus on. (Given to participants at the first of the extended discernment sessions)
    3. Eight weeks of experimentation with a single charism of the participant's choice
    4. Four 2 hour sessions at intervals of 1-3 weeks which include further presentations on advanced topics, personal exercises, and small group work. Participants are put in small groups with others who are discerning the same or a similar charism.

    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:

    1. Two days, usually a Friday night from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    2. A minimum of 40 participants (they do not need to all come from your parish or organization). The only limits to the number who can attend are (a) the need to know the approximate number a week in advance so that we can prepare enough packets for everyone, and (b) the size of the room in which the workshop is held.
    3. A room large enough to contain:
      1. A full-size wall screen, an overhead projector, and a simple sound system.
      2. Tables and chairs for all who are expected
      3. A table for registration and packets
      4. 2 tables for recommended books and supplementary hand-outs
    4. Hospitality: coffee, tea, snacks, name tags, etc.
    5. Local advertising within your parish or organization.

    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:

    1. The help necessary to put on the Called & Gifted Workshop (see above).
    2. A facilitating team of ten members from within your community who will be willing to go through the whole program first and then help put it on for the larger community. Your team should include at least one staff member or member of your leadership team, as well as a number of lay leaders. As many members of the team as possible should have strong listening skills/training in active listening or pastoral care. Team members with such skills will be trained by the Workshop Leaders to do gifts discernment interviews for your community.
    3. Several small rooms, each with a table and a couple of chairs in which to hold gifts interviews.
    4. The room and facilities to hold the four sessions of the extended discernment program. There will need to be enough space for participants to break up into small groups of 4 or 5. A screen and overhead projector will also be required for each session.
    5. The Extended Discernment Program costs _________$40 per person, which includes the one hour personal interview. The whole ten-week Spiritual Gifts Discernment Program costs _______$70 per person. Alternate financial arrangements can be made for the full program. (See the above section on the cost of the Called & Gifted Workshop.)

    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.


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