By Nikki Gartner
(Editor’s note: The following is an interview with Leslye Killian, a member at Our Lady of Lourdes and St. John Vianney parishes in Bettendorf, encouraging others to participate in the Called and Gifted program. This is the first in an ongoing series on Called and Gifted.)
Called and Gifted is a gifts discernment program developed by Sherry Waddell and Father Michael Sweeny, O.P., in connection with the Catherine of Siena Institute located in Colorado Springs, Colo. http://siena.org/Called-Gifted/called-a-gifted.
Gifts discernment, simply put, means this: God has given each one of us special abilities (gifts) which are to be used for the benefit of others. Here are just a few of the 24 gifts the program identifies: teaching, pastoring, writing, encouragement, service and helps. Called and Gifted was one of 200 programs the Vatican chose to present at World Youth Day in Australia in 2008 and is supported by the Diocese of Davenport.
The late Bernie Vogel of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf introduced me to the Called and Gifted program about 10 years ago. He had attended a course in Ankeny, Iowa, and felt called to bring the program to the Quad Cities. Shortly before Bernie approached me, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to get more involved in the community. Therefore, it came as no surprise when Bernie approached me about the program just a few weeks later. We attended the next training session in Ankeny, facilitated by Waddell and Fr. Sweeney. For the first time, I was able to verbalize exactly how I had been living my life. It gave me comfort and confidence knowing how God was working in my life. The program encouraged me to be more intentional about my involvement in present and future ministries.
Part one of the three-part Called and Gifted discernment process is an introductory workshop and Spiritual Gifts Inventory. Part two is a personal gifts interview and part three is discernment in depth, where you will practice what you have learned in parts one and two. The series can be facilitated in many ways to meet the needs at your parish.
One of the key components of the program is to prayerfully answer a questionnaire, called the gifts discernment inventory. The questions are designed to reveal, through your concrete life experiences, patterns in which God has been working through you for the benefit of others. How often do we go through life taking for granted how God is working in our lives? We often explain it as coincidence or attribute it to something we did really well. In the meantime, we have missed an opportunity to allow God to fully work in and through us, unimpeded. This is probably one of the most important aspects of Called and Gifted — a deeper awareness of the personal relationship we have with God.
After your inventory has been completed, the class continues to delve deeper into each gift and its manifestation in your life. Called and Gifted can be completed as an at-home study, small-group study, or a larger-group study with trained facilitators. One of the most powerful advantages to the large-group setting is the opportunity to see God working not only through you, but through others as well. To be affirmed in your gifts by others is a great encouragement on your faith journey.
Understanding your gifts makes your life more meaningful, changes the society you live in and enables you to live the call God placed within you. There will be a day in which each of us will stand in front of God and be asked to give an account of our discipleship. Called and Gifted is our practical way of evaluating, while on earth, how well we are answering the call that God places within our hearts.
(For more information about beginning a Called and Gifted program in your parish, please contact Nikki Gartner at email@example.com or call (563) 370-3360.)