By Jamie Schilling
Do you ever wonder why you were born on a certain day? Or when you find yourself involved in something, the results surprise you? My journey to the Called & Gifted program started last summer. I had a meeting with my pastor, Father Dean Smith, about a summer project when the topic of the book “Forming Intentional Disciples” came up. We had both read the book and were intrigued, but it left us wanting more.
So I began to search online through the Catherine of Siena Institute to find a workshop near us in East Dubuque, Ill. After several searches we found a Called & Gifted Leadership Workshop in Bettendorf. It was a closed meeting so I decided to call St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf where I was led to Maureen Conrad and Jim Connell, who lead the program in the Diocese of Davenport. It was like we were being guided by the Holy Spirit. Father and I were invited to visit one of their Called & Gifted classes to see what it was about. Once we arrived, we realized that we wanted to participate. Fr. Smith and I attended the 10 classes to get the full experience. We also attended the leaders workshop.
What I learned is that charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which are given to us to be used for the benefit of others. I previously thought that charisms were skills we are born with and use for our own benefit. I was clearly wrong and found out that charisms give us three “Fs”: 1) We feel good when we use them. 2) We bear fruit when we use them, doing something good for another person in need. 3) We receive feedback when we use them, affirming our spiritual gift.
As I discerned what my gifts are, I learned that one is leadership. This was affirmed by a couple of experiences I had while going through these classes. One happened at our parish picnic. My Knights of Columbus Council was in charge of picking up the meat for the event. I, along with a colleague, went to pick it up. We were surprised that the provider of the meat did not have anything ready for us and could not do anything to help. Using my spiritual gift of leadership, I approached another supplier who not only had enough meat to cover the event, but was able to get the meat prepared within one hour, avoiding a delay. I also discovered through Called & Gifted that I was born on the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of leadership. Just a coincidence? I think not.
We are all given anywhere from one to five or six spiritual gifts. If we do not know we have these gifts and do not use them, they cannot bear fruit. People receive many different gifts. When we do things that make us feel joy and at the same time help others, it is rewarding and provides us energy. So why would you not want to learn more?
We are all unique and this class is “a must” in learning more about ourselves and our relationships with Jesus. Fr. Smith and I are excited to be starting our own classes in East Dubuque in the near future. We recommend that you go to a class to see for yourselves. You will be just like us, once you arrive, you will want to stay.
(Jamie Schilling lives in East Dubuque, Ill. The next Called & Gifted session will begin on Sept. 9 from 6:30-8:30 pm at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf. Contact Maureen Conrad at (563) 940-5921 or email her at email@example.com.)