By Betty Kulas
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit: there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
About a year and a half ago, my church had a ministry fair after all Masses. Many programs and opportunities were represented at tables in the gathering space. I knew I had taken advantage of the many opportunities for Bible study previously. As a convert to Catholicism I am trying to catch up to cradle Catholics with their many years of catechism. I knew for sure that the table looking for choir members wasn’t where I should sign up. I can do a fairly decent rendition of “Happy Birthday” and not much else. They didn’t need me in the choir.
I came to the table for Called and Gifted and vaguely remembered someone talking about it. Maybe I should sign up. I was the first to put my name on the sign-up sheet but wondered whether the class might be canceled if not many others signed up. Wouldn’t you know it; it was definitely a go, and I was surprised to see so many other men and women when I walked into the first meeting.
Called and Gifted started in 1993 when Sherry Weddell was asked to help lay Catholic leaders discern their spiritual gifts or charisms. In 1997, she and Father Michael Sweeney, O.P., founded the Catherine of Siena Institute to teach Called and Gifted workshops worldwide. Participating in these workshops helps participants determine their charisms.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about charisms: “Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world. (799)”
In a prayerful first session, my group heard about charisms. We learned that charisms are gifts given to us to give away. They are always focused outward. There are innumerable charisms, but Called and Gifted covers 24 of the most common as listed in St. Paul’s letters.
Participants completed the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory to help each of us focus on the best place to begin our personal discernment process.
At the second meeting each of us had scored the results of the inventory. It was interesting to hear what others found. Strong areas for me were knowledge, writing, service and giving, but I had work to do to narrow my discernment process.
I taught religious education for six years, getting second-grade students ready for first Communion. I help with funeral luncheons and count collections twice a month. I help write the newsletter for CEW (Christian Experience Weekend). I give to numerous charities. I needed to determine through discernment which charisms were present in all of those things and how they work together in my life.
During the 10 sessions it was helpful to listen to talks by previous participants. They spoke about how finding their charisms helped in their jobs, neighborhoods, relationships, spiritual life and with friends.
Please consider Called and Gifted as a call to your holiness. Don’t be like the person who buried the talent or the person who hides the light under a bushel basket. Be the person who receives the power of the Holy Spirit to make a difference in the world, to further the kingdom of God and to build up the body of Christ.
(Betty Kulas is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.)