The benefits of faith sharing

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Vision 20/20 aims to foster revitalization of faith and renewal of grace in the spirit of Pentecost throughout the Diocese of Davenport. The Emmaus initiative, one of the fruits of that process, encourages parishes to provide small-group opportunities for individuals to enrich their faith over the next year. Diocesan leaders say the season of Lent is a great time to become part of an Emmaus group.

Members of three different Emmaus groups say they benefit from participating in the faith-building experience. They shared their experiences to date in a Q&A with The Catholic Messenger. This reflection comes from Father John Spiegel, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, and one of four members in his Emmaus Group.

Why did you choose to participate in an Emmaus Group? “Being retired I was looking for a more structured faith-sharing format to augment my spiritual life.”

Religious Supply

What is the makeup of your Emmaus Group? “I am with a clergy Emmaus Group (to be distinguished from Priests’ Emmaus Support Groups, which grew out of a diocesan clergy support presentation years ago) consisting of myself, Fathers Bill Roush and Steve Witt and Deacon Lowell Van Wyk. We have attempted to bring ourselves as a group into this new Emmaus Group process.”

How many of the group members did you know prior to joining your Emmaus Group? “We all knew of each other and each of us knew one or another more or less fully.”

How and when do you meet and for how long? (Online or in person?) “We meet in a monthly Zoom format for usually over an hour, more like 90 minutes. We have been following the Emmaus meeting material provided by the diocese and we will have our fourth meeting this month.”

Does your Emmaus Group use the Discipleship Quad program? What are your thoughts about the format, each week’s offering of a theme, Scriptures, reflection questions and prayers? “Yes. This format gives a general, orderly and inviting structure to the flow and purpose of the session.”

What do you find most rewarding about participating in an Emmaus Group? “The building of personal relationships within active faith sharing.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your participation in an Emmaus Group? “We felt that our individual and collective schedules did not find a weekly schedule to be manageable. Our monthly format has provided a much more reasonable and yet significant engaging meeting pattern.”

How has your participation in an Emmaus Group helped your faith to grow? “It has given me a direct connection with fellow ordained pastoral ministers who are each engaged in ministry and who share a mutual commitment to self-disclosure and faith sharing. This sharing includes one’s personal faith perceptions and understanding.

What do you hope to take away from your Emmaus Group experience? “I trust that this sharing will help me grow in my faith commitment and personal development.”

What would you say to someone who is trying to decide whether to participate in or start an Emmaus Group? “As those engaged in ministry, there is a recognized value in faith sharing and interpersonal dialogue. A mutual commitment to be together and to engage in a regular pattern of faith-sharing meetings actualizes one’s direct participation in such a dialogue and does so in a regular supportive manner. It is not unlike other endeavors in life, where sharing a participatory relationship with others in an activity strengthens one’s commitment to and pursuit of that endeavor. I would welcome a person as Jesus invited Andrew, ‘Come and see.’ I would encourage the group to see what is possible for one another and then commit to what seems mutually good for them as to a meeting pattern and session content. I think the general meeting structure is a good procedure to follow and the Emmaus session material has proved interesting and inviting.”

Join an Emmaus Group

Consider starting or participating in an Emmaus group with three other people with whom you could take a closer walk with Jesus. Who is God putting on your heart to reach out to? Then go to the diocesan website (www.davenportdiocese.org), click on the Emmaus icon, and download the Discipleship Quad materials, which are free. Familiarize yourself with the program and read recommendations on forming a group. Invite the people God placed on your heart and set up a time, place and format that makes everyone comfortable. Flexibility is one of the attractive aspects of this faith-building initiative. Remember, Lent, which began Feb. 17, is a perfect time to build on your relationship with Jesus and with companions on this journey of faith.

Shorter Emmaus Group option

Many people have expressed an interest in taking an abbreviated walk through the Emmaus materials. Maybe you want to have a group meet through Lent. Maybe committing for a year just isn’t practical. Here is a recommended shortened course through some of the Discipleship Quad materials that will take eight meetings to complete. Each lesson is listed with the corresponding “guidebook” materials available at www.davenportdiocese.org/emmaus

You will notice references to commitment forms and other aspects of the Discipleship Quad program that won’t be applicable to your journey. Don’t worry about those. Just follow the reflections and discussion questions for each session.

This will give you a nice start and overview of the materials. You don’t have to stop here! Feel free to continue to fill in with other lessons if your group would like to keep going.

1. Sharing Your Spiritual Journey – Guidebook 1 p. 3-5.  The guidebook recommends doing this over two sessions. Make this a single session to help keep the sessions moving.

2. Wanted By God – Guidebook 1 p. 7-14. The first full lesson in the guidebook is a great place to start!

3. Made for Greatness – Guidebook 1 p. 23-30. You’re not an accident!

4. God at the Center – Guidebook 2 p. 1-8. God should not be only part of your life, but at the heart of your life.

5. Prayer from the Heart– Guidebook 2 p. 9-20. Prayer is a personal relationship with God.

6. The Living Word– Guidebook 2 p. 31-38 and 41-42. God reveals himself to us through the church.

7. The Bread of Life– Guidebook 2 p. 53-62. Jesus is present—body, blood, soul, and divinity—in the Eucharist.

8. Jesus, I Trust in You– Guidebook 2 p. 71-78. You can always trust in God’s mercy


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