By Paul Algana
Each of us, as baptized Christians, has received gifts and charisms by virtue of the Holy Spirit, in combinations that are unique from any other individual, much like our genetic code makes us all unique. Do you know your gifts? Do you know what “favor” (charisms) you have received?
These fruits or gifts we have received from God enable us to be a unique missionary disciple in our family, our parish and in the world. A few words about gifts and charisms: they are not inherited, they enable us to be agents of God for others, they can be used only for good, and we are called to share them.
Recall the parable of the talents in which the servants who used and grew their talents were rewarded by the Master. We are called to be faithful and profitable servants and use these charisms to advance the kingdom of God.
Do you know the gifts you have received at baptism? “Called and Gifted” is a formal program that takes you on a journey to discern and to identify the unique person you are called to be. Sherry Waddell of the Catherine of Siena Institute developed the program. She also created the “Forming Intentional Disciples” program. It is a natural and deliberate next step in advancing each of us from being a “follower” (disciple) to being “one who is sent,” an apostle or “missionary disciple.”
As an active practicing Catholic, I have been able to participate in the many lay ministries in the church. I have also participated in the Christian Experience Weekend, which provides a renewal experience for those who are candidates. After such a great experience, with the emotional highs and excitement and zeal to continue on my journey, I needed to learn what God is asking of me. The Called and Gifted program provided the next step and helped me to understand more about what I am called to be.
You can share as much or as little as you wish with others in your Called and Gifted program. An experienced team of trained leaders and previous participants lead the program, giving freely of their time to help and to share with each participant.
At the start of the program, each candidate takes an inventory as a baseline reference to 23 of the charisms that he or she may or may not possess. Various combinations of charisms work together. Midway through the course, participants meet with one of the trained leaders in an informal interview to help narrow and focus the discernment process.
For me, this was a revealing exercise that in some ways was validating and, in other ways, surprising. As we continued in the Called and Gifted course, we had the opportunity to try out and test our charisms. At the end of the program, I was ready to continue to practice and grow in the charisms that I believe I have received.
If you are curious to learn more, I invite you to join us in the upcoming Called and Gifted program.
(Paul Alagna is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf. Those interested in Called and Gifted can register online at https://learning. siena.org/product/group-reg-bettendorf-ia or by contacting Maureen Conrad at 563-940-5921. The $45 registration fee includes all materials.)