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, which began Feb. 17 on Ash Wednesday, 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 Theresa Johnson, a parishioner of Divine Mercy Parish-Burlington/West Burlington. She shared comments from several other members of her Emmaus Group, as well.
• Why did you choose to participate in an Emmaus Group? “I joined initially because I was asked but most of all, I wanted to grow spiritually” (Theresa). “I wanted to join the group because I desired a community to grow in. I’m newly Catholic and my RCIA classes didn’t go into depth. I wanted a group that I could learn more with and grow as a Catholic” (Sierra May).
• How many of the group members did you know prior to joining your Emmaus Group? “I knew all the members who are in this group but one not very well” (Theresa). “I knew one of the four ladies in my group before I joined. It was easy getting to know the other three because they were so inviting” (Sierra). “I am participating in an Emmaus group of five wonderful women. I knew one, was acquainted with two from Mass, and the youngest is a new friend!” (Keri Hartman)
• What is the makeup of your Emmaus Group? “The group consists of five women ranging in age from early 60s to early 20s. All are married with children except one who is single but is in a relationship. The members are myself, Joan Wail, Keri Hartman, Kim Johs and Sierra May” (Theresa).
• How and when do you meet and for how long? (Online or in person?) “We decided to meet in person on Monday nights at the home of one of our members, starting at 6:30. We do not have a set time to end our meetings but they usually last two-and-a-half to three hours, sometimes longer. We all enjoy each other’s company and the length of time usually depends on the topics or concerns/questions shared. We do wear masks and practice social distancing with our seating arrangements” (Theresa).
• 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, we are using the Discipleship Quad program. It’s easy to follow, seems well thought out and is not too difficult to complete the Scripture readings and questions during the week” (Theresa).
• What do you find most rewarding about participating in an Emmaus Group? “It’s hard to pinpoint the most rewarding aspect of participating in this Emmaus Group, so I will name several. The personal faith-filled friendships that are being formed are a special blessing. I am growing in my faith as an individual and as part of a community. It also encourages me to spend more time daily/weekly reading Scripture and praying” (Theresa).
“I love that I get different perspectives of the readings, and feel it helps me to be more open to what God has planned for me. It has also opened my eyes to areas in my life that I didn’t realize were actually hurting my relationship with God” (Keri).
“This Bible study is very unique compared to others I have been a part of. I like that it is a constant group so we can get to know each other deeper and be comfortable. I also like that we read all the readings and questions ahead of time so we can focus on discussion when we meet. Not all of the studies have been particularly heavy on my heart, but a few have!” (Sierra)
• What would you say to someone who is trying to decide whether to participate in or start an Emmaus Group? “I look forward to Monday nights, spending time with this wonderful group of women who are on this spiritual journey with me” (Theresa).
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. Lent is a perfect time to build on your relationship with Jesus and with companions on this journey of faith.