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 begins 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. Over the next few weeks, we will share their reflections with you. We begin with Madeline Dudziak-Peake, a parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport and one of four members in her Emmaus Group.
• Why did you choose to participate in an Emmaus Group? “I was looking for a way to connect with friends in faith, something I had really been missing during COVID. Emmaus is one part Bible study, one part community building.”
• How many of the group members did you know prior to joining your Emmaus Group? “I was familiar with all of them by name and sight but on different levels. I knew one lady pretty well, one was a friendly acquaintance, and one I didn’t know well at all. Now after 14 weeks, we are practically family; it’s great.”
• How and when do you meet and for how long? (Online or in person?) “We meet weekly, though we took a week off at Christmas. We have met in-person, but we have also had one member join the group virtually a few times and have met completely online once as well. Our meetings have been as short as one hour and as long as three hours (though often our longer meetings feature much more visiting than just the material).”
• 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? “We do use the Discipleship Quad program. I really enjoy it and I think my group would agree. We enjoy the format, and how it guides us through each meeting. It takes a lot of pressure off when it’s all laid in front of you. Some weeks the questions spark deep discussions and some are more straightforward, which is so awesome.”
• What do you find most rewarding about participating in an Emmaus Group? “There’s something really wonderful about allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your faith. Our group has had such fantastic talks and have found ourselves growing in both faith and friendship. Growing a deeper relationship with God while forming authentic and Christ-centered friendships is a true gift.”
• What is the most challenging aspect of your participation in an Emmaus Group? “I am a little embarrassed to admit that every once in a while, after a day at work the last thing I want to do is go back out. Luckily, there has never been a night when I’ve regretted attending my group. Sometimes getting there is the most difficult part.”
• How has your participation in an Emmaus Group helped your faith to grow? “The Emmaus material is written in a way that is super approachable so the readings and questions have led to an increase in my prayer life, but that’s surface-level stuff. Somehow, it both gets me back to basics while simultaneously pushing me to dig deep and expand my understanding of God and Catholicism.”
• What do you hope to take away from your Emmaus Group experience? “I hope that my relationship with Christ will be forever strengthened. I have already seen the fruits of making new friends with Christ at the center and I can’t wait to see how these relationships will continue to flourish over time.”
• What would you say to someone who is trying to decide whether to participate in or start an Emmaus Group? “It’s a lot less scary than you might be imagining. The materials are fantastic. Just as Jesus revealed himself at the perfect time on the road to Emmaus, he will reveal himself to you through an Emmaus Group. No matter where you’re at in your faith life, there’s an Emmaus Group for you!”
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 Diocese of Davenport’s 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 begins Feb. 17, a perfect time to build on your relationship with Jesus and with companions on this journey of faith.