The experience of learning is a human activity that is a lifelong process. Whether we realize it or even acknowledge it, our opportunities to learn about life, acquire new knowledge or strengthen our faith are always right before us. While the potential to learn is constant, our “classrooms” keep changing. Where we experience “learning” is anyone’s guess, and happens everywhere in the world around us. Most of the time, it is pretty close to home. Places of learning are all around us. To learn special skills and gain specific understanding about what is relevant and helpful to our lives and those we serve is something that happens all the time.
So… what would a “school of discipleship” look like? The answer should be obvious. It looks like the parish you and I attend, and the one to which we belong. Our parish church functions as a place of learning as well as a place of worship. It is the place where you and I learn about being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is a place where we encounter others who are disciples ministering to others. It is a place where we practice discipleship in our own unique way using the gifts God has given us. It is a place where we practice the stewardship way of life.
What does a “school of discipleship” look like? Take a look around and notice that is exactly what we have going on here at my parish, St. John the Apostle Church in Minot, N.D. Are we not always learning the ways of stewardship that expresses our call to discipleship? I believe each of us knows more about being a disciple of Christ than we did five years ago, before our parish started embracing the stewardship way of life.
However, discipleship requires ongoing formation as our lives evolve. What it means to be a disciple when we are 8 years old changes when we are 15. Our understanding of being a disciple of Jesus Christ at age 21 changes when we are 35. The way we live our lives as disciples of Christ when we are 55 changes when we are 75, and so on. Learning this discipleship requires openness in each of us, and always admitting there is so much more to learn.
Here at St. John’s, we are approaching our fifth annual Stewardship Renewal, and we are asking everyone in our parish family to be open to the possibility of learning more about the stewardship way of life, and committing to the discipleship we have been called to live. I know this requires a better understanding of what we are doing here in this parish, and why we are asking each member and all ages to consider participating by returning a Commitment Card. Commitment Cards identify how we intend to live as Catholic disciples of Jesus Christ in the coming year. Just as we celebrate another year of life on our birthday, another year of marriage or ordination on our anniversary, we should be celebrating another year of renewing our desire and willingness to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Personally, I like the thought of each year making a new commitment to serve the Church and our parish, but the same can hold true for any parish. I probably could use a few reminders throughout the year of what I signed up to do, and that is something I hope our parish does for our parishioners this year. You can certainly do the same at your parish. Ask your parishioners to review your ministry catalogue pray about the area or areas that you’re their names should be connected with.
Encourage all your parishioners to return a Commitment Card this year. It is important to fill out a card each year, for it is the best way for your parish to keep updating your lists. It also continues to define your community as a stewardship parish.
Try to continue developing your parish family as a “school of discipleship,” for as we learn from each other, we are also supporting one another in the stewardship way of life. God has blessed us, and will continue to do so as we continue to respond to His invitation to follow the way of the Lord.
What does a “school of discipleship” look like? We don’t have to look far to find it. While we are all the students at such a “school,” we are also the teachers. Our Commitment Cards continue to be our “resume” for discipleship and our “report cards.” What will yours look like this year?