What Participants are Saying about the Discipleship Series

NOTE: Comments on Unlocking the Beauty of the Catechism are listed first, but since it is new and currently being used by groups for the first time, the vast majority of the following testimonials refer to the books focused on love of neighbor (Who Is My Neighbor, As I Have Loved You, The Greatest of These is Love, and Como Yo Los He Amado). Additional comments will be added as they are received.

“We’re sailing along with our Catechism study and we haven’t lost anybody from about 30 who are participating.  They enjoy what they are doing and the discussion questions are the key driver.  We’ve had very good talks and it’s been fun.”

Jay Reszka – Social Ministries and RCIA, St. Pius X Parish, Aurora, CO

Unlocking the Beauty of the Catechism is the perfect introduction to the Catechism. The program is not so comprehensive that it’s overwhelming, but you get far enough into it that you come away with an amazing understanding of our Catholic Faith. It’s really invaluable for getting people to open the Catechism and to come to hear and know the teachings of the Church.”

Janet Wolfe – Immaculate Conception Parish, Eau Claire, WI

“We had a person in one group who had gone through the RCIA two years ago but was still hungry for more, and after doing this study she is on fire for spreading the Catechism to others.  She kept saying, ‘How can we get everyone in our parish to read this book?!’”    

Mary Luedtke – Coordinator of Religious Education, St. Mary’s Parish, Neillsville, WI

“The Discipleship Series has borne tremendous fruit in our Archdiocese. Consistently participants have found it to be a source of joy, edification, challenge, and consolation, and look forward to continuing with other books in the series. I couldn't recommend it more highly to parishes and dioceses as a vehicle for integral Christian formation.”

Kyle Neilson – Director of the Office of Evangelization, Archdiocese of Vancouver (Canada)

“These are resources that really take people where they are in their lives and bring them to a deeper relationship with Christ and greater enthusiasm for service. After we finished the first book, everybody wanted to do the second one. We got the same people back, plus more. They keep telling me how much they enjoy the discussion questions, because they connect the Scriptures and the stories to their daily lives.”

Allen Simmons – St. Florian’s Parish, Chicago, IL

“Annunciation Parish in Kearney (Missouri) introduced the series to their small Christian communities and they absolutely love them. These were groups that in the past had met to pray and do Bible study, but they had never engaged in any form of service. These communities are now on fire for service after using the books - most of them have used all three and are eager for the 4th.”

Jude Huntz – Chancellor, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

“I teach a Scripture class at Sancta Maria House, a healing home for alcoholics and addicts, in Vancouver. I decided to try a few lessons with them. The women loved everything about the books and I loved the thought-provoking discussion that the questions inspired. Then my pastor asked me to facilitate a program in the parish. I set up a Lenten study of Who is My Neighbor, and it has met with equal success. All the participants indicate that they want to continue. Thank you for your inspired program.”

Rae Pawlowski - Facilitator, St. Luke’s Parish, Maple Ridge, BC, and Scripture Teacher, Sancta Maria house, Vancouver, BC (Canada)

“I led a group of young adults and they responded with much enthusiasm. There was such a good balance of Scripture, stories, Catechism quotes, discussion, prayer and focus on service, and the program was very do-able for busy people. The members of our group found many thought-provoking connections to their daily lives. They especially liked the stories that brought the Scripture themes to life. Everybody really looked forward to coming to the meetings!"

Eileen Mueller – Nativity of Our Lord Parish, St. Paul, MN

“We have had a very good response from 7 participating groups at Risen Christ Catholic Parish. Evaluations have been most positive. Here is a sample of what people had to say: ‘I feel closer to God and to members of the parish;’ ‘A new way of looking at my faith;’ ‘Great opportunity to meet people in the parish;’ ‘Thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship. The sharing of each other’s lives is a wonderful process to take part in;’ ‘Opened a deeper awareness of compassion, mercy, and love.’ Our groups met last night for a year-end celebration and are all excited to get the next book!”

Cathy Yoder – Risen Christ Parish, Boise, ID

“We are in the midst of the program, and the Discipleship Series has been very interesting. It's wonderful to be able to relate the stories of the men and women in the books to our everyday lives -- the way they reached out to people. The service aspect of the program opens the mind to many different possibilities. In our parish, a good number have been involved with St. Martin's Guild, which assists families in need.”

Dior Drego – Parish Staff, Immaculate Conception Parish, Delta, BC (Canada)

“The people of our parish were drawn to this series by the content and the simplicity. If it’s too heady, they are turned off. They want to know, ‘how do I live out my faith?’ Too often adult faith programs are ‘sit and get;’ ‘do homework and talk.’ The Discipleship Series is a well-rounded blend of doctrine, prayer and lived experience. Some of the ways we have carried out service is through helping homeless veterans, volunteering at Jubilee House (a Catholic Worker house), and helping kids with cancer.”

Barb Ceranski - Director of Faith Formation - St. Anne's Parish, Wausau, WI

“The Discipleship Series is a wonderful tool that appeals to a broad range of participants. Drawing from the lives of the saints, Sacred Scripture, and Church teachings, it stimulates discussion that not only enlivens faith and inspires reflection, but asks that we put what we have gained into action. Long after ournoon faith-sharing group at Catholic Charities has finished, I’ve seen two and three gathered continuing a discussion or sharing additional thoughts. The action component brings forth the “fruit” of Faith Alive – for what good is faith if it does not prompt us to serve one another?”

Deacon Richard Sage – Executive Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of La Crosse

“The Discipleship Series books are approachable, accessible and inviting, and the program is fostering both prayer and charity in our parish. We have 6 groups in our parish of 650 families, and the facilitators come together to pray for an hour each week for the parish’s intentions. Then they go to a nursing home and lead faith-sharing with the residents there.”

Fr. Peter Manickam, Pastor – Sacred Heart Parish, Marshfield, WI

“In our small parish we had 4 groups. The participants became so connected that they want to keep meeting and to maintain the service commitment. There is a lady in the Diocese who takes food to the poor in a park in Grand Rapids every Saturday. We decided to make bagged lunches for her to give away, and later we involved students in preparing these meals. It was a beautiful opportunity for everyone.”

Jeannie Wernet, Catechetical Leader – St. Edward’s Parish, Lake Odessa, MI

“In our parish, adult education has been challenging, but this book was extremely interesting and easy to do. We had steady attendance, without the usual drop-out rate. We look forward to doing the next book!"

Deacon John McKinley – St. Elizabeth’s Parish, Gooding, ID

“We had 4 groups in our parish. People really liked the stories of faith and we had very good discussions. At the last session we reviewed what people did for service. One man and his wife set up a basket in the back of church to collect food to bring to the local food pantry, which they are still doing. There were some folks who led a fundraising drive for a boy with cancer. Others reached out to the mentally challenged and their families. One woman had an elderly neighbor she would visit and bring grocery shopping. It is so refreshing to hear the work being done to help others. A good number of the participants plan to continue their service commitment into the summer. We look forward to doing more books in the series.”

Deacon Stillman Slason – Sacred Heart Parish, Yankton, SD

“The interaction in our group was just wonderful. There was plenty of meaty material, but also variety, and this contributed greatly to the discussion. It met the needs of a variety of personalities. For me, attendance is always a good indicator. We had more participants at the end than we had at the beginning!

Deacon David Craig – St. Alice’s Parish, Pequot Lakes, MN

“I had the occasion of teaching the diaconate candidates in our diocese on Catholic social teaching over a period of days. I decided to use one of the sessions of the Discipleship Series as a prayer/reflection component to the formation days. The candidates found the event very moving and formative. The discussion generated from the readings and reflections was powerful and stimulating, and the experience motivated the men even further to the commitment of service so essential to the vocation of the diaconate.”

Jude Huntz – Chancellor, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

“The committee that I am working with has done thorough reflection on our Lenten Study, soliciting feedback from those who participated. Many have requested that we continue these groups in the fall. Thank you for your ministry to God's people.”

Sister Therese Collison, Pastoral Associate - Church of St. Peter, St. Peter MN

“Special social and spiritual bonds developed between the faith-sharing group participants and fed into the parish, creating a greater spirit of hospitality. There was much more awareness of what we can be doing in our parish. For example, people took a real interest in assisting the poor through our parish mission thrift store. Other people saw they could serve by helping with parish events and socials. With regard to the books, group members were especially appreciative of the inspiring stories of people from different eras. Those really impacted us a lot.”

Sr. Rosemary Rombalski – Pastoral Minister, Holy Family Parish, Arcadia, WI

“This has worked out very, very well for our young adults. They are so busy, so it’s great to have a 6-week program that is easy to get through. Each session only takes 1 ½ to 2 hours to do. We have had really good discussions and great turnout and consistency with this program. With other study resources we have unfortunately seen burnout, but I haven’t seen any burnout with this.”

Brian Dobeck - Director of Wausau Deanery Young Adults Group, Wausau, WI

“This was such a good project for the Year of St. Paul, and really emphasized how our faith is built on love. The book was informative and relevant, yet not overly long. I especially liked the ‘Reflect’ sections. I also liked the way the Pope’s words and the Catechism references were meshed into each session. Our group included two converts, one of whom has obviously had very little formal instruction in the Church and was eager to learn. She said she got a lot out of both the book and the interaction (compliments to the author for writing in an easily understood manner). Three of the members are former CCD teachers. Our oldest is 95 and sharp as a tack!

“Most of the group members were already extensively involved in parish and community service of various kinds, so we incorporated those activities into our discussion of service. We acknowledged what each was doing and were inspired by those activities. In addition to parish activities, one woman cares for an ill daughter and an elderly mother; two gals volunteer many, many hours at the nursing home where their husbands died; one lady makes mission rosaries almost non-stop, and at least one of the others is now helping her. We also discussed the service done by so many in the parish and how important that work is to keeping our parish alive. We discussed how our service is based on love, and that it’s important to do such service even when nobody takes time to thank us. I think we all gained an appreciation for the services performed by those around us, and a greater sense of willingness to do more—to say ‘YES.’”

Rita Smith – St. Anthony de Padua Parish – Cazenovia , WI

“I have used a lot of materials from different backgrounds and I want to say that I was really impressed with this resource. I appreciated how each lesson started with the Scriptures, then gave examples of Jesus in the life of his people and then melded them with our historical tradition and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There was a sense of cohesiveness to everything. And the material is presented in such a way that it is very, very approachable for the average Catholic.”

Mike Schaefer – St. Mary’s Parish, Colby, WI

“Because the program encourages you to make a living witness of your faith, you can’t help but share it outside the group. It’s a stepping-stone to more, both for the individual and the parish.”

Deacon David Allen – Blessed Sacrament Parish, La Crosse, WI

“I am involved in a faith-sharing group for Lent. I just want you to know that we have had the best sessions we've ever had. This week I had the flu and I still couldn't stay home. I went and sat off by myself in the corner so that I could be part of the session. I most enjoyed the stories of St. Thérèse and St. Francis (in As I Have Loved You). Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful program. It certainly is not a sacrifice to go to the sessions! It's just exactly what I need in my life right now.”

Rita Halama – Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Independence, WI

“The [county jail] inmates' comments about the book have all been positive, and they like it better than the straight Bible studies that I have used because it is less head stuff and more heart stuff. I have found it easier to get them to reflect on what we are talking about, how it applies in their own lives, in this place. I know that in at least one case an inmate has modified his behavior as a direct result of discussions we have had in the group. For me the most powerful piece has been talking about the service component as they discover ways in which they may be of service even in jail or prison. I look forward to using the next book in the same manner.

Tom Skemp – Jail Chaplain, City of La Crosse, WI

“We have a young couples’ study group (which has 4 young families in it) who used your Discipleship Series (they hired a babysitter or 2 to watch the 10 kids in the next room). The service component motivated them to do something together that was also pertinent to their families. They cleaned up the parish playground by repairing the thick plastic border which had been damaged by snow plows, purchased a truckload of wood chips and raked them out, and did other landscaping projects nearby which included the removal of shrubs that did not survive the winter and planting new grass. All of this followed a picnic/potluck.”

Fr. Brian Konopa, Pastor – St. Olaf Parish, Eau Claire, WI

“We have had about 21 people that have been attending on a regular basis. There have been a number of amazing stories of faith, conversion, etc., that have been coming out of these groups!!”

Jim Trzinski – St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Almond, WI

“The faith-sharing groups at St. Joachim's have been such a blessing. Many have grown in the Lord and the conversations have opened many doors.”

Gerri Romens – St. Joachim’s Parish, Pittsville, WI

“I have been facilitating a group of seven parishioners, and speaking for myself it has been wonderful. As for the service component we as a group are planning to provide a meal at a local meal location. This will be a new experience for nearly all members of the group, and we plan on having our children assist in the experience.”

Jim Grygleski. – St. Bronislava Parish, Plover, WI

“The material was just about perfect. There was a great blend of readings, and the questions allowed each individual to relate, which gave us all a deeper insight into the topic. The most amazing result was how people came together. It is such a blessing to witness the Holy Spirit at work, as people who did not know each other find common bonds and are able to share their love for each other.”

Chris Dickinson, St. Joseph ’s Parish, Stratford , WI

“I am having lots of good feedback on the faith-sharing material and I believe that everyone will be interested in attending future groups. A few of us made a visit to the Place of Grace [Catholic Worker House]...and found it to be a very worthwhile project and I am sure that we will repeat the service in the future. Just getting us out of our comfort zone - (being one of the older crowd) has been very interesting.”

Marilyn Peterson – Blessed Sacrament Parish, La Crosse, WI

“Participation was good and we had some real great personal insight and sharing. Everyone was so happy they were a part of this experience and want more. Our service projects consisted of visiting the nursing home and writing letters. Also several of us, along with some other parish members, got together and made greeting cards. These cards will be going with my wife and me to Waveland, Miss. to be given to persons in need. We're leaving for a week to rebuild damaged houses. Each card will contain a $10 Wal-Mart gift card. Our parish got the fund drive going and we’re up to almost $800 so far. Our project pretty much got beyond our little group of 6 people. Pretty awesome.”

Gary Asher – St. Henry’s Parish, Eau Galle, WI

“The Discipleship Series books have been awesome. Extremely intuitive and well organized. They put things in illuminating perspective for the program participants.”

 Arthur Barbier, MD – Cathedral of St. Joseph, La Crosse, WI