By Rosa M. Gouveia
Last month, Teresa Rocha and I had the privilege of participating in a National Conference for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Our days of learning were fruitful and provided an opportunity to listen and share insights with national catechetical speakers, fellow diocesan leaders, parish catechists, religious, deacons, priests and even a bishop. We were given time to reflect on our lived experience of current Church reality, beyond a pandemic perspective. It was great to be with fellow leaders who are also committed to learning together and wanting to better serve those entrusted to us in ministry!
We were given the opportunity to talk about the changes we have faced in ministry since the onset of the pandemic. We discussed the challenges the families we serve are living and we shared what we would like to see unfold in our respective local churches. At the heart of it all is the question: “How can we better accompany and journey with those we are called to serve, and how we can truly help others discover Christ in their own life story?”
We want to intentionally invite others to discover God in their lives with an increased interest of deepening a personal relationship with God and fellow members of the Catholic Church. The goal is a Church whose members consciously and actively live their faith, celebrate the Sacraments regularly, invite others to come to know Christ and together discover the blessings given by our good and gracious God.
So, you might be wondering, “What does Rosa bring back to our Diocese after such a positive experience of learning from others at a national gathering?”
My answer: I gained new insight of methodology; the how we do things in ministry. I hope to incorporate it more fully in various endeavors we will share as an Office of Catechetical Ministry. More of that will be revealed in the future as we continue to plan our Diocesan meetings, workshops and trainings.
Generally speaking, I gained a new perspective on three basic elements, which can be applied in many areas of life and are worthy of further reflection. We focused on prayer, communication, and trust. These three simple components affect how we are live our Christian Catholic faith, how we minister to others and how we share our faith, because they are basic values daily lived by all of us, in various ways and in all walks of life.
Please allow me to share prayer as the context of being in connection with our Creator God. It is based in the perspective of believing in God and having a desire to be in touch with the One by whom we are created and from whom life is freely given. This desire to want to be united with God is the springboard of communication. It leads to a personal desire to discover God in all aspect of one’s life, as well as in the world around us and in others with whom we share our life.
Prayer leads to communication, which first and foremost is with God, but leads us beyond ourselves and encourages us to talk with others. The more we talk and get to know one another, beyond the superficial, the more comfortable we feel in sharing our story. It’s an intentional and active process of getting to know one another.
The more we communicate and get to know one another, the more we can trust one another. As we grow in trusting one another we move to getting to know one another more personally and profoundly. Once we can deepen our communication with greater trust, we come to discover the values, dreams and fears we each face. We can venture into sharing more deeply and find ways in which we can support, encourage and accompany one another in the journey of our daily life.
In all aspects of our lives, with our family, among our friends, at work, socially and even within our Church circles, we are called to daily find effective ways in which we communicate with one another and grow in trusting one another. I offer some food for thought and invite us to reflect on how prayer plays a part of it all. Have you ever taken the time to think of how your prayer life and relationship with God affects the way you communicate and grow in trusting others?
Rosa M. Gouveia is the Director of the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry.