For Catholics who have discovered a relationship with Jesus through the ChristLife or Alpha ministries, a new discipleship opportunity, The Way, offers a next step into deeper spirituality.
“People encounter Jesus in ChristLife and get excited about Him. But the question is, where is He going to lead me if I follow Him? What is He going to do in my life?” said Michel Therrien, president of Preambula Group, which sponsors The Way. He was formerly on staff at the Diocese of Pittsburgh as president of the Institute for Pastoral Leadership and director of evangelization.
The Way, an 8-week experience held in person or on Zoom, resembles a weekly retreat for 20-25 participants. They reflect on scripture about Jesus’ relationships. They read and discuss Interior Freedom by Catholic spiritual writer Jacques Philippe. Therrien offers short reflections.
“It’s a guided journey together where we move through a series of different spiritual topics from interior freedom to prayer, healing, forgiveness, faith, intimacy with God,” Therrien said. “They are all meant to help people get to know Christ more deeply and to recognize Him when He shows up inside our hearts. I think a lot of times God speaks to people, but they don’t know it because they don’t recognize his presence or voice.”
Jack Porter, a member of St. Pio in Blawnox, had long pursued a deep spiritual life. He registered for The Way – then known as Discipleship Forum — to find a community of Catholics with a similar goal.
“We met on Zoom, but I found you can make a real connection with people,” he said.
The book was a page turner, participants said.
“You just want to keep reading and reading. I had to slow myself down, to take in what I had read in the first few chapters and continue later,” said Judy Abbs, a participant from Ss. John & Paul Parish in Franklin Park.
Her experience started shortly after her annulment following a difficult divorce years earlier. The Way helped her focus on God’s call to “accept our past, forgive – not really forget, but know that we’ve learned from it and move on,” she said.
She came away from the program understanding “that I can live in the moment, not fear the future and I can come up with new dreams and hopes. That will only make me be a better disciple.”
One of the Preambula Group board members is Don Lovre, a parishioner at Ss. John and Paul who had been co-chair of the parish’s Our Campaign for The Church Alive! fundraising initiative. Lovre was captivated by Therrien’s vision of “getting out there and talking to people about Jesus in their own comfort zones, outside the Church.”
Participation “gave me an opportunity to look inward at myself and build my relationship with Jesus.”
One of the most important messages to him was about authenticity.
“Jesus loves me for who I am. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Jesus walks with you,” he said. “It’s not all yellow brick road. You stumble, you hit potholes. There are many personal and professional things you run into. But it spoke to me about examining myself and my role as a Catholic.”
Registration is open for The Way discipleship forum. The fee is $50 for in-person and $35 for online. Learn more and register at https://mtyryou.org.