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St. Bernadette Church in Springfield begins discernment program

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Sometimes it is easier to see the gifts of others while doubting your own gifts. But the Called & Gifted program works to change that perception.

Father Donald R. Rooney, pastor of St. Bernadette Church in Springfield, brought the Colorado-based conference to the parish and school earlier this month.

“The laity does not know how vital they are to the church,” Father Rooney said. “We all doubt we have gifts. This is what this conference is about.”

More than 160 people from across the diocese, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Canada, gathered Aug. 18-19 to begin a process to discern their spiritual gifts and how to use them. Katherine Coolidge, a Called & Gifted coordinator, and Patrick Conley, a presenter and interviewer for the program, presented the workshop.

“God invited you on this journey to use your gifts,” said Conley at the beginning of the workshop.

The entire faculty of St. Bernadette School attended because Principal Barbara Dalmut said it was life-changing for her and she wanted to share the experience.

“We have gifts to share and we can use them together to make a better school and community,” she said.

Dalmut attended the program at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg last year. In 2015, she retired from her role as principal at St. Ambrose School in Annandale, but after attending the conference, she returned as principal of St. Bernadette School.

Through Called & Gifted, she learned that her skill set is school administration. “I feel at home and comfortable in my leadership role,” she said.

Jacquie Sawyer, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Bernadette School, said it was enlightening to see what gifts the other staff members discerned and the different gifts that non-teachers discovered at the conference.

Called & Gifted was created in 1993 by the Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 100,000 people have participated since it began. There are three steps — the workshop, which lays the foundation for the beginning of discernment; a one-hour gifts interview; and discerning a person’s gifts in the real world.

Father Rooney attended his first workshop a few years ago in Houston.

“It sounded like a healthy investment in forming disciples and people to have meaningful service,” he said.

The purpose of bringing it to St. Bernadette is “to awaken in the parish a sense of our missionary discipleship and evangelization,” according to Father Rooney. “Our goal is to create intentional disciples.”

The program invites people to consider their place and see where they can be of help in the community.

“When people do something because Father asked, they will burn out,” said Father Rooney. “When people do it because it gives them life, they will grow.”

Rick Caporali, pastoral associate at St. Bernadette, hoped participants recognized their responsibility to use their gifts to bring Christ’s mission to life in the church.

“The lay faithful contribute to this evangelization by their work and witness in the world,” he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017