Disciples in Mission program going strong in the Upstate

CLEMSON – Disciples in Mission entered its second Lenten season with at least one community of parishes ready to take the program a step further.

The evangelization effort was launched in 2002 by Bishop Robert J. Baker. The focus this year is on action, according to Jane Myers, director of Christian formation at St. Andrew, St. Francis and St. Paul the Apostle parishes in the Clemson area.

Parishes from throughout the Piedmont Deanery gathered in Greenville earlier this month for training in the second year of the three-year Disciples in Mission program.

 “There was less training required this year because this is the second year. The focus was on evangelization,” Myers said.

Myers said the community which includes three parishes pastored by the Paulist fathers will take the evangelization effort beyond the weekly group sessions that gather during Lent.

 “The last piece of that process is action, something each of us can do individually during our week in solidarity with one another, or something we can actually do collectively,” Myers said.

Myers said that proved to be the weakest component last year.

“Groups ran out of time, or maybe just avoided dealing with the action part,” he said.

The three Paulist parishes in Pickens and Oconee counties were among some 45 parishes across the diocese who participated in Disciples in Mission in 2003. The program is a ministry of the Paulist Catholic Evangelization Association, and it has been implemented in more than 30 dioceses nationwide.

During Lent, Catholics cite the prayer for Disciples in Mission during Mass, and then gather in small groups in private homes and at church to reflect on Scripture readings. The reflection prayer continues through Pentecost.

Last year around 500 people participated in Disciples in Mission in the Upstate parishes, Myers said, a level of participation fueled by the parishes’ Small Christian Communities program launched in 2002.

“We were really prepared to do Disciples in Mission, and some of the groups that were already in place formed a natural facilitator pool for Disciples in Mission,” Myers said. The parishes had around 10 small Christian communities in place, she said.

“They became the foundation for Disciples in Mission,” she said.

“There’s a lot of magic to it just in the format in which it occurs and the personal dynamics that are involved,” said St. Andrew’s parishioner Jack Hensen.

Hensen said the overriding theme of Disciples in Mission is evangelization — “living our faith more completely by putting it into practice by sharing it with other people.”

“It’s been my experience as a Catholic, that we aren’t well trained to share our faith. This is a way for us to do that without wearing evangelism on our sleeve or going overboard about it,” he said.

Members of the Catholic Hispanic community in the Upstate also attended the training session at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

“They are very much a part of the parish leadership team, and they will be meeting during Lent at St. Francis in Walhalla,” Myers said.

At the end of Lent, each parish participating in Disciples in Mission will hold a Parish Reflection Day.

Everyone who participates in Disciples in Mission at a parish is invited to spend a half day or a day together to see how well the parish has met the program’s three goals.

At the end of the three-year process, there will be a day of reflection at the diocesan level.

To get involved

Contact your local parish to find out more about the program in your area.