God’s gifts to parishes benefit the whole church

Pam Mackenzie and Mary Sloka talk during a break at the Called and Gifted workshop at Prince of Peace Church recently. (Miscellany/Terry Cregar)

Pam Mackenzie and Mary Sloka talk during a break at the Called and Gifted workshop at Prince of Peace Church recently. (Miscellany/Terry Cregar)TAYLORS—Seventeen Upstate Catholics took the first step recently toward determining the charisms from God that await them.

Joe Waters and Jason Sandoval led a two-day workshop on Called and Gifted at Prince of Peace Church Sept. 17-18.

“A charism is a gift from God,” Waters said. “Charisms go beyond our natural abilities and our natural talents.”

Waters, director of adult education and parish mission, said the gifts are given through baptism and developed in many ways, but primarily through a closer relationship with God.

“As we grow closer with the Lord, who is the giver of charisms, the impediments to the use of the charism can be removed,” he said.

Called and Gifted is a program of the Catherine of Siena Institute based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Founded in 1997, the institute is an affiliated ministry of the Western Dominican Province.

Waters completed training three years ago and worked at the institute for a summer while attending divinity school.

In recent years, he led similar workshops at St. Mary and St. Anthony of Padua churches in Greenville.

Waters said spiritual endowments are always directed toward others, and are given by God to help draw people to Him.

The presenter drew a distinction between faith and charisms, noting that faith is a gift directed at the individual in strengthening his or her relationship with God.

“Charisms aren’t necessary for our personal growth in holiness,” he said.

Waters said God grants every diocese with the gifts it needs to be a channel of God’s mercy to others. However, each parish within a diocese has a limited number of charisms. In turn, the gifts found within a parish help define it.

“They have a certain gift mix, a certain set of charisms that direct or orient that parish’s mission,” Waters said.

By recognizing that each parish has a specific mission within the diocese, Waters said, they are more successful in reaching the mission of the Catholic Church.

“We simply need to recognize that each parish has different gifts, and every parish doesn’t need to look exactly alike to bring others into contact with Christ,” he said.

Mary Sloka, a parishioner at Prince of Peace, asked if dividing charisms among parishes would encourage people to go parish hopping in search of a specific gift.

Waters answered that a church might, for example, have a communal orientation toward the blessing of mercy, but the charism doesn’t belong to one parish only.

He said God may give the gift to a particular parish, but He still needs other people with the charism of mercy in other places.

He said the situation could also be a sign from God for that person to take his or her spiritual ability outside of their parish.

Sandoval is a traveling instructor with the institute. He led participants in a spiritual inventory, sharing with them ancient teachings of the church and how the Holy Spirit works in their lives.

Participants discussed the most common charisms, and how finding them can change lives, spread the Gospel and impact parishes.  

Linda Head, a member of Prince of Peace, said she learned about the workshop through friends.

“They said it was helpful to them [to learn how to] bring Christ to others,” she said, and that it was a good beginning for her.

“It gives direction to how best to bring Christ to our world,” Head said.