More than a dozen future leaders of small groups at Saint Brendan Church convened a few weeks ago for an evening of camaraderie and hands-on training. “Part of the year of prayer we are embarking on this Fall involves small group fellowship and faith-sharing,” said Father Roger. “This group of dedicated leaders volunteered to facilitate these groups, and we wanted to make sure that they had every resource and all the support they needed.”
The night began with prayer by Saint Brendan Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, Manolito Jaldon, who read the story of the Road to Emmaus. When Jesus walked and shared a meal with two disciples after his resurrection, “their hearts were burning within them,” Manolito said. “It was the original small faith-sharing group.”
During an hour-long presentation, Father Roger laid out his vision for small groups at Saint Brendan’s. “Small groups are important,” he said, “because they are biblical, they encourage personal transformation, and they grow the church from below.” Leaders of small groups are not intended to be theologians, experts, or people with all the answers, Father Roger remarked during the meeting, but rather courageous individuals who are willing to create a safe environment for meaningful discussion about topics that matter the most to people in their everyday lives.
Like mini-churches, small group meetings ultimately serve the same purposes as Sunday morning worship, just on a smaller scale, Father Roger explained. Small groups should magnify God in prayer, grow as the body of Christ in membership, help people mature in their faith, eventually serve others in ministry, and go on mission for Christ. “Make sure the rubber hits the road,” Father Roger insisted. “Ask your small group members near the end of the meeting how they can make sure to apply what you have been discussing to their current lives through acts of ministry and mission in the coming week or month.”
After the presentation, group leaders moved to a nearby circle of chairs in order to practice. Members of the impromptu small group shared thoughts on a passage from John 20, when the risen Christ appeared to his frightened disciples, breathed on them, and sent them out into the world. “It was an incredible moment of off-the-cuff faith sharing,” said the founder of Random Acts of Catholics, Paul Venables, who facilitated the group. “I was honored to lead it.”
Father Roger then blessed the group, as Sister Angela handed a lit candle to each person. The evening concluded as the leadership team shared a meal together. “From the opening prayer, catechetical presentation, and group discussion, to hospitality and the sending forth, the entire event modeled what a typical group meeting would be like,” said Father Roger. “While every meeting and group will be different, it is my sincere hope that every Saint Brendan parishioner will join a small group and ‘do life together.’”
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