Prayer is on the lips, hearts and minds of participants in the second session of the Why Catholic? process, which has 50 participating parishes and missions throughout the Diocese of Orlando. The six weekly sessions during Lent will conclude the first year of Why Catholic? entitled “Christian Prayer: Deepening my Experience of God.”
The focus of the current sessions has been the power of vocal prayer and meditation, contemplative prayer, difficulties in prayer, with an emphasis on the Lord’s Prayer.
“There is a sense emerging from some groups in this session of Why Catholic? of the hunger people have for contemplative prayer, for quiet and silent prayer time in their lives. They search for further direction to this expression of prayer,” said Sister Nora McCann, R.S.M., Pastoral Assistant at Catholic Church of the Epiphany in Port Orange and a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy order.
Sister McCann noted that Epiphany had close to 20 Why Catholic? small Christian communities during both the fall and spring sessions, with an average of seven to eight people per group. “The feedback was quite positive—I think six weeks is a very manageable, achievable time,” she said. “Almost all of the fall groups stayed intact for the spring.”
At Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Ocala, there were at least 50 small faith groups formed for Why Catholic? last fall. Most of the groups returned for the second session and the small community leaders inspired members to participate in other ministries, strengthening the life of the parish.
“The camaraderie of the group works to get people involved in other ministries of the parish,” said Ro Lipari, Director of Religious Education at Blessed Trinity. “Several people made Cursillo and Christ Renews His Parish because of their involvement in Why Catholic?” Lipari added that the parish groups reflected a mixture of age groups.
Deacon Michael McElwee, Director of Ministries and Director of Adult Education at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne, said that accountability is an important aspect of the small faith community he facilitates. “The strength of Why Catholic? is that it does call for action each week,” said McElwee. “It’s a more personal commitment because you’re dealing with prayer…We have such a rich tradition and even Cradle Catholics haven’t been exposed to all the forms of this tradition, such as contemplative prayer.”
Dan Hardester, Secretary of Evangelization and Diocesan Coordinator for Why Catholic, said that any individual who is interested in Why Catholic? can sign up for Year Two, whether they have participated in Year One or not. Year Two will explore The Profession of Faith: What We Believe and will be scheduled between the Feast of St. Francis (October 4) and the First Sunday of Advent (November 27) at participating parishes. Training for the small community leaders will take place at various locations in English and Spanish during the month of August.
“Why Catholic is an opportunity to put our lives in conversation with our Catholic heritage,” said Hardester. “It enables us to witness our faith to one another.”