Process equips Catholics for the essential work of evangelization

by Deacon Mike McKeown

Who is Jesus, and why does he matter? Why do we need a savior? Who is the Holy Spirit? Why is the Church important?

These crucial questions are the focus of the first of a three-part ChristLife program currently being held in the Shepherd of ouls Area Faith Community (Church of Our Lady in Manannah, St. John in Darwin, St. Philip in Litchfield, and the merged parish of St. Gertrude in Forest City.)

The ChristLife series was founded in 1995 and has since spread both at the national level and in many other countries. It is a program that leads participants through three essential steps: Discovering Christ, Following Christ, and Sharing Christ.

Each step in the process involves a seven-week experience (21 weeks total) that invites every person, baptized or unbaptized, to encounter the love of God the Father, enter into or renew a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as God’s children.

The evangelization journey

In the winter of 2021, the Shepherd of Souls Area Faith Community’s Evangelization Committee members were searching for their next step in parish evangelization. They happened to read an article in The Prairie Catholic featuring the ChristLife series held at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Winsted, a parish that had successfully run the ChristLife program for the past eight years. 

Rick and Pat Kusler were among a small group of parishioners from the Shepherd of Souls AFC who decided to attend one of the sessions in Winsted and check it out. 

Pat recalls the impression that visit had on her. “It was very clear that the participants had a deeper connection with each other than we had experienced in the past,” she said. “You could tell it was coming from a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Rick was also impressed by the visit. “This was a spiritual growth opportunity that we were excited to share with our AFC,” he added. 

In the summer of 2021, Shepherd of Souls AFC pastor Fr. Jeff Horejsi and a small group of parishioners did a test run of the program. Fr. Horejsi was impressed with the series and saw the benefit of offering it on a broader scale.

“After being involved with the ChristLife series, I could see that it would appeal to people all across the spectrum,” Fr. Horesji said, “whether they are new to their faith or have been heavily involved in every program for many years.”

After the initial test run, the series was offered to the entire AFC in the fall of 2021. The hope for good involvement was confirmed when 77 people signed up to participate. 

The group has completed the first part of the series, “Discovering Christ,” which was held from October to early December 2021. Each session in the series began with dinner and fellowship time, followed by worship, a video presentation, and small group discussion. There were seven weekly sessions and a daylong retreat after the fifth session. Currently, the Shepherd of Souls AFC is offering “Following Christ,” the second of three steps that began in January and will end in March. The third step, “Sharing Christ,” is scheduled to follow in the spring. 

Encouragement to pastors and parish leaders 

If pastors or parish leaders are looking for an effective way to engage their parishioners, Fr. Horejsi highly recommends the ChristLife series. “I was really struck by how often people mentioned that it helped build community and relationships with other parishioners,” said Fr. Horejsi. 

“This process really helps parishioners to grow in their faith and provides the tools and encouragement to share their faith with others,” he said.

Rick and Pat Kusler also offered their encouragement. “If you are interested in ChristLife, go and sit in on a session and experience it for yourself,” Pat recommended.

“When you see how lives are touched, and people are opening up, it is very encouraging,” Rick added.


Participants’ Comments

The following is a sample of the comments offered by participants following their completion of Discovering Christ, the first of three sessions in the series of the ChristLife evangelization process.

“I always thought I was a Christian, but this course has shown me how to act like a Christian.”

“I went from feeling comfortable in my faith to feeling challenged and inspired to learn more.”

“After going through Discovering Christ, I feel more of a need to be involved in the parish.”

“I’ve always feared Reconciliation. I participated the day of our retreat and found it wasn’t anything to fear. I was reminded it is a positive experience.”

“I’ve grown in my ability to talk about my faith.”

“Discovering Christ has opened my mind to deeper conversion, to understanding my appreciation of my faith and love of the Lord. I realize I need to deepen my understanding of the Bible.”

“The discussions were helpful in deepening my faith and holding me accountable.”

“This course made me more conscious of my Catholic faith and seeking God’s plan for my life rather than my own.”


This article was originally posted in Prairie Catholic in the January/February 2022 issue.