When Dianne Davis first attended a Discovering Christ training conference in November 2009, she never imagined that eight years later the Holy Spirit would lead her to run a county-wide Discovering Christ course impacting 500 members of her community.

The idea of a county-wide Discovering Christ came to her after attending a conference and meeting with her spiritual director. It seemed like the answer to her desire for a way to evangelize her community outside of the parish walls. Her prayer became “Lord, if this is not your idea, shut the door.” After a series of meetings with her bishop and several other Catholic leaders, the planning began. Before every step in the process—from building the intercessory prayer team to finding a location to choosing a caterer—Dianne continued praying, “Lord, if this is not your idea, shut the door.” And God continued to open the doors.

The first step was recruiting and training a team of over 175 volunteers from almost all of the twenty parishes in Dutchess County. Many of the team members had already been through Discovering Christ and were excited to help others experience it.

Every person on the team was given the tools necessary to spread the word to people in their lives. Team members shared testimonies at Masses, placed lawn signs in their neighborhoods, put bumper stickers on their cars, and handed out postcards to their friends, neighbors, family and co-workers. Their love for the Lord overcame their fear of evangelizing! They were also strategic about inviting people outside of the Church pews by using billboards in the community and radio advertisements. The professionally-designed materials asked a simple question: “What’s the meaning of life?” and directed them to visit itsworthasking.org.

On Sunday, September 9th, 500 people arrived to the transformed gymnasium at Our Lady of Lourdes High School. Catholics from the pews, inactive Catholics, other Christians, and non-Christians sat down around tables to discuss the meaning of life.

At each session participants found a safe place to explore the meaning of life and a relationship with God. Small group facilitators and helpers set the tone from the very beginning so that people felt comfortable sharing their thoughts. Each night guests left with huge smiles on their faces and expressed gratitude for the hospitality.

Small group discussions gave guests the chance to reflect on their own lives and provided the opportunity to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. One guest shared, “I did experience a change in my relationship with Christ…. It is not a one-sided relationship. I know that I love Jesus, but now I have a much stronger feeling that Jesus truly does love me...”

The Holy Spirit retreat was a powerful day for the hundreds who attended. They heard talks about who the Holy Spirit is and how we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. For an hour, 23 prayer teams were available as many people stepped forward to commit their lives to Jesus.

Over the span of seven-weeks, many lives were changed by the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Catholics in the pews were inspired to live their faith with more fervor: “I believe my faith and my relationship with Jesus has been significantly deepened and renewed… I have also started reading the Bible more when I pray. I am definitely renewed and excited about my future and my faith.”

People who were searching have found what they were looking for: “I had a very cynical experience with the church that made me question and doubt everything, including God. I have visited many churches and I always felt the same way: ‘I don’t agree with the theology, I don’t feel the Holy Spirit,’ but that’s normal for me. Then I came to Discovering Christ. This is the first time in 30 years that I have felt the Holy Spirit! I am now enrolled in RCIA and am joining the Catholic Church!”

Through Discovering Christ, many people found a relationship with Jesus to be the answer to the question “What is the meaning of my life?” As one guest shared, “Jesus is my teacher... my savior. I have spoken to Christ every day. I have asked the Holy Spirit to come in and to guide me. I have never had such a personal experience.”

The next step for the leadership team is helping people continue on the journey they started through Discovering Christ. Dianne and her team are partnering with the Archdiocese of New York to form small groups, offer Bible studies, and host a Following Christ course.