Video on discipleship shows that it’s not for a select few, but for everyone
Everyone is called to discipleship, although some may doubt how qualified they are. Jenny Witt said they shouldn’t worry about that.
“People, when they hear that word, think to be a disciple of Jesus I have to be perfect and have everything together,” said Witt, director of evangelization at St. Philomena Parish in Peoria. “It’s just the opposite, actually, if we look at who Jesus calls to follow him. It was the ‘B Team,’ essentially.”
Witt and Matt Faley, chief of mission for the Diocese of Peoria, dig into discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus in a video that is the second in a series about the “Five Foundations.” The videos are designed to support the Growing Disciples pastoral planning process, which aims to build a “mission-driven, vibrant church of tomorrow.”
Snippets of “Inspiring Discipleship” have also been posted to give people food for thought on specific topics, such as “Discipleship: Grow Where You are Planted” and “Discipleship: Saying Yes.”
Bishop Louis Tylka said those foundations grew out of conversations with priests and lay leaders around the diocese. In addition to discipleship, the foundations include evangelization, the Eucharist, vocations and the legacy of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
The first video, which features a conversation between Bishop Tylka and Father Adam Cesarek, pastor of St. Mary in Pontiac, was posted in November. Plans call for the third video, which focuses on strengthening vocations to the priesthood and religious life, to be posted March 14.
To find the videos, which are the work of Sam Mangieri of Fiat Films, visit cdop.org/pastoral-plan/five-foundations.
WE HAVE A MISSION
Bishop Tylka consistently reminds us of the necessity of following Jesus each day, and then inviting others to do the same, Witt told The Catholic Post.
“It’s a reminder that we have an identity, that we belong, and that we have a mission,” she said. “It’s all related to this relationship that we have with our God, who invites us into that kind of loving relationship.”
It helps in our daily life to know that we have an identity that rests in the Lord and spills over into our interactions with others, she explained.
If God is present to us — most especially in the Eucharist — then we must be present to others and share the essence of God with them, according to Witt.
That can be as simple as looking someone in the eye when greeting them, she said.
“I talk to my students about that. I call them by name and look them in the eye because they’re a child of God and I want to share God’s love with them, and in exchange they’re sharing God’s love with me,” she said, adding that they talk about who they can greet and share God’s love with when they leave school for the day.
“There are simple things we can do to really help grow the mission of our church, which is to share Christ with others and to be Christ in the world,” Witt said.
The way Jesus called people would have been very familiar to the people of his day.
In that culture, boys would study the Torah and learn their father’s trade. Itinerant preachers and teachers called rabbis would go from town to town and eventually would say to someone, “OK, you come follow me.”
The apostles were not chosen that way because they were continuing the work they had learned. Faley said it was Jesus who chose them and said, “Come, follow me.”
“For us now, it’s not just Jewish boys anymore. It’s everybody,” Faley said. “It’s men and women of all ages, called to follow Jesus so closely that, as we hear in the Scriptures, we take his yoke upon us and learn from him, to see the world as he sees the world.”
That means continuing the mission, continuing the proclamation of the Gospel for our generation, “to be stewards of this amazing story for our generation and for generations to come.”
Faley added that just as Jesus had a plan, we must not be random in our discipleship. First there must be an encounter, meeting people where they are in their life. The next step is accompanying them on their journey — “Let me show you,” he said.
Eventually we can invite them to Mass and the community we are involved with.
“Then it’s their turn to answer that call to go, to do the same thing I just witnessed to you and do it with two, four, five people in your radius,” he said.
This is something innate in all of us because we were created for relationship and Jesus modeled that, Faley said.
“It’s such a beautiful adventure,” he said.