Charism of Pastoring
Definition: Building Christian community by nurturing the relationships and long-term spiritual growth of a group.
2 min Video testimony from Fr Phil describing the transformational spiritual growth & fellowship of a group on pilgrimage.
Testimony 1 of 3: The Charism of Pastoring
“I think that building community is one of the most important things I can do, because people often have a sense of being loved by God when they feel they are being loved by His people.”
When I went to the Called and Gifted teaching, and heard Sherry Weddell describing the Charism of Pastoring, I realised she was describing me!
Fifteen years ago I trained to become an Alpha Course leader. During the training, I asked for prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As they prayed for me, I experienced a deep feeling of love and had a clear thought that the Lord wanted me to set up small groups in my home parish.
When I got home I set up a prayer group, a Bible study group and a group which ran the Alpha course. I found it really easy to do this, which at the time I thought was because I had developed a lot of group skills through my work as a management consultant. Now I realise I found it easy because it is my charism! Over and above my learned skilfulness, I seemed to have an inbuilt longing to bring people together. I found that I loved getting people together to discuss their faith and to grow in their understanding of the Gospel. The groups were a great success and people flourished within them.
The Alpha course developed follow-up groups, which left me free to set up a second Alpha course. As people in all the groups grew in spiritual maturity, new leaders emerged and I was able to hand the groups over to them. I kept on getting more ideas for setting up new groups in our parish. I had the idea of forming a group for the parents of young people being confirmed, so I provided a meal for them as a way of bringing them together. They really enjoyed being together and the groups remained part of our parish life for many years. This passion for bringing people together has continued, and I seem to do it all the time. I have set up house-groups, fund-raising groups and a group for women’s ministry.
Whenever I do anything, I instinctively find other people to do it with me. Sometimes I am not able to go to something myself, like the Diocesan Day for Catechists, but I still spent time emailing all the catechists I know and organising car shares so that they could get to know each other and become a community.
A short while ago I felt compelled to go to a Caritas meeting, not because I have time to be involved myself, but so I could explore how I could use Caritas as a means of bringing people together.
I have seen people really flourish as a result of being in one of the groups I have organised. Recently I hosted a day when we could focus on Our Lady; I invited women to our home and I provided them with a meal. I asked a lady to give a talk who had never given a talk before. She really blossomed as a result, and since then has been invited to give other talks to other groups. I also included a time of open prayer, and many of the women prayed aloud for the very first time.
Nurturing spiritual growth can sometimes require perseverance and determination. I remember one lady who refused to come on Alpha, even though I invited her several times. Eventually she agreed to do the cooking for one of the courses and then she came on the next course and has since become much closer to Jesus and has got involved in all sorts of initiatives. She has now discerned a Charism of Encouragement which she uses to great effect with the young mothers in her parish.
I think that building community is one of the most important things I can do, because people often have a sense of being loved by God when they feel they are being loved by His people.