Apostolate helps faithful to truly know Christ

By Joshua Bitting
Crowded into an at-capacity room at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, about 120 adults consider the meaning of life. At Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Wichita, a full house crowd encounters the personal love of God for them. At the rural parish of Sacred Heart in Colwich, 90 attendees come to a deeper realization of what it means that Jesus is their Savior and Lord.
These three scenes are representative of a movement that is happening throughout the diocese to provide opportunities for people to discover, or re-discover, the person of Jesus Christ. Comments from participants illuminate the meaning of these experiences for them. “It has truly set my heart on fire for the Lord.” “I have a start on a more personal relationship with Christ.” “In the beginning I felt like a stranger. Today I feel like family.”
The three parishes are among eight parishes in the diocese experiencing the ministry of ChristLife. This process is an outreach of the ChristLife organization, an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The ChristLife process is unique in that it creatively and concretely answers the call to a new evangelization called for by our last three popes. Though we have much written on the new evangelization, many Catholics ask the question, “How do I do it?” ChristLife provides an answer to that question.
The ChristLife process of evangelization consists in three, seven-week courses. Courses are offered once each week and also include a day retreat where people have an opportunity to be with the Lord and share in community with others.
In the first course, Discovering Christ, participants come together for a shared meal, hear an inspiring teaching, and have the opportunity to discuss what they think and feel about what they have heard in a small group setting.
For those who have encountered Christ in a life-changing way, the next stage is Following Christ, a course that imparts practical direction on developing and growing as a disciple of Jesus.
Sharing Christ, the final course of the process, takes the life of discipleship to the next level by helping participants develop the tools and confidence to share Christ with others through friendship and simple ways of inviting others to come to know Christ as Lord.
Many Christians unfamiliar with the Catholic Church mix with lifelong cradle Catholics and “seekers” to create an atmosphere of support and encouragement.
One of the most frequent comments received was the sense of coming to know Jesus Christ as a person with whom they could have a relationship. The turning point for many is the move from simply “knowing about Christ” to “knowing Christ” in a personal way.
Parishes offering the ChristLife Process are Sacred Heart, Colwich; St. Vincent de Paul, Andover; Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Wichita; Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Wichita; Saint Catherine of Siena, Wichita; Holy Family, Marion; Saint James, Augusta; and Church of the Holy Spirit, Goddard.
Bitting is director of the diocesan office of Faith Formation.