The desire to re-invigorate our Small Faith Group Ministry began back in August of 2021. As a staff, we’ve always been aware that at a parish the size of Blessed Sacrament, it’s often easy to feel like just a number while it can be difficult to take the first steps to joining in the abundant array of ministry and faith formation opportunities offered. When we coupled that hurdle with the fact that we were still battling Covid variants as well as the isolating effects of the pandemic, finding meaningful ways to connect people was a challenge. Because “communion” is central to who we are as Catholics, many of us found the distance and disconnection to be disconcerting, and our hope was that Small Faith Groups would help to bridge the gulf that social distancing had created.
Our theme for the 2022/2023 catechetical year was “We’re Home” which provided the perfect backdrop for the reintroduction of Small Faith Groups. Once it was decided that Lent of 2023 would be our jumping-off point for the initiative, several Lay Ministers and Father Rob met in June and August of 2022 to develop a plan with the help of Kristyn Russell, which included:
- an explanation and invitation video from Father Rob
- “A Prayer for Our Home” which we all received and prayed together at Mass on November 12
- videos from 7 current small faith group participants
- an interest survey
- a “Sign Up Sunday” event
Finally, after eighteen months of discussion and planning, we launched our Lenten Small Faith Group initiative on February 19, 2023. Based on the survey results and the number of people volunteering to facilitate, eight new Small Faith Groups met for the 6 weeks of Lent with 65 parishioners participating. Though the goal was the same for each group, “to make friends and make a difference while growing as disciples”, topics of discussion varied. One group was for caregivers, another focused on meditation, one was a Scripture study, and others used the Mass readings of the week to focus on what it means for them to live their faith in everyday ways.
Help us to create a home where others feel— A Prayer for Our Home
welcomed…where others are fed.
Feedback from the groups has been overwhelmingly positive! As participants came together to explore their faith, they were surprised by how quickly they grew comfortable with one another and how much they looked forward to the weekly discussion, laughter, and sharing. A highlight for some was the opportunity to pray with one another. Many reported seeing group members at Mass and realizing that this provided a new sense of connection and community for them. It made “big church” not feel quite so big!
Of the eight small groups that started in Lent, 7 are continuing through the Easter season with plans for starting up again in September. The one group that isn’t currently meeting is considering gathering again for Lent next year as a “seasonal” Small Faith Group. If reading this wonderful news about Small Faith Groups makes you wish that you had signed up this Lent, don’t worry! Small Faith Groups aren’t going anywhere. In September, options for joining a group will be advertised, and we will once again be starting new groups for the 6 weeks of Lent 2024.
If you are still on the fence about being part of a Small Faith Group, consider the fact that Jesus wasn’t a “lone ranger.” He could have chosen to travel his faith journey all on his own. If anyone could be successful doing life on his or her own, it would have been Jesus, but instead, he showed us a different way. He gathered a small group and they prayed, ate, and ministered together. Their lives and hearts were changed. It’s exciting to think that being part of a Small Faith Group could do the same for each of us as well!
Written by Lyn Pajk
Director of Faith Formation
Lyn Pajk has been a member of our Blessed Sacrament Parish Family for 21 years and a member of the Faith Formation team for 13 years. During that time she has ministered to elementary families, middle school families, and currently serves as the Coordinator of Adult Formation and as Team Leader. Her ministry focuses on providing opportunities for people to encounter Jesus in their daily lives, reflect on how that encounter changes them, and how they can live out their call as Catholic Christians in the world.