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Why Catholic? Guides Participants to Deeper Relationship with God

BY TERESA LANTIGUA PETERSON

SANFORD | Amy Cantley is a busy mom who wants to learn more about her Catholic faith. But as a full-time student who is also home-schooling her 10-year-old daughter, she found it difficult to find faith opportunities that fit her schedule — until she found Why Catholic?

“I really like the flexibility. I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m hoping through Why Catholic? I will grow closer to God,” said Cantley, 32, parishioner of All Souls Parish in Sanford.

Cantley and nine others formed a small Christian community that meet on Saturday afternoons in the Deltona home of facilitator Bernadette Moore. The group will be meeting for six weeks to explore Christian Prayer: Deepening My Experience of God, the first-year theme of Why Catholic?

Small Christian communities at 50 parishes have formed as part of Why Catholic? an adult faith formation and evangelization program that launched in the Diocese of Orlando Oct. 4. The groups are meeting in homes, churches, assisted-living facilities and even restaurants.

“We’re meeting at places where people gather,” said Deacon David Gray, facilitator and coordinator of Why Catholic? at St. James Cathedral in Orlando. “This is not just about learning our faith, but sharing our faith through relationships.”

Deacon Gray facilitates a small Christian community of men that started out with four men but grew to eight because members of the group invited others to join them.

“These men are focused on knowing their faith and living their faith. They want to be good examples for their children,” Deacon Gray said. His group meets Monday mornings at 7:30.

Gary Hays, 63, participated in a program of RENEW International back in the 1980s and is enthusiastic about RENEW International’s newest initiative, Why Catholic?

“It’s great to hear others discussing their faith and it often opens up a new perspective about my faith and my relationship with God and others,” said Hays.

During the first session on October 11, the St. James group spent extra time getting to know each other, and sharing about their faith and families. Their first take-home assignment was to journal about their prayer life and look for ways to develop a new rhythm of prayer and new habits that demonstrate prayer is important to their lives.

Deacon Gray concluded, “This is the new rhythm of our life we’re going to embrace.”

Peterson is the communications manager for the Diocese of Orlando.

This article appeared in The Florida Catholic and on the Diocese of Orlando website. It is used with permission.

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