The Diocese of Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Launches Why Catholic?

Submitted by Sr. Marie Cooper, SJC, RENEW Africa Project Leader

With small Christian communities going strong after RENEW Africa and Lenten Longings, parishes across the diocese are in intense preparation to begin faith sharing with Why Catholic? Journey through the Catechism at the end of August after the Parish Mission, Meeting Christ in Prayer.

Father Jerry Browne, Director of the Pastoral Development Office for the diocese, toured the diocese encouraging renewal of leadership prior to the launch and many new Parish Core Community members have attended the introductory workshop in the various regions of the diocese.

Despite unusually cold weather (including a hail storm), participants were eager to learn more about Christian Prayer, and to prepare to lead various methods of prayer in their communities. Some of the comments on their evaluation forms follow.

The most important thing I learned is:
  • wow, this prayer (meditation and contemplation) is for lay people, too!
  • how to lead different kinds of prayer in my community
  • that difficulties in prayer are not a punishment
  • how prayer changes us
  • how Why Catholic? can reach the whole parish
  • prayer can be experienced differently by each member of the group
  • how to stay focused in prayer
  • how to guide the group to learn to pray spontaneously
  • I struggle with prayer because I have to change
  • how to speak to God at a deeper level
  • how to get in tune with the Holy Spirit and be led in prayer
  • to reach out to my fellow parishioners and spread the “healing” of these sessions
  • to open myself up to my Redeemer so that he can lead me and give me the confidence and authority to lead prayer
  • to enjoy the inner self experience in prayer
  • how to improve leadership in he group
  • that there are stages of payer in your live and at times God leas us to a threshold and new way of prayer and we need to take that risk and allow God to lead us.

And the list goes on! It has been an amazing experience for me.
Christian Prayer is obviously responding to a deep thirst among our people.

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