Building DiscipleMakers at St. Philip Neri

By Charles Albert

On Oct 7, 2013, Archbishop Coakley’s pastoral letter described his vision of a new evangelization. He wanted the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to “Go Make Disciples.”  

In 2014, the Office of New Evangelization initiated the process with four small groups of parish leaders. The purpose was, initially, to co-discern with leaders from diverse parishes whether they thought the process would work as a means of helping adult parishioners to develop a personal relationship with Jesus and to develop the heart and habits of a disciple.  

Under the direction and enthusiasm of Deacon Norm Mejstrik, the process at Saint Philip Neri in Midwest City has more than 12 parishioners who have completed the 36 weeks of training. There are more than 120 parishioners and non-parishioners who have signed up for the small group meetings.

The process is a spiritual experience in small faith groups with the goal of developing closer relationships with Christ and fellow parishioners.

Deacon Mejstrik said the program has impacted him personally through, “discovery that Jesus loves me as an individual, the Holy Spirit is the source of our spiritual energy and development, growing in the faith, developing a habit of obedience to God's will and finally embracing the call to ‘Go Make Disciples.’” 

Carole Brown, director of new evangelization for the archdiocese said, “You could think of it as a way of doing RCIA for people who are already Catholic. It lays the foundation of the spiritual edifice of the Christian, nurtures the roots of his faith life and enables him/her to receive more solid nourishment in the ordinary life of the Christian community.” 

The process is based on availability, and can range from a full-day per month to one hour per week. It is designed not as an obligation, but an opportunity to strengthen faith. Everyone in the group is at a different stage in the walk with Christ.

Joy Murphy said she never has been involved in a spiritual experience such as Saint Philip Neri’s DiscipleMakers.

“It has opened a new world to me. It has given me an opportunity to open my faith, share my faith and understand what evangelization really means.” 

Once participants complete the six-step program, they can start a small group. James and Anna Timberlake are leaders of a group that includes five non-Catholic members. 

 “People are drawn to the Lord. When people see that Christ can provide true peace and true joy, they want and desire it for themselves. That peace and joy is attractive to everyone whether Catholic or non-Catholic.”

Charles Albert is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.