Why Catholic? Concludes at November Retreats

BELLAIRE — As the four-year “Why Catholic? Journey Through the Catechism” drew to a close earlier this month at celebrations in churches in Caldwell and Bellaire, the Diocese of Steubenville became the first ever to complete the RENEW International program.

At the initiation of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, “Why Catholic?” was launched in 2004 in parishes throughout the diocese.

The program was based on the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – the profession of faith, sacraments, life of Christ and Christian prayer – and utilized small-group sessions. Active “Why Catholic?” groups continue, Charity Sister Mary Ann Corr, director of the Office of Christian Formation, said to the people gathered at St. John Church, Bellaire, Nov. 2 to celebrate the completion of the program.

St. Joseph of Cluny Sister Marie Cooper, long-time staffer of RENEW International, Plainfield, N.J., conducted the retreat Nov. 2 in Bellaire and one the previous day at St. Stephen Church, Caldwell.

As Sister Cooper expressed her joy at returning to the diocese to offer the retreat – “Sitting By the Well, Meeting Jesus in Prayer” – she told of her recent return from Africa where 2,000 people have been trained as “Why Catholic?” leaders.

The concluding retreat focused “on the marvelous gift of water. You’re invited to sit with Jesus and to recognize all creation is blessed because he took on human flesh …,” Sister Cooper reminded. “Jesus wants to give us living water … to quench our deepest thirst. …
“We are disciples of Jesus. The great teacher we listen to is Christ. While I’m leading the prayer, God is the leader of prayer.”
After he celebrated Mass with retreatants, Bishop Conlon told them he hoped that they had found “Why Catholic?” spiritually enriching, and he called on them to keep Jesus Christ at the center of their lives, no matter what they do.

As she brought the retreat to a close, Sister Cooper told participants that even though “Why Catholic?” has formally ended, it does not have to be the end of small groups. Also, she urged the people to pass on the learning and formation they have received during the four years of the program to others in their parishes.
If small groups are continued, she suggested members look at materials that deepen their faith.

To individuals, she advised, “It’s good to keep a prayer journal, … and then reread (the pages) to show where you are in your life.”

Though she provided additional titles of series that could be used by small groups, Sister Cooper said, “Whatever you do in your small groups, keep going. Groups do best that meet at least once a month. … Other groups meet once a week, even if everybody can’t be there.

“What you have learned in ‘Why Catholic?’ is faith sharing – prayer, learning, sharing, mutual support and mission. If you (continue) to do (those things,) you will have a dynamic small Christian community.”

Article and photo courtesy of Pat DeFrancis of The Steubenville Register, the Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of Steubenville

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About RENEW International RENEW International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization based in Plainfield, NJ, in the Archdiocese of Newark. RENEW International fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action. Since 1980, RENEW International has been revitalizing parish life in over 130 dioceses in the United States, touching the lives of 25 million people through its renewal processes. RENEW International also reaches many thousands outside the United States, having served people in 25 countries, across six continents and in almost 50 languages.