Bringing Small Christian Communities to
Our Service Men and Women
WHY CATHOLIC? Launched in the EAST Vicariate

By Sr. Maureen Colleary, FSP
Pastoral Services Team, RENEW International

Military personnel have unique challenges, often facing danger and living far from home. RENEW International believes that Why Catholic? Journey Through the Catechism benefits our men and women in uniform because many of life’s adversities are best addressed within a group setting, using faith and prayer to foster greater connectedness to and understanding of God at work in our lives.

A key objective of Why Catholic? is to help people in the military develop a more personal relationship with God through better understanding of the Catholic faith, and to help them be able to live a fuller Christ-centered life. With military personnel often far from home and in harm’s way, building a deeper faith is vital for them, their spouses, and their children. At the core of Why Catholic? is the formation of small Christian communities for prayer, reflection, and sharing. These small groups provide an ideal, supportive environment for awakening and deepening faith in a way that is both effective and engaging.

Why Catholic?
Mark Moitoza and Sr. Maureen Colleary (far left) join Archbishop Timothy Broglio
and members of several bases at the August 2012

Why Catholic? training at MacDill AFB in FL

Why Catholic? also fosters a more vibrant Catholic community on each military base. RENEW International’s professional presenters train lay leaders at military bases in how to lead Why Catholic? Participants use the Why Catholic? series of books and spiritual music to explore the pillars of Catholic teaching through the lens of Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church: how we pray, what we believe, how we worship, and how we live. The resources then encourage small group members to put their deeper faith into action in their lives.

Msgr. Philip W. Hill, Garrison Command Chaplain at Ft. Belvoir, is excited to bring this experience to his chapel community, “We have a very active and vibrant Catholic Community at Ft. Belvoir. Why Catholic? helps take us to the next level. The training we have gone through has given new confidence to each of our leaders. Talk about contagious! Each week more and more people seek to join us, and the number of the small communities is growing. I am so glad we have this opportunity for our lay people to assume new dimensions of spiritual leadership with their fellow parishioners.”

Military participants in Why Catholic? report that they develop a stronger commitment to their faith, become more confident sharing it with others, and feel part of a supportive Christian community. More than 40 military chaplaincies have successfully implemented Why Catholic? since 2006, reaching almost 4,000 Catholics.

This August and September, additional trainings will be presented at Ft. Belvoir, VA and MacDill AFB, FL for the EAST Vicariate. Chapel teams and small community leaders will also have access to ongoing pastoral consultation and a library of web-based resources to ensure a positive experience. Through a new partnership between Catholic Extension, RENEW International, and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, bases can now take full advantage of this proven process with no service fees.
    These bases/installations are currently participating in Why Catholic?

    - Ft. Belvoir, VA
    - MacDill AFB, FL
    - USMC Cherry Point, NC
    - Redstone Arsenal, AL
    - Ft. Meade, MD
    - Ft. Bragg, NC
    - Ft. Benning, GA
    - Ft. Jackson, SC
    - Seymour Johnson AFB, SC
    - King’s Bay USN, GA
    - Dover AFB, DE

New chapel communities, and new participants at current communities, are welcome to join this process. For more information, please contact Sr. Maureen Colleary or Dr. Mark Moitoza To learn more about Why Catholic? Journey Through the Catechism visit our website.

Article written for the Summer 2013 Salute magazine, the official publication of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

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