WELLSBORO — For the past four years, members of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Wellsboro have been taking part in an evangelization ministry that helps them grow closer in their relationship with God.
Recently, organizers of the ChristLife ministry shared how the program has helped them deepen their relationship with God and Jesus Christ as they prepare for the fifth year of the program.
Starting Oct. 6, anyone — whether they attend St. Peter’s services or not — can join the ChristLife series of three seven-week sessions.
“It brings the original good news of Jesus Christ in a way that maybe has never been experienced before,” said Norb Josten, adding, “It’s falling in love, really. It’s what He wants for us: to respond to the incredible love He has for us.”
The sessions lead from first to second to third, each one concluding with a one-day retreat that begins the introduction to the next session. The first session, “Discovering Christ,” opens with a meal with participants sitting in small groups at tables. Following the meal, they watch a video then have dessert while the table facilitator asks a series of questions relating to the video. The first lesson, said Josten, is “What is the meaning of life?”
The second session is “Discovering what it means to be a follower of Christ” and the final session is “Sharing Christ.”
“I always thought I had a good relationship with Christ,” said Colleen Lauser. “It took what I thought was good and made it a whole lot better.”
Marilyn Laczi said she persevered with the program despite doubts after the first session, and now enjoys watching those in her group “blossom from the realization that you can have a personal relationship with Jesus and it is a beautiful thing.”
Tara Gordon said she attended with her husband David following the realization that she was growing away from the church. ChristLife helped her find what was missing.
“It’s made a huge impact on our life and how we raise our children,” she said.
Sitting together, sharing food and life experiences creates a bond between the group, said Linda Sampson. Many time, these are people seen at church, but without a close relationship. Through ChristLife, that group has developed a bond of prayer and shared experiences, which another group member called “sisters in Christ.”
While the meal nourishes the participant’s body, the stories of faith and sharing strengthen and nourish the spirit, said Sampson.
No one is compelled to share, said Josten, and all sharing remains confidential to those at each table.
After four complete cycles, the program is having an impact on the church and making inroads into the community, said participants. A welcoming committee has formed in the wake of ChristLife and a parish retreat is in the works for next spring.
It prompts those who take part to look outward and find ways to share God’s love with others, said Josten.
“Some times the smallest changes make the biggest effects,” said Lauser.
ChristLife will be held Wednesday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. beginning Oct. 9 in St. Peter’s Parish Center. Child care is available. Call 570-724-9095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.