Pilot program held at seven locations around archdiocese
By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
CASCADE — Parishioners from around the archdiocese have taken a step forward in their faith journey after recently completing a new program called “My Walk with God.”
This program is meant to bring to parishes the type of learning that happens in IMPACT, a two-year lay formation program offered by the Archdiocese of Dubuque in which participants meet monthly to discuss a topic, based on the reading of a book or selected online material. Through a combination of study, prayer, reflection and conversation, participants are challenged to respond more fully to the call of Christian discipleship in their parish and community.
In 2014, two participants of IMPACT contacted Mary Pedersen, who leads the IMPACT program and serves as the director of the Office of Adult Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, to discuss the possibility of duplicating the IMPACT experience in parishes and clusters in the archdiocese.
Pedersen agreed to explore the possibility. When she later introduced the idea at an IMPACT meeting, 12 members volunteered to be part of the experiment and serve as facilitators. They met for a year reviewing dozens of books, choosing songs, writing a journal and creating a program that they could implement at the parish level.
That new program, titled My Walk with God, does not replace IMPACT, but offers another option for lay people looking for formation opportunities in parishes and clusters. Pedersen believes a participant in My Walk with God may have a desire to build on the experience by eventually joining IMPACT.
“My Walk with God focuses on basic personal and spiritual formation of discipleship: Who am I? Who is God? Where is God calling me to serve? IMPACT goes deeper with spiritual formation while including intellectual and pastoral formation – leading to parish leadership. Much of the richness with IMPACT is the interaction with men and women throughout the archdiocese, plus the teaching of archdiocesan leaders, including Loras College professors,” Pedersen explained.
The new program kicked off in September of last year. Seven sites were selected to serve as a pilot for the project. Six of these met once a month and the other met weekly. Throughout the year, My Walk with God facilitators continued to meet, both online and in person, to discuss their group’s experiences. Evaluations were collected monthly and adjustments made to the program as needed according to participants’ feedback.
All seven groups have now completed their My Walk with God experience. Participants have had positive things to say about the program.
“My Walk with God was a tremendous experience for me!” Kathy Beck of St. Thomas Aquinas Pastorate, one of the participants, said. “ I got to know some of the people of our pastorate better and was always amazed at their insight. We had a great group that shared a great deal and we truly enjoyed each others company. The books were very interesting and really gave us all a lot to think about.”
Another participant, Connie Mettille of the New Albin Linkage, said of the program, “It brought the life of Christ, the Apostles and Disciples to the forefront to show us how this faith started from the beginning and grew to where we are today. It reinforced where the heavenly Father is leading me in my walk. Anyone taking this time to walk will open their eyes to where they are in their walk or where they could be in their walk of faith.”
My Walk with God will be available online at dbqarch.org in the near future. If someone is interested in offering the program at their parish or in a church group, they should contact Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sites that participated in the My Walk with God pilot project:
- St. Thomas Aquinas Pastorate: St. Matthias, Cascade; Sacred Heart, Fillmore; St. Patrick, Garryowen; St. Peter, Temple Hill
- Linked parishes: St. Joseph, New Albin; St. Ann-St. Joseph, Harpers Ferry; Immaculate Conception, Lansing; Immaculate Conception, Wexford
- Linked parishes: Sacred Heart, Oelwein; Immaculate Conception, Fairbank
- Blessed Trinity Cluster: St. Mary, Manchester; Immaculate Conception, Masonville; St. Patrick, Ryan, linked with St. John, Delhi
- Community of Disciples Cluster: St. Mark, Iowa Falls; St. Mary, Eldora
- St. Pius X, Cedar Rapids; two groups were established with participants from Cedar Rapids area parishes
- Waterloo small group, meeting once a week
A group of ‘My Walk with God’ participants from the New Albin-area linked parishes. The pilot program for lay Catholics looking to grow in their faith took place at seven locations around the archdiocese. (Contributed photo)