By all counts, Michael Rosson is an active parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel on Staten Island. He is a member of the pastoral council and the family liturgy committee.
On April 17 and 18, he was among 10 people from his parish, along with their pastor, Father Liam O’Doherty, O.S.A., who attended the New York Discovering Christ Training Conference offered for the first time at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.
Rosson spoke with CNY after listening closely during “Preparing to Run a Fruitful Course,” a session on the nuts and bolts of establishing a parish committee to conduct the seven-week Discovering Christ component of the ChristLife Catholic evangelization series.
Before coming to St. Joseph’s, Rosson and two other parishioners had traveled to the Archdiocese of Baltimore last month along with Father O’Doherty to attend the Discovering Christ national conference.
“I’ve had a transformational experience,” Rosson said of his experiences in Baltimore and at St. Joseph’s. The “grassroots nature” of Discovering Christ, with its emphasis on creating a “warmly welcoming” atmosphere for each person who attends, is a “spot-on” approach to evangelization, Rosson said.
Our Lady of Good Counsel already has held two planning sessions in anticipation of offering Discovering Christ in September. “We’re committed to doing this,” he said.
About 150 people attended the two-day session at St. Joseph’s, which began on Friday evening and continued all day Saturday. More than 30 parishes were represented, including about a third who have not previously hosted the Discovering Christ program, said Daniel Frascella, director of adult faith formation for the archdiocese. Most were from the Archdiocese of New York, with a smattering from the Diocese of Albany and the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. The vast majority of participants were lay parishioners, with a good number of priests and deacons also attending. Mass was offered on Saturday morning by Father Daniel Tuite, parochial vicar of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie.
St. Martin of Tours parish in the Bronx had the largest contingent, with 16 parishioners attending along with their pastor, Father Cosme Fernandes.
The conference was promoted as a practical way to receive comprehensive training for Discovering Christ, a Christ-centered approach designed to ignite evangelization efforts in Catholic parishes. Many parishes in the archdiocese, especially in the upper counties, have already offered Discovering Christ and other components of ChristLife for a number of years.
Dianne Davis, New York regional director for ChristLife, is a parishioner of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie, where more than 600 people have participated in Discovering Christ and other ChristLife offerings in recent years. While leading the session on “Preparing to Run a Fruitful Course,” her overriding message to attendees, especially those who were by themselves, was, “You can do this.”
Ms. Davis’ presentation offered practical step-by-step advice for getting started, such as setting up a basic planning timeline, developing a budget, recruiting and assembling teams, preparing a training day and creating a welcoming atmosphere.
Dave Nodar, director and founder of ChristLife, spoke to CNY before leading a session on “A New Pentecost for a New Evangelization.” He was one of five members of the national team who came for the New York conference.
When parishes become fully engaged in Discovering Christ, they change for the better, Nodar noted. “This brings real change of life to people.”