Vancouver parishioners discern spiritual gifts at ‘called and gifted’ workshop

  • Written by Morningstar Stevenson
  • Published in Local
“Called and Gifted” workshop participants are provided with materials to help them discern their spiritual gifts. Photo: Courtesy Catherine of Siena Institute “Called and Gifted” workshop participants are provided with materials to help them discern their spiritual gifts. Photo: Courtesy Catherine of Siena Institute

VANCOUVER – Sean Denniston has taken every personality test you can think of — but he had never taken one tied to his faith.

That changed during a recent “Called and Gifted” workshop hosted by his parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Vancouver. Denniston and 84 other parishioners learned about charisms, or spiritual gifts.

The workshop taught him that a talent can be used to serve, Denniston said, but it also can be used simply for a hobby or a source of personal enjoyment. “It’s easy to get insight into your talents,” he said. “But the framework of charism made it so much more insightful. It was more about, God gave you this gift to give someone else.”

The workshop, offered by the Catherine of Sienna Institute, was led by its executive director Sherry Anne Weddell and Mary Sharon Moore, a nationally known Catholic speaker and author. 

Using our gifts to serve God

Moore, who has taught the workshop since 2002, sees it as a bridge to finding one’s mission or vocation. “Charisms are the way we discern what our work is in the world,” she said.

Mary Sharon Moore
Mary Sharon Moore, a Catholic speaker and author, taught parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Vancouver how to discern their spiritual gifts, or charisms, during a recent workshop. Photo: Mary Hernandez

A charism is “a direct engagement in the Holy Spirit,” she added, and the work that comes from a person’s charisms is always for the good of others. 

Some charisms are more common than others, Moore said. And some people, in learning their charism is “ordinary” (administration, service, or hospitality), express disappointment. But she tells them it’s “God’s way of telling us those charisms are more broadly needed in the garden of humanity.”

Parishioner Christie Walker said she attended the workshop because she’s been feeling God’s call lately. The results of her “gifts inventory” didn’t surprise her, but Walker said it was nice to be able to focus on her top charisms, which include writing, pastoring and serving.

“This might be the thing that gives me some clarity and direction,” she said.

Becoming more engaged in parish, community 

Understanding one’s charisms can be a “freeing” experience, said Tony Vasinda, pastoral assistant for evangelization and mission at St. Luke Parish in Shoreline. After his parish hosted the “Called and Gifted” workshop in December 2017 (with 120 participants) more parishioners began to feel they could say “no” to opportunities that don’t involve their charisms.

That also means that parishioners can say “yes” to opportunities that use their spiritual gifts, said Mary Hernandez, volunteer coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes. 

“If you do it and it sets you on fire, you go and do more,” Hernandez said. “That energizes you.”

Moore, who has offered the workshop in her home parish in Oregon, has seen participants not only become more engaged in their parish, but also more engaged in their own lives.

That’s a lesson Denniston took from the workshop. “There’s a role for your charism within the community of faith and outside the community,” he said.

He noticed that participants seemed excited at the end of the day, but also ready for some deeper introspection. 

“People came away from the workshop with a new way of looking at themselves,” Denniston said. “I need to think about this more deeply because this is a revolutionary way of thinking about the gifts I’ve been given for a purpose.”