Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell


Just curious if anyone has read this book or if anyone is familiar with the Catherine of Siena Institute and if so, what are your thoughts?



Every Catholic should read FID.

When I read it, that book knocked me over. To use an old protestant term, there was such conviction that I had been part of the problem for so many years.

I’m slowly as I can afford it buying copies and giving them away.


I have read this book. It was used by a large group in our Diocese as we began to look at beginning a discipleship and stewardship ((approach, process). I thought it does a very dood job of realistically looking at where we are as Catholics, and where and how we can move forward. The first chapter is a little discouraging (but very honest and true), it can be used as a tool to look at change.


Oh thank goodness I’m not the only one! I bought 7 copies and handed them all out. This was the first book our Catholic book club read and as we are completing it, we realize that we want more than just a book club. This small group of 12 want to help the rest of our parish grow spiritually. However, we aren’t sure how. I have Weddell’s other books, “A Parish of Intentional Disciples” and “Fruitful Discipleship”. I also order the “Called and Gifted” set for small group workshops, but not the CD, yet. I just don’t know where to begin. I feel like there is so much work to be done! But I also feel the need to slow down and wait. Does that make any sense? Did reading the book help you become more spiritually active in your parish?


Did it change anything in your parish? We desperately need to wake our little parish community up. What did your parish do after reading the book? I"m trying to figure out whats the next step.
Yes, the first chapter, with all the statistics is a little hard to get through but necessary to understand the importance and urgency of the matter.


I’ve been super involved in my parish for almost 20 years. Been on staff for a decade. So far I have not been able to get any other staff member, nor any priest or Deacon, to read it in our parish. It can be very discouraging, but, I just keep doing what I can do!


It was difficult to get our little group actually reading it, as well. After the first chapter, many thought it was boring and lost interested, but, I created PowerPoints to get their attention and ask engaging questions to spark the discussion. I also had them complete a Spiritual Styles Inventory which was a big hit and made it more personal for each of them. So many of us are just too busy to actually sit down and read, which is sad. But the presentations really seem to be working! Last week we invited a Catholic from another parish to come give her testimony. She had been through a lot and we could easily see why she left the church and returned. If a strong presences of intentional disciples had been in place at that parish, maybe she wouldn’t have left in the first place. We need a support system, especially in these times. I really feel the Holy Spirit putting this in place. I just have a problem wanting to know whats coming and instead of telling me, the Holy Spirit is saying… just wait and see. lol
I’ll pray that you can somehow get your parish interested in the book. It really is an eye opener! They are blessed to have someone as dedicated as you, don’t every give up. :slight_smile:


I would take it a step further, it is essential to understand this in order to move forward in a meaningful manner.


It is a process, and seems so slow at times. That is what I need to get over. We, or at least our parish didn’t arrive where we are over a month or a year. It will change, but not in my time frame.

If you get a chance to hear Fr. Jarrod Lies (pronounced Lees), don’t hesitate. Here’ one:

Did it change anything? It has. Like I said it is slow, but in our small parish I have seen an increase in attendance, interaction of parishioners, and we have had a very small but real increase in hospitality, prayer, and, I believe, evangelization within our members.

This is from our Diocese website, so I assume it is free of copyright restrictions.


There is a published Study Guide


Our parish got the book and passed it around at the parish council level and then to the general parish.
My personal take is that it’s ok to good…but somewhat narrow in it’s focus.
Would take more time than I have at the moment to expound.


I think it’s a great book for starting to think outside of the box. I have seen this play out in many places. People get stuck in doing things “because that’s the way we’ve always done them.” We need to occasionally take stock of where we are at and why we are doing things.


I had a negative experience with the philosophy/theology of the whole concept, when I looked into their embrace of (or distancing from) Marian devotion. This is my concern about many “new approaches” to Catholic renewal - many are almost protestant in the sense of great focus on initial proclamation of Jesus as Savior, and unwillingness to go ahead with the full Catholic embrace of all that Jesus has revealed to the Church, including Marian devotion.

I began a thread for discussion on their forum, asking if Marian devotion is brought into their making of “intentional disciples”, and if so, how and when. The leader of the forum got into the discussion very quickly and was nervous about the issue. She wrote:

“All that is required of any faithful Catholic is belief in the Marian Dogmas like the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. There are many legitimate and fruitful spiritual paths with the whole of the Catholic Tradition. Some are deeply Marian and some are not. My whole reason for stating the obvious is to make sure that all who share regarding the role of Mary in their walk with Jesus do not fall into the rather common trap of stating or implying that said devotion or approach to prayer is necessary and required of all disciples. I will delete any comments along those lines.”
[bold added by me now for emphasis]

I responded, including the Catechism teaching concerning Marian devotion:

Catechism 971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” [Lk 1:48; Paul VI, MC 56] The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs… This very special devotion … differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” [LG 66] The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. [Cf. Paul VI, MC 42; SC 103]
[again, bold added by me now for emphasis]

The whole thread included more back-and-forth, but was deleted completely soon after this.

I’ve seen this marginalizing of Mary in so many “new” programs of re-evangelization of Catholic parishes, that it deeply troubles me. It’s almost as though the intent is to get as close to a “generic Christian” as possible, requiring what they think are the “essentials”, so “Christian disciples” can all “get along”. The Vatican II document on ecumenism warns us against “false irenicism”:

Vatican II, in its Decree on Ecumenism §11 taught: “It is altogether necessary that full doctrine be lucidly explained. Nothing is so foreign to true ecumenism as that false irenicism in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers detriment, and its true and certain sense is obscured.”


That’s very sad. I think devotion to Our Lady is central to revitalizing parish life.


These words do not contradict

One can honor Mary, observe the Holy Days of Obligation like the Assumption, use honorific titles. Accepting the dogmas is required.

The devotion of the Rosary can be the “epitome of the whole Gospel” and still not be required.

Marian devotion is not zero sum.


You hear no contradiction between “All that is required of any faithful Catholic is belief in the Marian Dogmas

and " The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."?

Belief of truths about her - but no devotion to or deep love for her?

Devotion is intrinsic to Christian worship, but not required?


This points one general issue I had with the book: it seems to prioritize explicit experiences and expressions of a personal relationship with Jesus, in opposition to piety. I get the point, that piety is not enough for a Christian, but:
the two are not opposed to one another, and the book seemed to somewhat marginalize piety.
I’m sure that’s not the intention of the book, but that’s the way it came off for me. There are many quiet and devoted Catholics who are not comfortable talking publicly about Jesus and their experiences. And that’s ok. Everyone is gifted in a different way.


Dear “Little Lady”,

I’m sorry that you did not find Sherry Weddell’ comment, which fide posted, contradictory to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 971 which states that “…the Church’s devotion to Mary is intrinsic to Christian worship…” The Catechism puts the word intrinsic in italics to emphasize it. The word is very significant. “Intrinsic” by definition indicates something is essential!

Today is the Feast of St. Bernard who wrote: “De Maria, numquam satis” ( English translation from the original Latin is: “Of Mary, there is never enough”). I would also quote the following words from St. John Paul II, given in an address, Oct. 30 1982:

… For its birth and growth, apostolic work looks to her who gave birth to Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Where the Mother is, there too is the Son. When one moves away from the Mother, sooner or later he ends up keeping distant from the Son as well. It is no wonder that today, in various sectors of secularised society, we note a widespread crisis of faith in God, preceded by a drop in devotion to the Virgin Mother…

I see not only a “contradiction” in Sherry Weddel’s respnse to fide but a very “distant” and rather cold and legalistic sounding attitude, an attitude toward the Mother whom Jesus gave to us from His Cross. He said to the Beloved Disciple John:

Behold your Mother

John obediently took Mary into his home and into his life. The Saints have shone beautiful witness in their devotion to our Mother and Model. I hope readers on this Forum will be very careful in reading what Sherry Weddell wrote. I began to read her book some months ago but could not get too far into it. I did not experience the full Truth we need. The Catholic Church today is in crisis and we need the example and intercession of Mary Whom God has given to us in such a special way.


Indeed - the Catechism has this:

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.<Cf. Isa 11:1-2> They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

We are called to holiness, and the perfection of charity. Not “merely” (if I can say it this way), as some evangelicals like to say, “getting saved.”


We’ve been using Study Guide and I’ve incorporated the study questions into my PowerPoints. They’re really helpful in prompting the members into serious thought about the reality of our own parish and what we can do help.

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