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Reach more people with small faith-sharing groups

An increasing number of parishioners are seeking fellowship and engaging in religious studies through small groups. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church has responded to this demand with a new program: Reach More.

A Wisconsin-based organization called The Evangelical Catholic developed Reach More as a mission process to reach people in their communities.

Larry Laughlin, a member of the parish, was one of six point persons who played a pivotal role in launching this grassroots evangelism effort in 2023 at St. Francis with the approval of Father Joseph Pins, the pastor, and Katie Patrizio, the director of Faith Formation.

Subsequently, the point persons began discerning its first formation group of adults.

The core team carefully discerned who should be selected for the inaugural formation program. Eventually, they chose Training for the Reach More initiative 30 individuals, including some married couples, to spearhead this new endeavor. The individuals participated in a 12-week formation program to prepare them to go out and establish small group gatherings in their homes.

“We let God walk us through the process and who should be selected for the program,” Laughlin said.

One distinguishing feature of this program and other parish-led initiatives is that the small group leaders are given the autonomy to determine the format for the gatherings. The parish does not impose specific meeting times or require the use of a particular Catholic booklet. In essence, it’s led by parishioners but not specifically by parish staff.

“We want to build the leaders’ prayer lives, emphasizing Christ first so that they start their small groups. We’re going to recommend some resources to get the groups going,” Laughlin said. “We don’t tell them what they have to do. This is their apostolate.”


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