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Transforming Parishioners into Lay Apostles


St. Dominic Catholic Church
San Francisco, CA
Archdiocese of San Francisco
United States

More Info

For more information, email Scott Moyer.

Category: Faith Formation

Called and Gifted Seminars provide lay parishioners with a substantial, practical, and motivational understanding of authentic lay spirituality and apostolate.

"This workshop has literally changed the way I see my priesthood. This workshop articulates the Vatican II challenge to see each lay Catholic as an apostle called and sent by Christ himself. This workshop has become a gift to my ministry." -Fr. Xavier Lavagetto, Archdiocese of San Francisco

The need it meets

Many parishioners feel a sincere desire to live their faith more dynamically, but simply don't know how to channel that desire beyond becoming an usher or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. In a practical and motivational way, the Seminar broadens participants' conception of what it means to be an active Catholic.

Where it came from

Called and Gifted Seminars are provided by the Catherine of Siena Institute (, a program of the Western Dominican Province. Through innovative programs, resources, and leadership training faithful to Church teaching, the Seminars motivate parishioners to become more dynamic Catholics. 30,000 Catholics in 85 dioceses on 5 continents have gone through the introductory workshop.

How it works

Called & Gifted Workshops teach the following:

  • The role of every Catholic and every parish in the mission of the Church.
  • The critical role of personal charisms in the lives of lay Catholics and the parish.
  • The signs and characteristics of 24 common charisms.
  • How discerning and using one's charism can change lives, parishes, and the world.

To host an introductory Called & Gifted Workshop the Siena Institute provides:

  • Instructors (2-5) and all content;
  • Spiritual Gift Inventories and originals for duplicating information packets for each person;
  • Advertising materials (posters, brochures, bulletin inserts); and
  • A book table displaying recommended resources.

The parish provides:

  • Two days, usually a Friday night from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • A minimum of 40 participants (they do not need to all come from your parish or organization). The only limit to the number who can attend is the size of the room in which the workshop is held.
  • A room large enough to accommodate all the participants and equipped with projector screen, digital projector and an adequate sound system
  • Tables and chairs for participants
  • A table for registration and packets
  • 2 tables for recommended books and supplementary hand-outs
  • Hospitality: coffee, tea, snacks, name tags, etc.
  • Local advertising within your parish or organization
  • Travel costs and overnight accommodations for the instructors

The results

St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco has been providing these workshops since 1999, once or twice a year. They average 60 attendees, limited by the size of their parish hall.

  • Attendees consistently become more involved in the parish and more committed to bearing witness through their life and work outside the parish.
  • Consistent postive verbal feedfback.
  • The pastor, Fr. Xavier Lavagetto OP, considers this a cornerstone program of his parish.

"It was wonderful to discover the gifts God had given me, but it was even more powerful to begin to be able to recognize the gifts God had given to others. Imagine the blessing in being able to say to someone, 'Here is how I experience God's love through you.'" -Maria Vickroy-Peralta

"After the workshop ended, I realized that my weekend experience was like the first time I wore contact lenses. I had never known the intensity of colors, the subtleties of light and shadow, the distinctness of edges, or the depth and beauty of what I saw. And now I was seeing my spiritual journey through 'new lenses'." -Francene Stonebraker, St. Dominic's Parishioner, Attendee at the 1999 workshop

"Our goal is not to get people more involved in the parish (although this happens naturally); it is to help lay Catholics assume their full role in the Church and in the world (as laid out by Vatican II and Pope John Paul’s Christifideles Laici). The Called and Gifted Workshop does this better than anything else we’ve found." -Scott Moyer, Director of Adult Faith Formation, St. Dominic Catholic Church, San Francisco

Key elements

  • Good marketing.
  • Hospitality (welcome and snacks).
  • Siena-trained teachers.
  • Standard schedule of Friday night (7-9:30) and Saturday day (9:30-4).

St. Dominic's has had greatest success with offering these workshops several times of year- May/June, January/February, and October/November.

How to implement it

St. Dominic's had Catherine of Siena Institute presenters at the first 2 or 3 workshops. Since then, they have had their own teaching team.

By having their own teaching team St. Dominic's avoids the added cost of travel expenses for Siena presenters. They collect a free will offering with a suggested donation of $50. All of their marketing material mentions the $50 suggested donation. They usually have no problem covering the costs of the workshop, and are happy to provide it for free to anyone who cannot make the donation.

Fr. Xavier Lavagetto, O.P. is pastor of St. Dominic Catholic Church.

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