August 1, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

This video still shows Bishop William F. Medley in his introductory video for the video portion of the Acts 2:42 small group series, which launches in September. SCREENSHOT

‘Happening in our own hearts’

Acts 2:42 Small Groups to foster greater connections among parishioners

BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC

This fall, across the Diocese of Owensboro, parish-based small groups will begin a series of meetings in order to “help people see what it means to receive and live the Eucharist” according to the diocese’s evangelization and discipleship director.

The initiative, called Acts 2:42 Small Groups, references the scripture passage in which the early Christians “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”

Dr. Andrini, who directs the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship, said these sessions are a key part of the diocese observing the Year of Parish Revival, which is year two of the National Eucharistic Revival.

“The idea is that the Revival is not just an idea out there – it’s something happening in our own hearts,” he said.

The two-hour sessions are designed to take place in people’s homes once a month. The sessions include prayer, reading scripture excerpts and passages from various documents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, discussion time, and prerecorded video reflections available in both English and Spanish. The sessions will meet from September 2023 to May 2024.

The video reflections for English-speaking small groups will be given by Bishop William F. Medley, and the video reflections for Spanish-speaking small groups will be given by Deacon Chris Gutiérrez – the diocese’s director of Hispanic/Latino ministry – and by several Hispanic/Latino ministers from across western Kentucky.

This video still shows Deacon Chris Gutiérrez in his introductory video for the video portion of the Acts 2:42 small group series, which launches in September. SCREENSHOT

Currently, 34 primarily English-speaking parishes are signed up to participate in the initiative, and eight to 10 parishes with Hispanic/Latino ministry are signed up to participate. Dr. Andrini estimated that the small groups will consist of about eight to 12 people per group.

He said the small group hosts undergo training so they can adequately lead their fellow participants. Deacon Gutiérrez said he has been inspired by working with many of the hosts.

“After going around our the diocese to train Hispanic parish coordinators of Acts 2:42, I perceived a renewed  enthusiasm and excitement about gathering in homes to reflect, pray and share on the beauty and gift of the Eucharist,” he said.

Dr. Andrini said one of the goals of his office has been to establish small groups out of every parish in the diocese, so he looks forward to this opportunity for the faithful.

“Small groups help people feel connected to the community,” he said, adding that after the pandemic, “people are lonelier than ever” – and seek more connections with others.

“What does every adult Catholic need and in most cases want?” he asked. “Love, belonging, meaning, a growing relationship with God and others… this is why small groups are so important for parish life today!”

Bishop Medley said his hope is that the 78 parishes will “embrace this opportunity” to “invite the faithful to join together to explore the place of the Holy Eucharist in our lives.”

“This engagement can be a firm building block for the three-year National Eucharistic Revival,” he said.

Dr. Andrini said that if someone’s parish is not currently participating in the initiative, that they are welcome to reach out to him directly for materials to lead their own small group within their family. He can be reached at [email protected].


Originally printed in the August 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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