Live Lent Together helps participants deepen their relationship with Christ while building community
January 11, 2022
For the past three years, parishes in the Omaha archdiocese have been helping members deepen their relationship with Jesus through small group faith sharing, prayer and Scripture study. Last year, those efforts expanded as more than a dozen parishes began Live Lent Together, a six-week journey of prayer and conversion.
This year, the archdiocese is encouraging all parishes to establish Live Lent Together small groups to pray together with Scripture and, ultimately, help members get closer to Christ and feel less alone in an increasingly disconnected world.
“We all need relationships where we are known, loved and personally encouraged to live as faithful disciples of Jesus,” said Andrew Dejka of the Archdiocese of Omaha Parish Support Team. “Whether you are part of a small rural parish or a larger urban parish, Live Lent Together helps you create the small group context where those relationships happen.”
Small group leaders are encouraged to cast a wide net when inviting people to meet and break open God’s Word as part of Live Lent Together. Participants don’t have to belong to the same parish. They don’t even have to be Catholic. The only requirement is that they are open to a deeper encounter with Jesus.
“It is helping bring God into the community, not just into our church,” said Cheryl Drozd of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus. “It is being the kind of people who go out and share with others.”
For those who aren’t sure who to invite into their small group, Drozd suggests praying for guidance. It could be a neighbor who needs to get out more. Or a family member who is going through some personal struggles.
“When you ask, God brings them in your door,” Drozd said.
Last year, parish support team member Calvin Mueller asked Drozd to help organize Live Lent Together at St. Isidore. He also cautioned her not to go it alone.
“Calvin said, ‘I want you to find one person to go along with you,’” Drozd said. “It was a ‘two-by-two they went out,’ sort of thing. The very first person who came to my heart was Kelli.”
Kelli Faltys is a neighbor and friend of Drozd. She also is a parishioner at St. Isidore. Faltys was concerned she was too busy to help but agreed to do it anyway. At Live Lent Together training, the women received all the materials needed to help others embark on their journeys of prayer and conversion. By the time training was finished, Faltys’ stress and worry about not having enough time faded away.
“We were like giddy after training,” Drozd said. “We had so much fun doing it. We could go on the road and do this all the time.”
Drozd and Faltys are proud that several of the parish’s original Live Lent Together small groups still meet regularly.
“They didn’t just do Lent and be done,” Drozd said. “Most all of them continued.”
The fact that so many small groups continued to gather together after Lent was over comes as no surprise to Jim Jansen, director of pastoral services for the archdiocese.
“Live Lent Together is no ordinary small group experience,” Jansen said. “When we gather together around the Word of God, suddenly the Lord becomes the real group facilitator. He really brings us together beyond what we could ever do for ourselves.”
As the contact person for Live Lent Together at St. Isidore, Drozd gets calls from people who want to join or lead a group. Last year, a woman from a nearby assisted living facility called Drozd about joining a group. After talking with her, Drozd encouraged the woman to lead a group instead of joining one. Drozd went to the assisted living facility to train the woman and a few of her friends.
“A lot of them are 80, and they have never been in their Bible,” Drozd said. “Someone who never thought about leading a group, God put it on her heart, and it was very successful. Nobody has to leave the assisted living facility. They have the joy of holding it right there.”
The women hope to get more people involved in Live Lent Together this year. Faltys hopes more couples will participate.
“So many times, you’re doing things, and your spouse isn’t part of it,” Faltys said. “My goal for 2022 is to have more husbands and wives. And men. Men bring such wisdom.”
Drozd believes many people are hesitant to lead a small group because they think they need to know the Bible inside and out and answer questions about Scripture. But that isn’t the case.
“Live Lent Together is not about teaching others,” Drozd said. “It’s about reading the Bible together and sharing what God is putting on your heart and looking at the fruit of how God puts something different on the heart of everyone around the table.”
How Can You Live Lent Together?
Every Live Lent Together small group is another opportunity for more people to have a life-changing encounter with Jesus.
The archdiocese’s parish support team is helping every parish roll out Live Lent Together and provides small groups with the necessary resources.
Those interested in becoming small group leaders are invited to attend one of the many training sessions held across the Archdiocese of Omaha in the coming weeks. All sessions run from 6-8:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Upcoming dates and locations are:
- Jan. 27 at St. Stephen the Martyr Parish, Omaha
- Jan. 31 at St. Ludger Parish, Creighton
- Jan. 31 at St. Gerald Parish, Ralston
- Jan. 31 at St. Patrick Parish, O’Neill
- Feb. 1 at El Centro Pastoral Tepeyac Center, Omaha (Hispanic)
- Feb. 2 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Gretna
- Feb. 3 at St. Bonaventure Parish, Columbus, 7-9 p.m.
- Feb. 5 on Zoom from 9-11 a.m.
- Feb. 7 at Sacred Heart Parish, Norfolk
- Feb. 10 at Holy Trinity Parish, Hartington
To register for training or for more information, visit archomaha.org/lent.