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“Be Formed” Introduces a Discipleship Experience to Help Grow Missionary Disciples

As a participant in Exodus 90 (https://exodus90.com/), a 90-day spiritual exercise for men based on three pillars (prayer, asceticism, and fraternity), and having helped to develop Fiat 90, a similar group for women, Father Burke Masters knows the value of groups of people bonding together in small Christian communities with the goal of growing spiritually as disciples.

“We have heard some great testimonies from people who have done Exodus 90 and Fiat 90, but, as we discerned this next year in light of the pandemic, we felt that our people might need something different, something more flexible that will meet people where they are,” said Father Masters, the diocesan secretary for Christian Formation. “If someone wants to do Exodus 90, we encourage them to do so. We have a very good working relationship with the founders of Exodus 90.”

As the former diocesan vocations director, he has a deep understanding about what’s involved in spiritually forming people, which is why, two years ago, he was asked by Bishop Emeritus R. Daniel Conlon to use what he learned forming seminarians and bring it to the lay faithful.

And that is how “Be Formed: A 90-day Discipleship Experience” was born. Father Masters teamed with two diocesan leaders, Katie Choudhary and Rick Erwin (members of the Adult Formation Team), and a few others to come up with the idea for Be Formed. The men have worked with Jeff Cavins, a Catholic author and speaker, to develop part of the formation plan. The women are working with a book entitled MISERICORDIA // Blessed Conversation published by Blessed Is She, a woman’s ministry that fosters community and prayer among women.

With some elements similar to Exodus 90 and Fiat 90, such as having an accountability partner and small groups, Be Formed began in early January 2021 and will continue until April 4, 2021, which is Easter Sunday. Over 400 women and over 200 men are participating in this inaugural run. Its goals are for participants “to take steps toward becoming a better disciple of Jesus, to form Christian community, and to gain courage and learn how to share your faith.”

“We are using the four pillars of formation – human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral – as the foundation for this 90-day experience,” Father Masters said. “We developed a commitment card, which has a menu of options in each of the pillars of formation. To begin, the men and women chose one or two things from the commitment card that they wanted to focus on to help them conform their lives to Christ. Only they and their accountability partner see their commitments. They have been checking in with their accountability partner each day, even if it’s a quick text. Weekly small groups meet to discuss the material for that week.”

Here are the four pillars of formation that the participants have been engaging in:

  • Human: sleep, diet, exercise
  • Spiritual: prayer, Scripture, sacraments
  • Intellectual: reading/listening to good things to strengthen your faith
  • Pastoral: sharing your gifts and faith with others

The accountability partners share about how they have encountered Jesus in their lives that day, as well as making sure the commitments that each person has promised are being followed.

The experience is being conducted virtually and also includes the men interacting with Jeff Cavins, the author of The Activated Disciple: Taking Your Faith to the Next Level. Cavins offers a weekly talk live from Minnesota, and then the small groups meet virtually to discuss his presentation.

Female participants have been walking through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They also meet in small groups weekly after reading about saints, blesseds and other holy people who have lived or are living the works of mercy.

Father Masters hopes that this type of experience is not just a 90-day experience, but can become a life-long journey of discipleship. They hope to begin a second round of Be Formed soon after this first round ends.

To find out more, and to be put on a waiting list for the next time Be Formed will occur, send an email to prayjoliet@gmail.com.