Discernment at a Distance 

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

One of the blessings of the COVID-19 isolation is the elimination of extraneous distractions and the desire (and time!) to reconnect with old friends. The other day, I spoke with a friend from our last duty station. She struggled for many years with an important family decision. She said the COVID crisis quieted her life, led her to pray more, let her treasure her family time, and made her priorities clearer. She could more plainly hear God calling her in a specific direction, and she trusts He will provide. However, she admitted to me, “discernment is hard!”

I agree. Discernment is difficult and very personal. It is a process in which the Holy Spirit guides us and gives us the courage to act when the time is right. 

Last year, a friend recommended I discern for this Director of Faith Formation position. My initial reaction was very insistent: “NO! I am TOO BUSY for that!” 

However, I felt a persistent tug to consider serving MCCW in this way. I could not shake it. When I asked my husband about my discernment, HE was very insistent: “YES! That is a wonderful opportunity for you to share your gifts with MCCW!” 

Our local Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) boards are on the brink of transition during a very uncertain time. Our chapel group here at West Point has not met for three weeks. Although there is currently a stop movement on official travel, we all know that this military life will grind on, our chapel leaders will PCS, and new women need to step up and share their gifts and talents to enrich their chapel communities. Will you take a moment in this time of quiet waiting to discern how you can fill these essential roles?

At my chapel group, we planned to do our in-person board discernment in tandem with our faith study, which concerns prayer. One week was even centered around discernment: we were set! Now we can’t meet “until further notice.” It seems likely (and wise) that we should discern in a new way, remotely, before our summer break. How will we go about doing this?

Happily, MCCW has resources for you about this very topic, and we are PROS at “distance discernment.” While half of our board discerns in-person at our Faith Formation Forum, the other half uses a telephonic discernment process. We have discernment resources available on our website.

For current chapel leaders:

  • The Discernment Process: This document is your go-to guide for leading the discernment process in your chapel. It details the things you’ll need to do to prepare your chapel group for discernment, how to set up the process, and takes you step-by-step through the prayerful discernment method. These resources can be customized for discernment via teleconference or Zoom. 
  • Discernment Information Form: This form can be downloaded and edited for use by your chapel to collect information from women who may be interested in discerning a leadership role
  • Discernment Resource Packet: Prayers, lyrics and other tools your chapel can use during the group discernment process. Prayers can be read over a discernment teleconference and YouTube versions of the songs may be played. 

For individual discerners:

  • Beginning Personal Discernment: A straight-forward guide ready to lead women through the personal discernment process leading up to the group discernment which includes prayers and an assessment of spiritual gifts. If you’re thinking of stepping up to serve in your community, but you’re not sure where to start, check out this guide.

This time of isolation is challenging, but it also provides some space for us to reflect on our gifts, abilities, and desires. Take the opportunity to ponder, regroup, and consider how you can energize and enhance your chapel group moving forward.