From ‘spiritual couch potato’ to ‘Catholic endurance athlete,’ archdiocese’s evangelization team invites all to try Scripture on for size

DETROIT — In a typical year, New Year’s resolutions might be broken by the end of January: gym memberships abandoned, diets forgotten and a list of household chores stacked to the ceiling. 

In 2020, any resolutions that survived the first two months surely faced an incredible test come mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic upended any sense of normalcy. 

In 2021, however, Catholics can make a resolution that lasts, no matter what the world brings, says Fr. Stephen Pullis, director of evangelization and missionary discipleship for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Starting in the new year, Fr. Pullis and his team are encouraging Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit to take up two “Grow Year” challenges: to read the Bible and to join a small faith group. 

The idea of a “Grow Year” comes from the archdiocese’s threefold “Encounter, Grow, Witness” paradigm for evangelization, Fr. Pullis says. 

“After a year of ‘encounter,’ we’ve committed to making 2021 a year focused on the second step: ‘Grow,’” Fr. Pullis wrote in a column recently published in Detroit Catholic

The first part of the challenge, to read the Bible in 2021, can be done through the Church’s new “Run So as to Win the Race” Scripture Challenge, Fr. Pullis said. 

The challenge is set up in such a way that no one should feel overwhelmed by the prospect of reading the entire Scriptures, but can join a “guild” appropriate to one’s comfort and commitment level. 

“Whether you are a spiritual couch potato or a Catholic endurance athlete, there is a running team (which we’re calling “guilds”) you can join,” Fr. Pullis said. “You can join the ‘Blessed Stanley Rother Guild’ and commit to reading all four Gospels this year. If you are up for more of a challenge, join the ‘St. Josephine Bakhita Guild’ or the ‘Blessed Solanus Casey Guild’ and read the whole New Testament this year.”

The “guilds” are roughly structured on the running theme — the Blessed Rother Guild, for instance, is a “10K,” while the Blessed Solanus Guild is a “triathlon” — but physical exercise is optional, Fr. Pullis insists. 

At the shallow end of the pool is the “5K” Holy Family Guild, in which Catholics can commit to praying the Sunday readings together with the help of a guide such as 52 Sundays. On the deep end, those who join the “Ironman Challenge” St. John Paul II Guild will commit to reading the entire Bible in a year, making a monthly confession, joining a small group and praying a daily rosary. 

“Invite your family and friends, coworkers and social media contacts to join you in this challenge,” Fr. Pullis said. “It’s an easy way to fulfill the call from our archdiocesan Synod ’16 to make the regular reading of the Word of God part of our lives.”

The second part of the 2021 challenge encourages Catholics to join a small faith group, whether in person or online, Fr. Pullis said.

To find a group to join, the Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship Department has set up a “Connected in Christ” forum, which can connect Catholics geographically or via online platforms. 

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need community,” Fr. Pullis said. “We are not meant to be isolated and kept apart from others.”

Small groups can help Catholics reinforce their faith through Scripture study, sharing testomonials and building holy friendships — all of which can help Catholics grow in their faith in 2021, Fr. Pullis said.

‘Run So as to Win the Race’ Scripture Challenge

To join the ‘Run So as to Win the Race’ Scripture Challenge or to find or start a small group, visit https://www.unleashthegospel.org/scripture-challenge/ or https://www.unleashthegospel.org/small-groups/..