Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5: 17-19


1.      Father Bill talks about “intentional discipleship,” and the importance of choosing to be an evangelizer.

a.      Consider your role as preacher. What are the active conscious things you are doing on a regular basis to serve as an evangelizer?

b.      Consider your role as liturgist. What might be some new ways to incorporate practices that amplify this “evangelizing” spirit?

c.       Consider your role as consecrated shepherd. How do you empower lay people in your parish to see themselves as intentional disciplines participating in the church’s mission of evangelization?

 2.      Father Bill recounts his experiences working in prisons. He recognized his charism as an “activist,” at a young age. He uses his prison experiences to create community with parishioners.

a.      Are there experiences you can more fully tap into to better serve God’s people?

b.      How might your charisms be used in new ways to Build God’s Kingdom?

 3.      Father Mike calls out Father Bill as a storyteller who is an active preacher that can’t be ignored.

 Father Bill responded to Father Mike with two examples. Father Bill is welcoming of children. He does not to compete with their cries. He also uses a ringing cell phone as an opportunity to evangelize by answering a parishioner’s phone explaining to the caller, “She’s in church right now praying for you, but you can call back later.”  

Think about your unique style as a storyteller and active preacher…

a.      How do you command the attention of your listeners?

b.      Can you recall times when you did something unexpected that had the effect of grabbing people’s attention?

 4.      Father Mike asks Father Bill about his 25 years in prisons. Father Mike inquires how Father Bill encourages inmates to believe in their self-worth and God’s love. This is a challenge for any preacher.

a.      As a pastoral shepherd and preacher what are you doing to help people believe in their self-worth

b.      What things are you doing to help people encounter God’s love for them?

 5.      Father Bill read his story about praying with convicted killer James Applebaum.  At James’ request Father Bill shared a final meal with him, escorted him to the gas chamber and prayed with him.

 Father Bill recounts how he was guided by the Holy Spirit to find a fitting piece of scripture.

a.      Reflect about a time when you were faced with a challenging situation – someone seeking your pastoral help and you were guided by the Holy Spirit to find a fitting piece of scripture.

b.      Can you imagine invoking the Holy Spirit to be more deliberate in consistently bringing the lens and mirror of other scriptures to shine light on the readings in your homilies?

 6.      Father Bill’s homily is a wonderful synergy of three clear themes reflected in the interview:

 1). Being intentional disciples,
2). encountering God’s love for us in our lives and,
3). living with joyfully with the mystery.

a.      How does Father Bill use stories to animate these themes?

b.      How did his stories hit you?

c.       What stories did you find rising in you as you listened to Father Bill?

d.      How does Father Bill build a bridge between his stories and the Eucharist?

e.      How does Father Bill use conversational techniques in his stories to draw listeners in?

f.        Why does Father Bill ask people to kneel at the end of the homily?

 7.      Father Bill’s homily employed three devices:

·         Bridging stories to one another
·         Conversational delivery techniques
·         Ritual (kneeling at the end of the sermon)

How can you incorporate any or all of these techniques into your next homily?

Some Final Thoughts…

Stories engage and invite sense making with others. We are not prescribing meaning with stories. Nor are we seeking compliance of understanding. We are seeking the commitments of people’s hearts.

At their core stories are about meaning. It’s impossible to separate sense making from sense giving. We entwine fragments of our understanding of the world in stories. These stories inhabit our conscious and unconscious awareness. The control afforded to us by stories in the form of fueling our understanding is at best a doorway or a handle to opening a door for someone else. We offer our sense making to others in the form of stories – sense giving. For us it’s seamless; we experience this cycle of sense giving and sense making as one act of creation. As good story-based communicators we must fight our natural tendency to forget that others are responsible for their sense making.


Gracious Father, Ever Present Spirit of Love, Jesus our King teach us how to be intentional disciples. Be pleased to manifest your eternal Wisdom and Light through our work. Grant us stories, scriptures, and any devices that proceeding from your Holy Will offer people an opportunity to realize how much you love us. Help us to help others sit in a quiet and concrete space of mystery that draws us ever closer to you. May we find communion with You, and with each other through our participation in your infinite gift of life. We ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who lives and resigns with you now and forever. AMEN