Called and Gifted: regular and ordinary


By Marlene Lunardi

Seriously, when they announced at church that they were offering another “Called and Gifted” program, my first thoughts were not “Oh, I wanna do that!” The name just seemed a little too high intensity to me.

I’m more of a regular and ordinary person. OK, I am involved at church and in my community. I’m not a totally lazy person, but Called and Gifted seemed a bit intimidating to me. Turns out, it’s actually for the regular and ordinary person!

Called and Gifted is not as lofty as it sounds; it’s just trying to figure out how you’re gifted by God. Maybe that phrase doesn’t sound like something for a regular and ordinary person. So, what if we rephrase it to “how you are naturally inclined.” That sounds more regular and ordinary.


Long, long ago, when I was in middle school, we’d have to take art, music, shop class (do they still do that?) each quarter to see what we might like; or maybe we tried various team sports growing up to find out what we liked and might be good at in high school. Called and Gifted is like that, helping you to figure out what “gifts” you already have so you can use them.

I had been told by a few people “Oh, you should go to Called and Gifted.” I finally did because 1.) I am now an empty-nester and have no more excuses and 2.) I viewed this program to be like eating broccoli — not really my favorite food, but it’s good for you. I hoped that I could find some “cheese” to put on it, to make it more palatable.

The “cheese” turned out to be all of the other people going to this class. That’s part of what made this class a great experience — meeting and talking with people who were also trying to figure out their inclinations. I was surprised to learn how many people in the class were taking it a second or third time. They got so much out of it the first time that they wanted to do it again to get more. This opportunity to learn about myself with others was supportive and helpful.

Now, I didn’t say it was all fun all of the time. It’s like school; there’s some work and time commitment, but it’s worth it. Think about why you finished high school, why you furthered your education or took professional training. You knew that in the long run it would pay off; it would help you to be a better person, have a better life, be the best you can be. This is exactly what Called and Gifted does for you: it helps you to be a better person, live a better life and be the best that God says you can be.

I learned of more than 20 different “charisms” or gifts that people may have been blessed with. One of my strongest gifts is mercy. My natural instinct is to help someone I see in need; it’s the little nudge that says I should ask if I can help. We all get those little nudges, that stray thought that pops into your head and you try to talk yourself out of. Maybe your nudge is whether to help with a project or donate something or send a note to someone who might need encouragement. It’s easy not to act and to think, who am I to get involved? Someone else will step up. Or, what if I offend someone?

Now I know that nudge, that stray thought is something I need to follow up on. I know I received that nudge for a reason. I take the next step. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t, but I know I’m supposed to try. That’s how Called and Gifted has helped me, taking away the guesswork.
Consider my story a nudge from the Holy Spirit that you’re supposed to go to Called and Gifted. Don’t let the name intimidate you. If you think of yourself as regular and ordinary, this class is for you.

(Marlene Lunardi is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.)

Participate in Called and Gifted

The next session of Called and Gifted will begin at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf on Sept. 9 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will continue for the next four Monday nights, Sept. 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7. After these first five classes, participants will have a personal interview to help decide which charism they would like to explore. Classes will resume Oct. 21, Nov. 4 and 18, Dec. 2, and conclude Dec. 9. Cost for the 10-week program is $40. For more information please contact Maureen Conrad: (563) 940-5921 or

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