You have been given charisms: what does that mean?


By Sheila Zack

Would you be surprised to learn that you have been given charisms? According to Catholic teaching, it is the faith of the church that you possess one or more of the charisms.

So, what ARE charisms anyway? As stated by The Catherine of Siena Institute, “Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to give them power both to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness for people. They are given to us to benefit other people and are one of the ways God continues to enter the world through our agreement and cooperation.”

God is calling each of us to a work of love that will fill our lives with purpose and joy. Discerning our charisms can help us discover that call. It can help us answer the question, “What does God want me to do?”


Taking the Called and Gifted class has been an excellent way to understand and begin to discern my charisms. In the class we learned about 24 of the most common charisms. We were given examples of how they work in other people’s daily lives. We completed a spiritual gifts inventory and helped to identify patterns of giftedness already apparent in our lives. We each chose a charism to discern and through experimenting and small group discussions we looked for evidence of how God works through each of us to serve others.

At first, I attempted to ignore the charism I ended up working on. I thought everyone did the things which come naturally to me. I was looking for something really big or exciting. I was discounting the little day to day experiences in my life. I learned that when you are using your charism it’s energizing and life-giving. You feel complete in what you’re doing, as if you’ve found just where you fit. You know what to do, without even realizing it and flow with the situation until you realize something good has happened. You have an unmistakable inner experience of peace, energy and joy when you’re using your gift. That made me take a second look at my regular encounters with others.

I discovered I have the gift of encouragement. I find myself looking for something uplifting or motivating to say to people who I meet. It can be as simple as telling someone they have a beautiful smile or commenting on a child’s good behavior after Mass. Once I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to tell a single mom that I think she’s very brave and should be proud of herself. She burst into tears, grabbed my hands and told me that I had no idea how much she needed to hear that!

It brings me so much joy to be able to use my charism to have a positive impact on others! Things don’t always go the way I had planned or hoped would happen, but I have shared in some pretty amazing experiences while bringing God’s love to others.

When we know our gifts and find out why we’re here and what God wants us to do, we can do incredible things for others and bring Christ further into the world. What a spectacular feeling!

If this sounds exciting or intriguing, I encourage you to take the Called and Gifted class being offered this fall at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf.

“May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.” St. Teresa of Avila

(Sheila Zack is a member of St. John Vianney Parish, 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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