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Fruits of Discernment | The Rooted & Free Implementation Committee

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Seeds take time to grow. In the summer and fall, we see the fruits from seeds planted in the spring, but some seeds take more time and care before we see results. The same is true in life– when growing a community, there are seeds of prayer that will only sprout and bear fruit after time and discernment. 


Early in 2022, 75 of our community members committed to 6 weeks of daily prayer and weekly formation on discernment practices. Then in March 2022, 33 of those community members gathered in person for our Rooted & Free Retreat. On the retreat, they were joined by priests and spiritual mentors to step into deeper prayer and discernment for the growth of Eden Invitation. The goal of the retreat wasn’t to come up with answers for every question, rather, it was to open ourselves to God and receive His will for this mission and community. By the end of the 4-day retreat, the notes from the prayer and discussion were distilled down into a series of questions for even further prayer and discernment– questions like “How can those who share our charisms but don’t live with an LGBTQ+ experience (like priests, family, friends, mentors) participate?” and “How do we form more layers of membership–to make space for those committed to the Church’s teaching as well as for those who are still wrestling with those questions?”


While so many of our members came together to plant the seeds, it would take a dedicated group to dig deeper into how God is calling us to grow. Along with our co-founders, Anna Carter and Shannon Ochoa, 7 of the 33 on the retreat were nominated by community members to form the Rooted & Free Implementation Committee. 

The implementation of their recommendations will be an ongoing process of prayer and discernment. Three of the committee members– Kristen, Ana Laura, and Andrew– are here to give a closer look at what that process was like and some of the fruits. 

“[For the past year] we met every other week on Zoom for 1.5 - 2 hours.” Kristen shared. To prepare for each meeting, “We spent time in prayer outside of meetings and also worked with other committee members to refine resonances from the Rooted & Free retreat, to research other communities, or to provide feedback on materials created by the founders and the committee.” 


The one fruit of this process was the growth in mutual belonging, both within the committee and within the broader Eden Invitation community. Kristen continued, “I am so proud of and impressed by the commitment of the committee, and the ways we made space for each other to show up as we were all year long.” 


Life never stops, and each committee member expressed gratitude for the support they received for their whole person amidst this process. Ana Laura shared a litany of life events from the past year– these people aren’t just committee members, they are parents welcoming new children or raising teenagers, people moving to new cities, and friends who lost a loved one unexpectedly. Still, each person came to these meetings with their hearts open to God’s will and to give and receive encouragement in community. “They have been great witnesses of the action of God in our hearts!” Ana Laura said. “ We are doing this mission together, united like a family!”


Ana Laura was the Community Correspondent for the committee, so every few months, she communicated the most recent progress to the wider Eden Invitation community online. From there, all 300+ committed community members had opportunities to ask questions and give feedback the committee could also pray with. “It is a delight to see how each person brings their own gifts to the table, and that way the work is easier and more beautiful than before when doing it just by yourself.”


Andrew, who has leadership experience in church and municipal spaces, shared, “Working on this committee has been a unique experience because the entire process and the outcomes were Spirit led with almost no preconceptions…I have not had a previous experience of such openness in committee work…I am so proud of our committee, for committing to this long and unpredictable journey together, and the result is truly a group discovered awareness of how God is manifesting in our lives.”


The image of the garden is frequently used in scripture. God truly is the Good Gardener and has planned things to bring fruit at the proper times. As disciples, particularly serving in this mission, Ana Laura explained that  “Doing this work is like preparing the ‘ground’. It’s like preparing the heart of each one of the members of the community, so it can be ‘fertile land’ for the fruits– God’s graces–that the new people who will come [to Eden Invitation] are going to need. Because we are not looking at our own needs here, but we are looking for God’s heart! He only knows what's better and the way this movement will continue to give life.” 


We are deeply grateful for all the time and effort the Rooted & Free Implementation Committee has done in the past year to tend to this community and mission. The Eden Invitation community needs continual prayer and discernment to know what God has in store for us next. At the same time, we are happy to celebrate the fruits God has brought to ripeness in this season!

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