Greetings and welcome! So glad you could make your way over to my corner of the Internet. My name is Jessica Gapasin Dennis and I stepped down from full-time parish ministry in 2013 for a stint in stay-at-home-motherhood. This blog, Leaven in the World, is my small way of leaving the world a little better than I found it (in addition to raising 2 human beings, of course). I am passionate about all things God-/faith-/ministry-related, and so I’m hoping that my penchant for gathering resources and equipping people with the tools to fulfill God’s call on their lives will benefit at least one person out there.
As my for my street cred, I hold a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (liturgical ministry focus, Integrating Paper: “Liturgical Inculturation: A Reflection on the Filipino-American Context”) from the Washington Theological Union, undergraduate theology coursework through the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. I currently work as a freelance marketing assistant and web/graphic designer (you can see some of my work here).
I previously served as the Director of Christian Formation at a large 11,000-member Catholic parish in northern Virginia and have also had the pleasure of teaching Religion (Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus & Church, and Christian Morality) at a Catholic high school in Washington, DC. I’ve been volunteering with parishes since I was a teenager, and my adventures have included music ministry in northern California and the DC metro area and ministry to youth and young adults in northern California (Diocese of Sacramento).
To give you some insight into where I’m coming from with regards to all things related to faith formation, I’ve provided my philosophy here.
About the Blog
With the advent of the Internet, the amount of God/faith-related information out there can be downright overwhelming. The purpose of this blog is to help bring order to the tohuwabohu (i.e., chaos), so you can filter out all the noise and get to the good stuff (“good stuff” = resources that will help you grow in your faith in a healthy and life-giving way). I’m not here to re-invent the wheel, just here to point you in the right direction.
Leaven in the World is a blog for:
- anyone involved in catechetical ministry (directors of faith formation/religious education, teachers, parents, youth ministers, small group leaders, catechists, etc.)
- anyone looking for reputable, theologically rich and accessible resources for nourishing their faith life (and doesn’t want to personally spend time sifting through every single resource out there!).
Most of my posts will be round-ups of resources from major faith-based publishers. (While I do not limit my featured resources to those specifically written for a Catholic audience, I do make my selections from a Catholic perspective). I also regularly feature homilies and reflections from folks (both lay and ordained) with practical experience in full-time ministry, rooted in a solid theological education.
My hope is that the information provided on this blog will help nourish the faith life of everyday Catholics and empower lay leaders in their ministries — particularly those who may not have a formal background in theology or pastoral ministry– by taking the guesswork out of identifying accessible and reputable resources.
Why “Leaven in the World”?
The name of this blog finds inspiration from two sources. The first, from Scripture:
[Jesus] spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
– Matthew 13:33
The second source is Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, as referred to in Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry:
Lay men and women hear and answer the universal call to holiness primarily and uniquely in the secular realm. They are found “in each and every one of the world’s occupations and callings and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life which, as it were, form the context of their existence. There they are called by God to contribute to the sanctification of the world from within, like leaven, in the spirit of the Gospel, by fulfilling their own particular duties” (LG 31).
As lay men and women in the Catholic Church, we are called to use our gifts so that we might be leaven in the world. As stated in Co-Workers, “All of the baptized are called to work toward the transformation of the world.” May all of us, by virtue of our baptism, fully realize the call of God upon our lives so that we might fulfill Christ’s mission to bring about the healing and redemption of the world.