Meghan Cokeley

In the Summer of 2020, Archbishop  Pérez tasked the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization with creating a Commission for Missionary Disciples (  It was to be comprised of diverse representatives from throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who are engaging in the Church’s primary mission of evangelization. Following its formation, the Commission undertook a year of prayer, discernment, and research to determine how the Lord Jesus was calling us to “create a culture of missionary disciples,” according to the Archbishop’s mandate.

One fruit that emerged from our discernment was the creation of a training course to help Catholics go deeper in their personal friendship with Jesus and to equip them with the practical skills they need for outreach to those who do not yet know the Lord’s love. This course is now known as the Schools of Missionary Discipleship ( It is available in English and Spanish.

In the first part of the course, the School of Discipleship, participants are invited to deepen their personal friendship with Christ, learn how to strengthen their prayer life through Lectio Divina, Eucharistic holy hours, and the contemplative praying of the Rosary as well as joining one’s sufferings with the Cross of Jesus. The second part of the course, the School of Mission, builds upon this foundation and teaches participants practical skills for missionary work. It seeks to respond to the question on the hearts of many Catholics, “How do I help my loved ones come back to the Church?” Participants learn how to win souls for Christ through intentional accompaniment. They learn skills like making invitations, proactive listening, praying spontaneously with someone, sharing personal faith stories, and sharing the Gospel.

The course is designed to be fun, prayerful, and extremely practical.  Each session is  three hours long to allow for short teachings, opportunity to practice what is being learned, small group discussion, and time for quiet reflection. Listen to the feedback of some of our participants:

“Like many people I know, I have a number of friends and family members who have left the church.  I wanted to be able to reach out to them and lead them back to a relationship with God.  This course helped me understand how to be alert to openings, gave me the courage to speak to others about God, and the tools to accompany them on their journey.  I was able to practice these skills in a safe environment which gave me the confidence to speak openly about God when I perceive an opening.  I have since been amazed at the Holy Spirit at work – contrary to my initial perceptions, so many people are really hungry to hear about God and how they can draw closer to Him.”  -Anne Marie O’Connell, Parishioner, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doylestown

“The School of Missionary Discipleship gave me the confidence to ask others to pray with me and to lead prayer…anytime, anywhere.  SMD gave me an opportunity to deeply reflect on my faith journey and tools to help me walk with someone else on theirs.”   -Theresa Smith, Volunteer Leader, St. Charles Borromeo, Drexel Hill

“It’s really hard to put into words how much this program has helped me, not just as a Catholic, but as a parish staff member. There are so many wonderful programs and resources out there and it can be overwhelming. But having this in-person group led by experienced and relatable speakers is way more impactful. The exercises we did with other group members were practical and memorable. I often think about and use the skills I’ve learned in many situations in parish-life as well as with family and friends. Every session felt like a personal mini-retreat; we first deepened our own faith and then learned how to share it with the world!” –Amy Grace, Coordinator of Women’s Ministry, Nativity BVM, Media

Registration is now open for the next cohort of the Schools of Missionary Discipleship. Sessions in English will take place on 10 Wednesdays 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. beginning September 18 at Epiphany of Our Lord Parish in Plymouth Meeting. For full details, view the flyer or visit the website

Questions may be directed to Meghan Cokeley at  For details about the course in Spanish, please contact Paola Herrera, Associate Director of the Office for the New Evangelization, at


Meghan Cokeley is the Director of the Office for the New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.