Fr. Bill’s Introductory Letter – the inspiration behind the initiative!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With the restrictions and constraints of this past season, our parish, like many others, has struggled to maintain a sense of connection and vision.

I feel inspired by the Holy Spirit to simplify our parish programs this fall and bring us together around a common focus, so that even when we are not all together in person we can share communion of heart and mind. In particular, I want to cultivate a deeper relationship with each of you and help you also cultivate that with one another. Most important, I want us all to come closer to Jesus and find our truest identity as his disciples.

Last spring, I was introduced to the series, The Chosen, which is a film representation of Jesus’ life*, shown from the perspective of those who followed him. I found it entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

I’m inviting the parish to join with me in watching this off-Hollywood TV series, all eight episodes, starting in late September. You can watch episodes at your convenience on YouTube or you can watch with the group on Wednesday nights. (Links and instructions coming soon).  Showtime will be 7pm and then, starting at 8pm I will present a short teaching followed by small group discussion.

We plan to start on Sep. 30, with both in-person and virtual participation options. We can accommodate 20 parishioners in the parish hall each week, which is now set up to also “Zoom In” participants joining remotely.

We will soon publish a general sign-up for the Wednesday on-site event. The page will only show three weeks at a time. I am asking attendees to sign up for just one session at first; afterwards, if they want to come again, we’ll have them wait until after 5pm on Tuesdays to see if spots are left. In this way, I hope that many different people will be able to  ‘watch one hour’ with me, with other parishioners, and with Jesus

Mark your calendars for the launch date, September 30, and stay tuned for more details!

Fr. Bill

*You can learn more about this series from a Catholic perspective:

“The Chosen: Get Used to Different” by Rachel Butman, Word on Fire

“The Chosen is a New and Promising TV Series on the Life of Christ” by James Merrick, National Catholic Register

Session 1 (September 30)

Episode 1 – “I Have Called You by Name”

Discussion Questions 1

Start with “What struck you or stood out to you from this video?” 

1) What do you think of the decision to begin the Chosen series with the story of Mary Magdalene?  What insights might be gained by approaching the Gospel story from her perspective?

2) Both Simon and Nicodemus had unwritten deals with the Romans about fishing on the Sabbath. How would you rate the morality of each man’s decision to cooperate with Rome? Were the two men’s motives the same? 

3) Why is it so important that Jesus calls all of his followers by name?  

4) How do we explain to a fearful world that God tells each of us not to fear?  (Isaiah 43:1)

What did you see in tonight’s episode that might lead to a different way of acting or thinking in the coming week?

Session 2 (October 7)

Episode 2 – “Shabbat”

Discussion Questions 2

What struck you or stood out to you from this video?

1) Jesus appears for four minutes in the first two episodes combined. Why are the writers waiting so long to share more details about the main character?

2) What is your reaction to the relationship between Simon and Eden? What do you think about the probability that the first Pope was a dutiful husband deeply in love with his wife?

3) Shabbat both opens and closes the episode, stressing the importance of a day set aside to rest and to honor God, family, and the wider community of believers. Which character’s words and deeds most closely portray the way you presently practice the Sabbath? Which would you more like to resemble?

4) The Roman Praetor Quintus sees something about Matthew that nobody else does. What are the qualities Quintus notices that will eventually have Jesus also choose Matthew?

What did you see in tonight’s episode that might lead to a different way of acting or thinking in the coming week?

Session 3

Episode 3 – “Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Discussion Questions 3

Episode 3 ~ “Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Introduce yourself and share something small (e.g. home parish) before sharing for the first time.

1) What was the thing that struck you or impressed you most about this episode?

2) What qualities of children make them so well-suited to enter the Kingdom of God?  How did the children in this episode demonstrate those?

3) The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) teaches that Jesus Christ is “consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 467).  Did this episode help or hinder your understanding of Jesus Christ as fully human?  Why?

4) This episode is almost entirely dramatized: the New Testament directly records none of these particular scenes. Does this influence your assessment of the episode’s value?  Why or why not?

What did you see in tonight’s episode that might lead to a different way of acting or thinking in the coming week?

Session 4

Episode 4 – “The Rock On Which It’s Built”

Discussion Questions 4


Edith to Peter: “Where is your faith?”
Peter: “Faith isn’t going to get me more fish.” Edith: “You have not pursued the Lord lately. You’re off to try to fix it again… No more talking. Maybe God can get your attention now. “

Scripture references

‣ Matthew 13:47-52 ‣ Luke 8:10
‣ Matthew 3:1-7
‣ Matthew 4:18-22 ‣ Luke 5:1-11


Jesus, Matthew, James & John, Andrew & Peter, Nicodemus, John the Baptist, Joseph of Arimethea, Zebedee

What is your one BIG question from this episode? (What captured your imagination most, and what would you ask God about the events portrayed?)


1. Which characters stood out to you most? Which were most interesting? Most moving?
2. How did the weaving of Peter’s backstory (all creative license) make you feel about the development of Peter’s character?
3. The night on the Sea of Galilee amplified the encounter with Jesus in the morning. Have you ever experiencing Jesus coming to you after a “dark night” in your life? Would you share?
4. What more do you learn about Matthew’s character? What do you think about the portrayal of him seeing Jesus at the lake?
5. Andrew met Jesus through John the Baptist and is confident He’s the Messiah. What do you think about his longing for Peter to know Jesus? Who is your “Peter?”
6. Why did Nicodemus want to know if John had performed miracles? What did he suspect?                                                 
7. What was the role of John the Baptist? (Luke 1:8-17, Luke 3:1-9) How is this also our role as the church?
8. How did it feel to see Zebedee encourage his sons to follow Jesus? Who encouraged you?
9. Jesus told the fisher brothers that they would become fishers of men. What did that mean for them? Is that our mission as well? Why or why not?

Session 5

Episode 5 – “The Wedding”

1) What was the thing that struck you or impressed you most about this episode?

2) Jesus refers to his mother as “the most important and powerful person I know.” How does this episode demonstrate this belief? Would you consider this portrayal in line with orthodox Catholic teaching on the
Blessed Virgin Mary?

3) Women play indispensable roles in the Chosen for revealing the necessity and nature of true faith in Jesus. How do the following characters tell us something essential about that faith: a) Mary, the Mother of Jesus? b) Dinah, the mother of the groom? c) Ramah, the business partner of Thomas? d) Mary of Magdala?

4) How did this episode help to draw out further the personality of Jesus of Nazareth?

Session 6

Episode 6 – “Indescribable Compassion


‣ Matthew 8:1-4 ‣ Luke 12: 36-48 ‣ Matthew 6: 1-18  

‣ Luke 18:1-14 ‣ Mark 2:1-12  

1) What struck you or impressed you most about this episode? 

2) Who would you equate with a tax collector today? How about a Roman  soldier? A Jewish citizen?  

3) How did Jesus preach about and show compassion? Do you think there  is a difference between compassion, giving, empathy, and/or good will?

4) Leprosy is one of the major diseases in the time of Jesus. It was a  sickness that rendered a person no longer worthy of dignity, love, or  community. Are there any “like” situations in our society today? How do you  think Jesus would treat them?

5) How can you connect with people in your life who aren’t part of the  “in” crowd, as Jesus did?

6) What quote from this episode was the most meaningful/powerful for  you? Explain.

Session 7

Episode 7 – “Invitations

‣ Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:1-21; Psalm 2: 11-12
‣ Matthew 9:9-13

1) What struck you or impressed you most about this episode?2) Reflect on Nicodemus’ journey to Jesus. How did he go from being a devout Pharisee to sitting in front of Jesus? What character qualities did he exhibit?
3) How have you recognized the effect of the Holy Spirit in your life? Have you had an experience of being “born again” of the Spirit that you’d like to share?
4. What did you think about how quickly Matthew agreed to follow Jesus? Did it surprise you especially in comparison to Nicodemus’ hesitation?
5. Stories like that of the bronze serpent can be shocking to us today. What caused the Israelites to suffer? What daily habits can you cultivate so that you obey as quickly as Matthew (and/or) Moses did?
6. What did you think of the exchange between Peter and Jesus when Jesus calls Matthew? How can we be more like Jesus today meeting people where they are, but wanting to extend Jesus’ love to them?

Additional Question –
What quote from this episode was the most meaningful/powerful for you? Explain.
Jesus to Mary: “With their faith, they would have found a way whether you brought them to the roof or not.”
Matthew: “My whole world, everything I thought I knew, what if it’s wrong?”
Jesus to Andrew: “You are there to guide our guest, not to be my protector.”
Jesus to Nicodemus: “If I have told you of earthly things, and you do not believe, how can I tell you heavenly things?”
Nicodemus: “My whole life I have wondered if I would see this day.”
Peter (about Matthew): “Do you have any idea what this guy has done? Do you even know him?”
Jesus: “Yes.”

Session 8

Episode 8 – “I Am He


‣ Genesis 33:18-20 ‣ Matthew 9:9-13 ‣ Hosea 6:6 ‣ Luke 4:38-39
‣ Genesis 16 (Story of Hagar) ‣ Daniel 7:13-14 John 4:1-42

Jesus, Nicodemus, Simon, Mary Magdalene, Andrew, Eden, Simon’s
mother-in-law, Samaritan Woman
1. Obedience at the risk of derision and opposition from others, or that
threatens our usual way of life seems impossible.
Discuss the different ways people (Simon, Eden, Matthew, Nicodemus,
etc.) reacted to Jesus’ directions and to the directions they received
from family and peers.
2. Jesus mentions several times that he’s not trying to make his followers
lives “easy,” nor is he here to deliver them from their oppressive
government. What is Jesus’ purpose in coming and in bringing His disciples
to follow him?
3. Who were the first told about Jesus’ birth? Who did He first tell about His
ministry? What were their social statuses?
4. What was significant about Jesus choosing to talk to a Samaritan
woman? How can you model that today?
5. Do some self reflection. Has there ever been a time in your life where
you were as excited about Jesus as the woman at the well was? How can
we bring back some of that excitement?
The Big Question:
What is your one BIG question from this episode? (What captured your
imagination most, and what would you ask God about the events

What quote from this episode was the most meaningful/impactful to you?

Jacob: “We didn’t choose him, he chose us.”
Eden to Peter: “Thank you.”
Peter: “Me? For what?”
Eden: “For obeying and following him.”
Jesus to his disciples: “Did you join me for safety reasons?”
Jesus: “Listen, if we are going to have a question and answer session
every time we do something you are not used to, this is going to be a
very annoying time together for all of us.”
Samaritan Woman: “I am rejected by others.”
Jesus: “I know. But not by the Messiah.”

St. Thomas the Apostle Church