An Interview with Lisa Friedlander, Director of Special Projects Building the New Reality Phase, RMC

by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism



Dr. Knight: Could you tell us about your early Catholic formation?


Lisa: I am a cradle Catholic who attended Catholic school from kindergarten through 12 grade and even attended a Catholic law school. Every single person I knew in my childhood was Catholic and went to Church. It was just something we did but honestly, I never gave my faith much thought until I became an adult and was faced with the task of raising my own children in the faith.


Dr. Knight: Could you tell us how you became interested in working in the Catholic Church?


Lisa: After my second child was born, I quit practicing law to stay home with my children. When my youngest child went to full time school, I began considering my next steps. I knew I did not want to go back to practicing law because, although I loved it, it was too much of a time commitment for me with small children and a husband who traveled each week for work. I had been heavily involved as a volunteer at my local parish for years and it was work that I really enjoyed for a place I really loved, so I asked my pastor to keep me in mind if a position ever opened up on his staff. The rest is history.


Dr. Knight: you explain to us what the Faith Hub consists of?


Lisa: Detailed information about all things Faith Hub can be found on the website at https://faithhubchicago.org/ but in a nutshell:


The Faith Hub is a Renew My Church initiative in support of the movement of renewal across the Archdiocese of Chicago. It is a platform providing renewal programs and ideas for parishes across the archdiocese. We serve as the hub for pastoral innovation where Chicago’s pioneers of parish renewal gather to encounter God more deeply, grow in faith, pray & worship together and lead renewal by example. Many leaders from over forty parishes across the archdiocese have participated in this support.


Dr. Knight: What are some of the programs that support evangelization?


Lisa: An exhaustive list of offerings can be found on the website https://faithhubchicago.org/ but some of our most popular offerings include:

  • Alpha: A series of conversations that explore life, spirituality and faith in a fun, non-judgmental and open environment. It’s perfect for skeptics, the curious, anyone with doubts or those who want to talk about life’s real issues with new friends.

  • Following Jesus: Then and Now: A 9-week discipleship course that explores how people have followed Jesus in the past and how we can follow Him today.

  • Rooted in the Church: An eight-week exploration of some of the foundational elements and core concepts of Catholicism.

  • Go Forth: A 5-week course for individuals feeling the call to step up and lead others into relationship with Jesus. Specifically, this course will help in facilitating faith discussions within small-group faith communities.

  • Lydia Institute: A small-group based opportunity for women to encounter God more deeply, experience on-going formation and be accompanied on the journey towards missionary discipleship.

Dr. Knight: What do people say after they take part in the evangelization programs?


Lisa: Overwhelmingly, people have responded that they have grown in their own faith and obtained the tools necessary to help those in their own parishes grow in faith. But, actions speak even louder than words and we have seen dozens and dozens of Faith Hub course participants go on to lead courses at the Faith Hub and back in their own parishes!


Dr. Knight: What are some of the most effective programs?


Lisa: See answer above. 😊


Dr. Knight: The team that is invested and bringing the faith to others seem totally engaged in the programs. What becomes evident in this group?


Lisa: The team members leading our courses have all gone through the courses as participants and felt the call to help others experience what they went through. When you personally have an encounter with Jesus, learn something new or connect with others who are also on the journey to becoming disciples of Jesus, you just naturally want others to experience this kind of joy and you are eager to help them do it!


Dr. Knight: Your title says that you are “Building the New Reality” what does that mean?


Lisa: Building the New Reality is a stage of the Renew My Church process in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Once parishes have gone through the decision and discernment stage, where structural change of Catholic parishes in a certain area is considered, the needs of the communities are prayerfully evaluated, and the Catholic presence in the midst of the people is reimagined, the work of Building the New Reality begins. The parishes in this phase of Renew My Church focus on three critical steps supporting parish vitality: developing parish core leadership teams, building and fostering a culture of evangelization and long-term pastoral plan for making disciples, building communities, and inspiring witness.


Dr. Knight: What do you think/feel/hope moves people to become stronger believers?


Lisa: Our hope at the Faith Hub is to move each individual person farther along on their own journey of becoming a missionary disciple so that they can return to their own parishes and help others in the same way.


Dr. Knight: Thank you for helping us to understand the breadth and depth of this program.