Diocesan News

New Office of Spiritual Formation, director of evangelization

Story by Leigh Calfee

LINCOLN (SNR) - Matt Simmons’ enthusiasm for Jesus is infectious.

As the director of evangelization for the new Office of Spiritual Formation in the Diocese of Lincoln, he is focused on sharing his enthusiasm for the living God with Catholics throughout the diocese.

A former tattoo shop owner, Simmons spent some time working as a tattoo artist while also bringing people into the Church. He is the founder of Sacred Heart Ministries, an apostolate supported by Bishop James Conley. As a missionary with Sacred Heart Ministries, Simmons provides spiritual direction for various groups, presents workshops and accompanies individuals on the journey to an authentic relationship with Christ.

Simmons brings a wealth of experience to his new role and is well-equipped to teach the lay faithful throughout the diocese to pray and know Jesus with a deep intimacy.

“My heart is on fire,” he said, “so I am moved with desire to help other people find what I’ve found.”

Simmons’ desire is to help people develop vibrant interior prayer lives. He believes the lack of an authentic, prayerful relationship with the Lord is the root cause of all kinds of issues. To that end, Simmons would like to see Catholic communities across the diocese become genuine schools of prayer.

To assist priests with this task, Simmons and the Office of Spiritual Formation will hold retreats and workshops to train clergy, religious and key lay Catholics on how to develop prayer-focused parishes.

Additionally, the Office of Spiritual Formation will continue to facilitate retreats, spiritual direction and programs like Unbound.

“The office is here to assist all Catholics in the diocese with deepening their interior faith life,” Simmons said.

Father Andrew Heaslip, diocesan director of religious education, believes Simmons and the Office of Spiritual Formation will be a fantastic resource.

“People need guidance on how to pray and evangelize,” Father Heaslip said. “There’s a hunger for those things in our diocese.”

Teaching people to pray more effectively and empowering them to share their faith is the ultimate goal for the Office of Spiritual Formation, according to Father Heaslip.

He said, “After working with Matt Simmons for the last three years, I have full confidence in his ability to evangelize and bring people closer to Jesus.”

For Simmons, accompanying people as they journey toward a deep, authentic relationship with Jesus is what his life’s work is about. His desire is to see people stay in a place of intimacy with God.

“If people have never experienced conscious contact with God,” Simmons said,  “we’re here to help.”

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