Witnesses for Christ


Freedom from one of the greatest obstacles in life – the “cage” of everyday discouragement we all experience.


Fr. Timothy Gallagher O.M.V.
is a Catholic priest, speaker,
author,  retreat leader

Recordings of Father Gallagher’s
presentations available!

Recordings of Father Gallagher’s four presentations along with his book, “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement” are available for $15 from the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

Fee includes Fr. Gallagher’s Book Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement shipped to your home.
Discussion questions for Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement – PDF

Contact Paula Boyle at 608-791-2658 or [email protected].

What you will learn:

• How to leave the sins, weaknesses, and failures  of your past to God’s mercy
• Ways you can be joyful even when you do not feel happy
• How to evade sadness, melancholy, and temptation
• Proven techniques for waging warfare against negative moods
• How to recognize the enemy, even when he presents himself  under the appearance of good
• What is holy presumption, why you want it, and how to get it
• What to do when you have reached the point of despair

There is no shame in discouragement. Father Gallagher reminds us that the greatest of saints suffered from this affliction. The key is to learn how to draw closer to God in life’s difficult moments.



Fr. Timothy Gallagher O.M.V.

Overview of Father Gallagher’s presentations

Living with Hope (50 mins)

• That place in our hearts that is afraid—and allowing the Lord to love us there

• How God sees our weaknesses and failures—and the love that meets us there

• How to evade sadness, melancholy, and temptation Living the Spiritual Life

• When we keep repeating the same failures—and God’s faithful love

• How to pray in time of spiritual discouragement

• How to leave the sins, weaknesses, and failures of your past to God’s mercy

Living the Day with Jesus (50 mins)

• What to do in time of spiritual discouragement

• The difference the Eucharist makes in time of spiritual discouragement Living the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

• But my prayer seems so poor—and God’s encouraging response

• Ways you can be joyful even when you do not feel happy

Living with Mary (50 mins)

• Mary: Our Mother in the order of grace and a source of hope

• What is holy presumption, why you want it, and how to get it

• Proven techniques for waging warfare against negative moods

 Living with Courage (50 mins)

• Drawing closer to God in life’s darkest moments

• It is never too late!  Beginning again, today, now

• Questions and Answers

Closing Prayer

Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement

Freedom from one of the greatest obstacles in life –  the “cage” of everyday discouragement we all experience.

Facing Our Greatest Obstacle in Life

Have you ever struggled with discouragement? Do you ever tell yourself: “I feel like I’ll never measure up,” or “My prayer life is not what it should be.” Do you ask: “Why am I not truly happy more often?” or “God, why are you not with me in this struggle?” Everyone has faced such things and all of us need help in this area.

One of the greatest obstacles in life is spiritual discouragement. The term spiritual discouragement is not referring to some lofty, complicated matter; nor does it denote, necessarily, reaching a point of deep, dark depression. Father Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V., has published a simple to read and compelling book titled “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement.” Basic spiritual discouragement affects every person, so it’s helpful to have a definition. As explained in his book: “Discouragement is the main obstacle in our spiritual lives. The main obstacle is not our more obvious failings – our impatience, our slowness to help others, our limitations in prayer, our self-indulgence, our failures to listen. The great obstacle is giving in to discouragement when we see such failings in ourselves” (p. 26). Understanding this key point can be a game changer!

Spiritual discouragement can easily slip into everyday life. People tend to “beat themselves up” when they make the same mistakes and the devil actively exploits this vulnerability, shrewdly leading us time and again into an overwhelming sense of disturbance. Satan seeks to hold us in this discouragement, so we can’t accept the forgiveness and mercy that God has obtained for us. Our enemy tempts us to focus on our failings rather than to look to Jesus and take our faults to Him. This approach does not mean that we just brush aside or forget about our sins, rather it encourages us to turn to Jesus. He is our Savior, He will come to us right there when we fail, and allow us to move forward with His grace, away from sin.

The gentle reflections in this book contain so many gems that are abundantly helpful for daily life. In conjunction with our tendency to get down on ourselves, here is one uplifting example that shows us how to change our focus, seeking to move our attention away from our shortcomings and sin and placing our focus on God’s goodness:

I will never think of God as if He were of our condition and grows weary of our wavering, weakness and negligence. Rather, I will think of what is truly characteristic of Him and what He prizes most highly, that is, His goodness and mercy, knowing that He is a loving Father who understands our weakness, is patient with us, and forgives us. If I should fall a thousand times a day, a thousand times a day I will begin again, with new awareness of my weakness, promising God, with a peaceful heart, to amend my life. (Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement, p. 18-19)

This advice may seem overly simple, but how many times when we fail, do we begin to “wallow” in our mistakes and never explicitly stop heading down the path of discouragement. All of us have faults. Most of us have subconsciously thought that life is good and God is hard. But this is where our focus has failed, and we have misunderstood the truth – the truth that life is hard and God is good. He is so pleased when we think about His goodness. He loves us so much that He wants to give us everything that is good. In fact, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down to us from the Father of Lights.” (James 1:17) We can never have too much hope in God, that is, too much confidence in Him. He, in His unconditional goodness and love, is absolutely worthy of our trust.

If these reflections resonate with you, I am pleased to share some great news! Fr. Gallagher recently spoke to over 500 people in the Diocese on the timely topic of overcoming spiritual discouragement and his presentations were very well received. Those presentations were recorded and are now available.  Fr. Gallagher is a world-renown teacher and retreat master, who truly has a gift for speaking at a level that everyone can understand, and provides so much practical wisdom. The presentations are, above all, concrete and applicable for everyday life. With warmth, understanding, and pastoral skill, Father Gallagher provides a hopeful invitation to all who struggle to overcome the greatest obstacle of all in the “everyday” and spiritual life — discouragement.

If you would like to receive the four recorded presentations by Fr. Gallagher and his book, “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement” that will be mailed to you, email Paula Boyle at [email protected] or call 608-791-2658.   Cost is $15.  Checks can be made out to the Diocese of La Crosse and mailed to the Office for Catechesis and Evangelization, attn. Paula Boyle, Diocese of La Crosse, 3710 East Ave, P.O. Box 4004, La Crosse, WI.  54602-4004.

By Ann Lankford, Director of  the Office for Catechesis
Published in the March Catholic Life Magazine 2020



Live links to eight sessions about important current topics. Each session is 1 hr.

1. A Compelling Resource for Parish Small Groups

Fr. Brian Konopa, Susan Halter, Peter Schmitz, Lisa Doering, Linda Schwartz, Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, La Crosse

Would you like to become a parish of Missionary Disciples?  One excellent way is through the Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) Faith Study Series.  This series is more than just an opportunity to add to your knowledge of the Catholic faith.  It calls for a conversion of heart and mind and, according to the CCO objectives: “Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is designed to bring participants to a real and effective encounter with Jesus Christ and to progressively build them into the Missionary Disciples the Church needs them to be.” This workshop will provide an overview of CCO’s mission, objectives and goals as well as the learnings and experiences of those who have facilitated CCO faith-sharing groups over the past two years.


2. Fostering Holiness in Children – Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Carolyn Kohlhaas, Formation Leader for CGS;
Peg Klinkhammer, Coordinator of CGS Atrium in Wisconsin Rapids &
Rosemary Hokamp, CRE at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Wisconsin Rapids

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is a Montessori-based method of Catholic faith formation through which children ages 3 to 12 can grow in their relationship with God through a deep engagement in Scripture and liturgy. Utilized by schools, parishes, and religious communities, the work of CGS is “catching fire” and spreading throughout the US and the world. Join us for an overview of CGS, the developmental needs of children, and a look at how this Method can be a gift to you and to the children and families you serve.


3. Theology of the Body: A Basic Overview for Forming Youth

Christopher Ruff, Director for Ministries & Social Concerns,
Julie Studinski, Youth and Adult Ministry at St. Bronislava Parish in Plover and St. Francis Parish in Knowlton and
Cassie Thayer, Catechetical Leader at St. Patrick Parish in Mauston

Chris Ruff, who studied Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body extensively at the JPII Institute in Rome, will present an overview of what it is and why it is so vitally important for young people today.  He will drill down to the heart of it and explain why it is about so much more than just human sexuality (though it certainly includes that).  Julie will focus on equipping and energizing facilitators to present Theology of the Body to our youth using the very best programs, such as YOU for High School and Theology of the Body for Middle School from Ascension Press.  She will introduce you to approaches that will help you feel comfortable presenting this important and necessary topic.  Cassie will introduce Ruah Woods Resources, which present the gift of each person as a child of God through hard-bound beautiful story books.  She can speak from fruitful experience to these Theology of the Body Resources being used in Kindergarten through 5th Grade, revealing that the children greatly enjoy the stories and engage well.


4. Effectively using Conversion Stories to Catechize Youth

Clare Ruff, Catholic Liaison, Director of Events and Outreach – Hosea Initiative;
Chris Rogers, Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministry

Our Lord repeatedly used parables to convey truths that were challenging.  Stories have the power to inspire and motivate precisely because they are personal​ ​and non- confrontational. This workshop will explore the art of effective storytelling as an impactful tool for evangelizing people of all ages.  As part of the presentation the speakers will tell the powerful conversion stories of 3 modern individuals (2 of them saints) who ​grappled with issues relevant today and became vibrant witnesses of the Gospel.


5.  Partnering with Families in Youth Ministry

Bill Keimig, Assistant Director of the Catechetical Institute; Bob Rice, long-term youth minister and teacher at Franciscan University of Steubenvile;
Steve Allgeyer, President of Ministry Advancement for Life Teen Inc;
Joel Stepanich, Director of Resource Development for Life Teen International 

Parents are the hinge-point of successfully and consistently reaching most teens. It is essential therefore that those in youth ministry understand their role is to provide support, empower, and partner with families. Franciscan at Home provides engaging and beautiful online workshops at franciscanathome.com. These four, lively presenters will engage participants to principles and practices that lead to actively partnering with parents.  Cost for the workshop is $5 per month or $13 per month to have a mentor.  Go to franciscanathome.com to sign up. Click on “Youth Ministry Track”, then “First Year Youth Ministry” where “Partnering with Families in Youth Ministry” is located.


6.  Pastoral Care amid Confusion about Sexual Identity

Father Paul Check, long-time director of the Courage Apostolate;
Chris Ruff, Director for Ministries and Social Concerns;                                            Terry Bell, FOCUS Team Director, Roncalli Newman Parish in La Crosse

In the midst of a confused culture, how can we affirm and teach God’s fundamental design for the human person as male and female, created in His image and called to a life of self-giving love?  How can we do this in a way that is sensitive to the ears of our young people (and their parents) and to their sincerely-held though often misled beliefs?  And yet in a way that is also unafraid to speak the truth — because we know God has written that truth deep within every human heart? These are the questions that Chris Ruff and Chris Rogers will address as they consider the most common misconceptions about identity and gender.


7.  Praying with Scripture

Ann Lankford, Director for Catechesis and Evangelization

Would you like to have a deepened appreciation for the importance of the meditative reading of Scripture in your daily walk with the Lord, and to teach your children, grandchildren, students?  Pope Benedict XVI stated that, “the ancient tradition of Praying with ScriptureLectio Divina… will bring to the Church a new spiritual springtime.”  Experience the prayerful pondering of sacred Scripture in the timeless Lectio Divina in which the Holy Spirit makes a connection between the passage and one’s own life.  Franciscan at Home provides engaging and beautiful online workshops.  Cost for the workshop is $5 per month.  Go to franciscanathome.com to sign up. After registering, click on Catechist Track, then click on Advanced Catechist Certification, then click on Praying with Scripture:  Lectio Divina.


8. Relationship, Intentionality, and Accompaniment: The Cornerstones of Ministry

Jennifer Kulzer, High School Faith Formation, Confirmation Preparation and RCIA at Blessed Sacrament Parish in La Crosse &
Andrew Brueggen, Youth Minister at St. Patrick’s Parish in Onalaska;
Cassie Thayer, Catechetical Leader at St. Patrick’s Parish in Mauston;
Jacqueline Van Hemert, Catechetical Leader at St. Mary’s in Altoona and
Michael Van Hemert, Catholic School teacher at Regis High School in Eau Claire.

The Gospels show us that when Christ would teach He did it in a way that imparted knowledge and evoked a personal response from each of those He encountered. As our youth are feeling increasingly isolated because of the effects of today’s culture, we need to become more like Christ and let each person we encounter know his or her worth as a son or daughter of God. This session will give practical tips on how to become intentional in your ministry for accompanying people of all ages.


Contact Information

Office of Catechesis
Phone: 608.791.2658

Ann Lankford, M.A, Director

Paula Boyle, Administrative Assistant

Diane Hietpas, Diocesan Consultant
Ministry for Persons with Special Needs (MPSN)