Jane Heinrich struck gold when she discovered The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study. After all, this wasn’t an average Bible study. Rather, Heinrich said it’s been a place where Catholics like herself can express how to relate to Jesus, His Church — and especially one another.
“It has given me a deeper appreciation of the Scripture that I have heard all of my life,” said Heinrich, who met Aug. 9 with the ministry team that leads the St. Cletus branch in St. Charles. “But now because I can see how Jesus related to other people in a continuum, it gives me a broader spectrum to share my faith with others. The things others come out with in terms of how they relate to Jesus in their lives — it’s amazing.”
That’s exactly what The Cornerstone set out to do nearly 40 years ago, when the Scripture study began in St. Louis: to deepen the personal relationship between God and His people through prayer and the study of His Word.
The Cornerstone was inspired by references in Scripture of Jesus as “The Cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Maryann Rice, a member of Ste. Genevieve du Bois Parish in Warson Woods and facilitator of the branch at St. Joseph in Clayton, co-founded the study with along with friends Maleen Corrigan, Peggy Kerckhoff, Judy Gallaher, Helen Pennington, and the late Father Bill Kester.
A new study on the Book of Genesis will begin in the fall (many start in September), and typically runs through April of 2022. Each branch offers a Visitor’s Day for individuals interested in learning more about the study, before making a commitment. (See related.)
Cornerstone Bible Study method
The Cornerstone is a fully integrated study of Scripture, offering participants four exposures to each of the books of the Bible that are studied. Those include a daily individual study guide, weekly small group sessions, commentaries written by a Catholic theologian, and spiritual reflections given by a branch facilitator, with a focus on the personal application of Scripture. Materials receive an imprimatur from the Archbishop of St. Louis.
There is a movement from the private dimension of answering questions alone to a public dimension of sharing answers and listening to the input of others. The goal is to uncover the richness of Scripture and the ways in which God touches individual minds and hearts.
History of The Cornerstone
In 1984 a group of Catholic women in St. Louis were searching for biblically based spiritual enrichment. After asking around with several priests, Father Bill Kester, then at St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood, agreed to become the group’s spiritual advisor. Together they prayed for guidance in formulating a new Scripture study with a Catholic foundation. Since then, it’s expanded to include more than 1,200 participants in 19 branches in California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Texas. Father Jim Benz, pastor of St. Cletus, is the current spiritual advisor.
Maryann Rice had sought out other Scripture study programs, but nothing really fit the bill, especially when it came to something with a Catholic foundation. Other Bible study programs, she said, were missing many important elements, such as Catholic devotions, rituals and rites. The hope was to also have a prayerful and heartfelt approach, looking at the relationship with Jesus, rather than a purely academic approach, Rice said.
There is a commitment to the study, but “it’s undeniable that The Cornerstone changes people’s lives,” she said. “What we wanted to do is teach people how to pray through Scripture. It’s been an awakening for people to meet with other people and share your heart. We talk to the Lord about what’s going on in our lives, and I feel so present to the Lord and so present to the people. It’s truly a wonderful thing that God has done.”
Members of the ministry team with the St. Cletus branch, who held a planning meeting for the study coming in the fall, described their experience with The Cornerstone as “transforming.”
Years ago, Jan DuBray was invited by a friend to a Bible study at a different Christian church. She later learned about The Cornerstone. “It’s transforming because you cannot get to know Christ through Scripture without changing your own life,” she said. Within a year of joining The Cornerstone, her husband passed away.
“Without that help, I don’t know I would have survived that,” DuBray said.
Nancy Derryberry first became involved in The Cornerstone when she was living in Springfield, Missouri. When she moved back to St. Louis, she saw something about it in the St. Louis Review and signed up at St. Cletus.
“It’s about relationship with Christ and with community,” she said, “which is the heart of the Church. The faith journeys and stories that people share are wonderful to hear and so uplifting.”
The Cornerstone Scripture Study is a reference to Jesus as The Cornerstone. He is the very foundation upon whom our lives are built. In Isaiah 28:16, Jesus, our Messiah, is described for us “a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”
In Ephesians 2:19-21, it says we are part of a “household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple.”
The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study
The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study will explore the Book of Genesis this fall. Meetings will start in mid-September at Annunziata and Mary Queen of Peace, and different dates at other locations. No prior biblical study is needed. Branches are still making individual determinations whether to hold the study in person or virtually.
Annunziata (Ladue) — Thursdays, 9:30-11:15 a.m.
Mary Mother of Church (south St. Louis County) — Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Mary Queen of Peace (Webster Groves) — Thursdays, 7-8:45 p.m.
St. Cletus (St. Charles) — Mondays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
St Joseph (Clayton) — Wednesdays, 9:30-11:15 a.m.
St. Monica (Creve Coeur) — Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Each branch offers a Visitor’s Day for individuals interested in learning more about the study, before making a commitment. For more information, see thecornerstonescripturestudy.org. Or call 1-(877)-7THEWORD (784-3967).