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Parish Adult Faith Formation can be described to some extent as “an intentional, comprehensive, and systemic program of learning experiences for adults which are both catechetical* and instructional** in nature. The goal is to foster in participants a living, conscious and active Christian faith, that is, a living out of their baptismal call as disciples of Jesus Christ.  These experiences would include opportunities for critical reflection and dialogue among participants, with the hope that they would be inspired to incorporate Gospel values into their daily lives” (Diocesan office of Catechesis).

*Catechesis  may be described as an education of children, young people and adults in faith, which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life”(Catechesis Tradendae, 18). The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people in communion and intimacy with Jesus Christ” (5).

**Instructional can be understood broadly, but does imply some intentional presentation and exploration of the Christian life and The “instructor” may be one or more presenters or facilitators: audio, video, or print material; an “instructional” discussion group, etc…

A pastoral plan for Adult Faith Formation was issued by the Catholic Bishops of the United States entitled Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us.  It uses the Easter scriptural passage of the disciples on the “Road to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-35) as the model for the plan, calling us to be like Jesus who joins people in their daily concerns and walks side by side with them on the pathway of life, asking questions and listening attentively.  As Jesus did in Luke’s gospel, we will share with the people of God the scriptures, the living word of God “which can touch their hearts and minds, and unfold the deep meaning of their experience in light of all that Jesus said and did.” [Then, as Jesus broke bread with them], “we will trust the capacity of prayer and sacrament to open their eyes to the presence and love of Christ” (US Cath. Bishops 2,3).

As the two disciples in this gospel found a profound learning experience in their encounter with Jesus, this “passage offers us a model for our ministry, and shows the need all have for ongoing formation in faith.  For in it we see two adult disciples who, encountering the risen Lord, grow stronger in love, knowledge, commitment, and zeal” (3).  In the word of Pope Paul VI, taken from his letter On Evangelization in the Modern World:  “Those who are already disciples of Jesus Christ . . . [need] to be constantly nourished by the word of God so that they may grow in their Christian life” (#50).  In the same letter he sites the need for adult formation as a priority in Church catechetical ministry and says that “it must be considered the chief form of catechesis.  All the other forms, which are indeed always necessary, are in some way oriented to it” (#59).

The Goals of Adult Faith Formation (taken from OHBWU)

The Holy See’s International Council for Catechesis on Adult Catechesis in the Christian Community stresses that all catechesis should strive to build adult Christian communities that are strong in faith, clearly proclaim the Gospel, celebrate vibrant and reverent liturgy, and give courageous witness in charity.  This document, then, specifies the following three goals to guide and direct efforts in adult faith formation (#67).

1.     Invite and Enable Ongoing Conversion to Jesus in Holiness of Life

In response to God’s call to holiness, our faith and life as adult disciples are grounded in developing a personal relationship with Jesus, “the Holy One of God” (John 6:69, Mark 1:24). Accordingly, “at the heart of catechesis we find in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Catechesis aims at putting people . . . in communion… with Jesus Christ” (#68).

As its first goal, faith formation helps adults “to acquire an attitude of conversion to the Lord.”  This attitude fosters a baptismal spirituality for adults. It leads them to recognize and repent of sin in their hearts and lives, to seek reconciliation through the sacraments, and to embrace the invitation and challenge of an ever deepening faith in Jesus.  It means putting on the mind of Christ, trusting in the Father’s love, obeying God’s will, seeking holiness of life, and growing in love for others.  Deepening personal prayer is a significant means toward growth in holiness in daily life (#69).

2.     Promote and Support Active Membership in the Christian

As adult believers, we learn and live our faith as active members of the Church.  Our response to God’s call to community “cannot remain abstract and unincarnated,” but rather, “reveals itself concretely by a visible entry into a community of believers . . . a community which itself is a sign of transformation, a sign of newness of life: it is the Church, the visible sacrament of Salvation.” People find this community of faith in the parish and diocese, as well as in their families, small church communities, personal relationships, faith-based associations, and in the communion of saints of all times and places (#70).

Accordingly, faith formation helps adults to make “a conscious and firm decision to live the gift and choice of faith through membership in the Christian community,” accepting “coresponsibility for the community’s mission and internal life.”   Adults not only receive the ministries of the Christian community, they also contribute to its life and mission through the generous stewardship of their gifts (#71).

3.     Call and Prepare Adults to Act as Disciples in Mission to the World

The church and its adult faithful have a mission in and to the world:  to share the message of Christ to renew and to transform the social and temporal order.  This dual calling to evangelization and justice is integral to the identity of the lay faithful; all are called to it in baptism (#72).

Accordingly, faith formation seeks to help each adult believer become “more willing and able to be a Christian disciple in the world.”  As salt of the earth and light for the world (cf. Mt. 5:13-16), adult disciples give witness to God’s love and caring will so that, in the power of the Spirit, they may renew the face of the earth (#73).

Responsibilities of the Ministry of Adult Faith Formation at St. Frances de Chantal Parish:

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA): It is a process by which an adult requesting to become a Catholic is fully initiated into the Catholic church.  

Homecoming:   A welcoming and instructional program for inactive Catholic who  desire to return to active participation in the Catholic Church.

Adult Confirmation:  It is a process of catechesis and formation for any baptized Catholic who has already received Eucharist (made their First Holy Communion) and desires to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Candidates must be eighteen years of age.

Religious Study Programs:  Programs approved by the diocese for Catechists seeking Diocesan Certification.

Small Christian Communities:  Coordinator of the Core Team, Facilitators and Share Faith, Share Dessert.  [Check our website for further information].

Parish Library:  The library is closed due to expansion.  When cataloguing is completed, it will house books and audio tapes as well as already catalogued video tapes.  The library will also be a place for other Adult Faith Formation activities.  Completion date is targeted for the Fall of 2004.

Prepare the Adult Faith Formation Yearly Calendar of Programs and Events (including the Lenten Parish Retreat and the Pentecost Evening Prayer [Vespers]). [Check our website for further information].

Assist with other instructional programs and staff assignments. For further information call 785-2333 x206.