Toward Lifelong Faith Formation

Why is Lifelong Faith Formation so important today?

What’s Changing? 

--Catholic Culture in the Past

These four circles represented the primary relational groups for families.  Many common values were shared and reinforced by these relational groups.

Today, We Live...

  • We live in a time of rapid social and cultural transformation, nationally and globally.
  • We are a society of increasing secularization with a pluralism of value systems.
  • We live in an experienced-based, participative, interactive, image-driven and connected culture.
  • We live in a de-traditionalized society where received traditions no longer provide meaning and authority in everyday life.

--Catholic Culture in the Present

These four primary circles of relationship in the past do not necessarily exist for the majority of families today.  Catholic school often is replaced by public school.  Ethnic culture often is replaced by secular society.  Parish often is replaced by sports groups.  These circles of relationship do not share the same values.

Catholic Generational Trends

Family

  • Diminishing involvement of families and the younger generations with the Catholic community and the Catholic way of life
  • Decline in religious traditions and practices at home
  • Inability to keep people engaged in church life and catechesis after the celebration of a sacrament

Catholic Identity Today
U.S. Catholics are:

  • less attached to the Church
  • less likely to participate in sacraments and traditional devotional practices
  • more likely to distinguish between teachings they consider core (and tend to accept) and ones they view as peripheral (and tend to disagree with)
  • showing no signs of returning to early levels of religious orthodoxy.

Faith & Religious Practice

  • Uncoupling:
    • Faith and church life
    • Catholic identity and attachment to Church
  • Catholicism is perceived as a religion with personal options and choice, rather than an interdependent community of shared belief in Christ
  • Religious literacy: problem for all, but especially post Vatican II generations
    • Knowing and understanding what Catholics believe
    • Understanding what is distinct about being Catholic

So, where are we?

We have an adult church:

  • Baptized but not converted
  • Not knowledgeable in faith
  • Most adults: not engaged with us

 

A New Approach to Faith Formation

 

Shift in Catechesis (proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ through Formation in Faith)

Moving beyond our reliance on a schooling approach to children and teens . . .
Embracing catechesis for the whole parish community.

Hopes and Dreams for Faith Formation

  • Lifelong learning and discipleship
  • Adult faith formation
  • Practicing the faith at home and in the world
  • Family involvement and household faith formation
  • Intergenerational connections
  • Involvement in the faith community

A New Approach to Faith Formation

  • Moving from a limited focus on catechesis for children and teens until Confirmation by implementing lifelong faith formation for all ages and generations, including and especially adults
  • Ending “start and stop” catechesis by implementing lifelong and continuous faith formation, learning for a lifetime through involvement in the events of Church life
  • Overcoming age segregation by implementing intergenerational faith formation, making connections among the generations in learning programs and parish involvement
  • Moving beyond the focus on the “textbook as the curriculum” by utilizing the events of Church life as the curriculum for all ages and generations: the Church Year, sacramental celebrations, community prayer, and works of justice and service and providing catechesis that prepares everyone for learning by participating in the events of Church life

We need an approach to lifelong faith formation that…

  • nurtures the Catholic identity of all parishioners for a lifetime
  • re-engages all generations in participating in Catholic community life, especially Sunday Mass
  • equips and supports families, and especially parents, to create a pattern of family faith sharing and a Catholic  way of life
  • involves all of the generations in learning together
  • transforms the parish community into a community of lifelong learners

This Vision Leads to a New Approach

Lifelong . . .

For everyone

Event-centered . . .

Rooted in the events of our Church

Intergenerational . . .

Learning the way we live
Learning the way we worship

Goals of Lifelong Faith Formation

  • The aim of catechetical activity consists in precisely this: to encourage a living, explicit, and fruitful profession of faith.
    (General Directory of Catechesis no. 66)
  • The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ.
    (GDC no. 80)
  • Catechesis aims to bring about in the believer an ever more mature faith in Jesus Christ, a deeper knowledge and love of his person and message, and a firm commitment to follow him.
    (National Directory of Catechesis 19)
  • The object of catechesis is communion with Jesus Christ. Catechesis leads people to enter the mystery of Christ, to encounter him, and to discover themselves and the meaning of their lives in him. (NDC 19)

Characteristics of Lifelong Faith Formation

  • Catechesis takes place
    in Faith community
  • It’s
    lifelong
  • It’s integrated vs. isolated
  • It emerges
    from the life and events of the Church
  • It’s rooted in a
    systematic core curriculum
  • It involves a
    pedagogy of prepare=>engage=>reflect
  • It’s anchored at home and in the parish

Unfolding at St. Anthony's in 2020!!!

 

 
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