To make adult catechesis a priority, look at what is already happening in your parish and then at ways to enhance or expand formation, starting with these 10 opportunities for building adult faith formation.
Sunday liturgy is the center of our Church’s life. It is the place where the largest number of people is catechized regularly—through communal prayer, homilies, music, hospitality, the environment, and even the bulletin! Work in conjunction with priests, the liturgy committee, and others to build a variety of ways to help your parishioners look more deeply at liturgy.
While the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is focused on those who are joining the Church, it reaches well beyond. Recruiting and training team members and sponsors is one way to bring others into this process. Using the process as a model for a separate formation opportunity for parishioners has been used in many parishes with great success.
Parent sacramental sessions
Parents come probably a bit nervous to ensure their children are well-prepared for the sacraments. Don’t settle for an informational or how-to program, but use part of this time to provide adult catechesis for the parents so they can grow more mature in their sacramental lives. Sacramental sessions are also the perfect time for a bit of evangelizing. Invite those who “missed” a sacrament or need to have their marriages blessed to make this a jubilee year for the whole family. Arrange with those in marriage preparation so the family can celebrate together by First Holy Communion time. Introduce the parents to the Sunday Connection online resources that help families prepare for the Sunday liturgy. Confirmation sponsor sessions can be used to encourage the sponsors to mentor their candidates through the time of preparation and beyond.
Are couples preparing for marriage being connected to the life of the parish? Including parish sponsor couples or other forms of parish preparation can make this connection.
Continually emphasizing the importance of ongoing formation and providing opportunities for catechists to take courses makes such a difference, both in the catechists touched and in the overall program. Teacher manuals offer information on the topic of the week, but diocesan certification programs fill in the gaps and help build better witnesses.
Where else but in the Catholic Church will droves of people come out to get dirt on their foreheads? But the six weeks of Lent provide a short-term, highly motivated time for faith formation. There are many programs based on the readings that can deepen the Lenten experience.
Retreats, whether day or weekend, can truly set an adult’s heart burning. Parish-based retreats have the added value of forming a community ready to go deeper.
Parish ministries and organizations are involved in witnessing and evangelizing our faith. Take time at training sessions to do things like reminding ushers that their greetings at the door may be the welcome needed to turn a seeker into a member. Look for opportunities to deepen faith at all group meetings.
Weekly study groups
The variety of Bible study programs available today is tremendous. In addition, the U.S. Catholic Catechism and other resources provide easy-to-use resources for group study on faith topics. Most require a facilitator to guide the discussion and have training materials for the leaders.
Slowly build a parish library. Include links to good Catholic Web sites on your parish’s Web site or present them at parent meetings in handouts. Consider forming a book club that could choose from some of the outstanding Catholic writings that are out there.
What other ways have you found helpful for building adult faith formation?