Adult Faith Formation

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One of the big holes here at my new parish is Adult Faith Formation. They used to call it RCIA here, but I make a distinction between the education/formation program and the Rites of Initiation as they are celebrated in Church. Beside, any Catholic should be welcome and encouraged to participate, not just those who are becoming Catholic.

One of my first tasks is to form a Faith Formation Team, and then to develop the program. Does anyone have any suggestions of books that might be used as a text? Also I have developed my own list of topics, but do you have any suggestions of topics that absolutely have to be included?

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Fr. Jeff Keyes:
Are you talking about faith formation as an ongoing thing, having a spiritual game plan as in the Handbook of Prayers? I have a whole collection of books from Scepter,all 7 volumes of Conversations with God by Francis Fernandez,The Navarre Bible,Daily Roman Missal, Cathechism of the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II,Books by Scott Hahn: Living the Mysteries, Lord Have Mercy,Rome Sweet Rome,Way of Perfection,John of the Cross, Henri Nouwen's Prodigal Son,A Moral Life in Christ by Aurelio Fernandez and Jaime Socias...I am a life-long learner, a student and a teacher.

Peace, Fr Jeff.

I'd recommend you try Generations of Faith, though it is a comprehensive all-ages effort. They have a web site.

You probably already have this covered but I'd suggest "Lord, teach us how to pray" as a subject. Many times one runs into dry spells in one's prayer life. I find books like Belmonte & Socias' "Handbook of Prayers" (Scepter) helpful. Wasn't St. Teresa of Avila herself who relied on printed prayers for years at a time when she found herself in an arid place? In any case, familiar Catholic prayers written down (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Hail! Holy Queen, etc.) would be helpful to many folks.

Fr Keyes.

What you are talking about is truly apologetics. It is our having to be reminded of the basic tenents of our faith. There are such great gaps in what many of us were taught.

Topics to highlight:

The real presence and why it is critically important. Where the bible came from and why. What Martin Luther's choice to ADD one word to the bible has meant to the Christians around us. Sola Scritura vs the three legged stool of Scripture (Bible), the oral tradition (Catechism) and the teaching authority of the Church (Magesterium). That we believe in the communion of saints and the church, militant, suffering and triumphant. In a nutshell those attending Sunday mass say it each week - The Nicene Creed.

I have been blessed to be attending an apologietics class at a local parish for the last several months. Two hours every Wednesday evening. It is based on the Beginning Apologetics series from San Juan Catholic Seminars.

Fr Paul stresses that the primary purpose of this is to teach us so that WE understand our faith. When we understand it we can explain it to those who ask. It is not about "winning" or about converting someone else. Fr. Paul says, "Conversion is HIS job" as he turns to point to the Crucifix in the church.

It is a series of nine thin booklets and a laminated verse finder sheet. Each booklet is under $5. It is the best $35 I've spent recently.

The one other area that needs mentioned again is the concept of our sinful nature and original sin. So many Catholics have lately espoused near unitarian beliefs: "A truly loving God could never punish us for our sinfulness". The concept of "Sacramental Forgivness of Sins" and the need to receive that sacrament has been set aside by many practicing catholics.

This makes it easy for so many nominal Catholics to ignore the recent spectacle of a rebelious nominal Catholic publicly desecrating the reception of the Eucharist.

May God guide you and lead you to the exact lessons your community needs.

Adult Faith Formation is a very broad topic, covering the on-going conversion of all of us as well as "initial formation."

I think that a balance of practice and belief is what meets people's needs. Scripture is important.

The premise of the rites of Christian Initiation is that liturgy is formative, too, something that hasn't been well fleshed out in most places.

Another premise of the rites is inquiry, that people bring questions from their lives and experience.

What I'm trying to say is, it's not a matter of finding the right book. It's more a matter of the parish team being the right sorts of people.

Fr. Jeff, all of the above comments have been right on target. I went through St. Edward's RCIA program many years ago. I think Scott Hahn's books would be very helpful. Apolegetics would also be very good because many people truly don't understand the basic tenets of the Catholic Faith. I have heard many bishops and priests on EWTN lament over the lack of good religious education over the last 30 years. We need the basics!

BTW, is Deacon Ernie still there?

Yes, Deacon Ernie is still here and he ran RCIA all by himself for 22 years. He just retired and that is why there is no program in place. I hope to do a Team approach.

Just please, oh please, don't use the Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism. It talks about Madonna as an example of a faithful Catholic, says that fasting before mass is an optional devotion, implies that birth control is okay, and translates "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" as "I am sorry, I am sorry, I am heartily sorry."

One interesting thing that I saw in RCIA was an inability to think in or process religious metaphor (as used in the bible, spiritual writings, homilies, etc.) from those who had been raised without any faith. Not sure if there's any solution other than the passage of time, but it's fascinating to think about from the perspective of the human mind. (Frustrating to work with from the perspective of the instructor.)

I like your thinking about Adult Formation and the may be influencing your friends in Gilbert, AZ. In our RCIA, we invite a Catholic doctor who is also a deacon to speak about prolife issues, not just abortion, but truly from womb to the tomb and we also invite a married couple who have been trained by Couple to Couple league to present an introduction to NFP.Really important to use a couple and not just a woman on this topic, men need the roll models.
We are looking for someone that can do a great summary on Theology of the Body. One of our associated did this for us, but he was moved this summer and made a pastor of three communities in the north country. I also like the Beginning Apologetics books, especially #1 for an introduction to apologetics and order a combination of the different books to get a great 40% discount. Two videos I recommend are Real Presence (which includes the story of Maximillian Kolbe) and Modern Marian Apparitions, the new series from Ignatius on Peter, Mary, Jesus filmed in the Holy Land are also excellent.

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This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on August 21, 2004 3:35 PM.

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