In considering how best to ensure the vibrancy of the faith for future generations, we have only to look to our catechetical and lay faith formation ministry. In his 2013 series on the New Evangelization, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., affirmed the important goal of lifelong faith learning, in order for parents to effectively raise their children in the Catholic faith, and for adult Catholics, in general, to be able to have a mature understanding of their faith.
Pointing to the prevailing culture that sees Confirmation as “graduation” from faith formation, the Bishop noted that some Catholic homes do not provide encouragement or examples to children in continuing their faith education or participating in faith‐based activities. He writes, too many “Catholic children grow into Catholic adults with an eighth‐grade understanding (or less) of their faith.” He echoes what St. Augustine once observed: “No one can give what he/she does not have.”
Moving past this cycle will require a concerted effort of bolstering parish catechetical programs and adult faith formation efforts. Specifically, with the resources of the campaign, the Diocese will create a restricted endowment fund, income from which will support and promote the following goals:
- Catechists and Catechetical Leaders ‐‐ Currently only 30% of catechists have participated in the diocesan catechetical certificate program. Our goal is that all catechists work toward full certification. We will expand educational advancement for our catechetical leaders that they might attain a Master’s degree in theology or religious education.
- Parish Adult Faith Formation ‐‐ By training adult faith formation teams, and working with parishes to either strengthen existing programs or create new ones, we aim to ensure that every Catholic will have the opportunity to deepen their faith education in a way that works with their busy lives. We will provide for the ongoing opportunities for lifelong faith learning, cultivating a new culture in which more Catholics are drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ in which they make the Gospel their way of life.
- New Evangelization –The mandate of the New Evangelization ‐‐ new in its methods, expression and passion – calls the Church to a more intentional and robust outreach in the mission of forming disciples.
Here in the Diocese, we will develop a comprehensive network that takes the best of parish evangelization ministry and builds on it, empowering every parish community across our four counties to deepen the spiritual lives of its people, to reach out to those who have left the Church, and to invite and prepare all those who are coming to the faith for the first time.