Diocesan offices planning events for Year of Faith

On Oct. 11, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio, “Porta Fidei,” announcing the Year of Faith, which would start one year later and end Nov. 24, 2013.

Calling on baptized Catholics to consider their relationship with God, deepen their response to his call, and share the faith with others, the pope reminded the faithful that the renewal of the church is “achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers.”

He added that the Year of Faith is “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world.”

To this end, the Camden Diocese’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, and its various formation offices, is planning a number of events marking the Year of Faith.

– On Tuesday, March 12, the Office of Evangelization is sponsoring a talk by Ralph Martin on “The New Evangelization: Renewed Enthusiasm, Apostolic Zeal, Missionary Impulse, Boldness” at Holy Family Parish in Sewell.

Director of the Graduate Theology Program in Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Martin is president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization, and was recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, which seeks to bring lapsed Catholics back into the pews.

The presentation will help pastors, parish staff, evangelization teams, and parishioners find better ways to help others “in falling back in love with Jesus, and coming back to the church,” said Andres Arango, director of Evangelization for the diocese.

– On Sunday, March 24, the Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministries office will hold its 2013 Diocesan Youth Congress, “Faith Alive,” celebrating Catholic Youth Ministry, from 1-7 p.m. at St. Simon Stock Parish in Berlin.

Hundreds of Catholic youth and adults will be present for the day-long event, which will include a keynote presentation by Ansel Augustine, coordinator for Black Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Greg Coogan, director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministries, called the Year of Faith a “remembrance of the Second Vatican Council and time to celebrate our faith, with an emphasis on evangelization, and inviting people into a deeper relationship with our Lord.”

For youth and young adults, especially, “we need to find new methods, and ways of communicating that (Catholic) message, and invite them to share in this journey.”
The Diocesan Youth Congress will “look at how the young church can live their faith with their hearts, hands, voices, and their witness,” Coogan added.

– On Wednesday, April 17, the offices of Lifelong Faith Formation and Continuing Education and Spiritual Formation of Priests (CESF) are co-sponsoring a talk by John Roberto, “Reading the Signs of the Times,” from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Sicklerville.

Pastors, parish, staff, and parishioners are invited to attend the presentation by Roberto, who has over 40 years of experience in Christian faith formation. He currently works on the staff of Vibrant Faith Ministries, as the project coordinator for Faith Formation for the 21st Century and the Faith Formation Learning Exchange website. Roberto also directs LifelongFaith Associates, and is editor of the journal, Lifelong Faith, and is coordinator for the Faith Formation 2020 initiative.

And later this year, the diocese will be bringing the national program, Strong Catholic Families, Strong Catholic Youth to parish and school leaders and parents in an initiative to examine the ways schools and parishes partner with parents in the faith formation of youth.

Involving the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), and the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM), the program will help parents take responsibility for the faith development of their children, and help parishes and schools in supporting and equipping the parents, in this task.

These programs are all designed with the overall goal of providing faith formation to individuals, from the cradle to the grave.

“Everything we do, at the parish level, is formative, and everything is an opportunity for evangelization,” said Mary Lou Hughes, co-director of the Office of Faith and Family Life Formation.

Hughes added that, in years past, individuals were baptized, married, and were buried in the same parish, never far from their family or church. In today’s culture, though, it is not unlikely for individuals to move away from their family support systems and lose touch with the faith they knew growing up.

“The church needs to be that extended family that support system,” she said.

As well, parishes need to ask themselves, “are we bringing them back to a vibrant, committed community?” said Sister Kathy Burton, co-director of the Office of Faith and Family Life Formation.

“If (Catholic leaders) are passionate about what they believe, others will follow,” Hughes said.

“Whatever we do, has to lead people to Jesus,” said Larry Farmer, director of Mergers, of the Office of Pastoral Planning, which seeks to help parishes address the needs of the faith community, in providing a variety of resources.

During the Year of Faith, on the office’s Harvesting Gifts website (harvesttinggifts.camdendiocese.org), Pastoral Planning will offer a compilation of scriptural passages dealing with faith for parish ministry use and other catechetical resources.

The Year of Faith “is an opportunity to help people grow in their faith, in their recognition of their spirituality. Whatever we do has to lead people to Jesus, and make them aware they are missionaries for Christ.”

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