When Catholics hear the words faith formation, they often think of the religious education programs (formally called CCD) that our elementary school students experience. But is that what faith formation really is? How would we think of faith formation if the word lifelong were added to faith formation?
Actually, the catechetical vision of the Church from the General Directory for Catechesis calls all of us to be attentive to lifelong faith formation for all ages and generations. Through this vision, lifelong, intergenerational faith formation has the potential to revitalize the faith of parish communities and households of all ages.
To better foster this more expansive thinking of faith formation, the Diocese of Camden is planning a special event, Introduction to Lifelong Faith Formation for the Whole Parish Community, on Thursday, October 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Holy Family Parish in Sewell.
The purpose behind this day-long workshop will be to better equip parish leaders to create lifelong faith formation experiences, events and programs for all ages and generations in their local parish communities. This session will assist the participants in discovering an approach and resources that will lead all of us from vision to reality and open our parishes up to new life in the Spirit.
The program is designed for pastors, directors of religious education, pastoral associates, sacramental prep coordinators, parish family life ministers, Youth Ministry coordinators, and parishioners who believe they would benefit from such faith formation discussions.
Sister Roseann Quinn, SSJ, delegate for Lifelong Formation, reinforcing the importance of this event, said, “Our intention of presenting this session on lifelong faith formation is not only to more comprehensively introduce the broader definition of faith formation as it pertains to all Catholics over the life cycle, but also to change the current perception that faith formation simply involves elementary school students. In reality, faith formation is necessary from baptismal preparation to the end of life.”
The workshop is one element of a major effort underway in the diocese to advance key pastoral priorities identified by parishioners at Speak Up sessions that were held with Bishop Joseph Galante in 2005 and 2006. The six pastoral priorities are: Youth and Young Adults, Lay Ministry, Compassionate Outreach, Liturgy, Vocations and Lifelong Formation.
A reconfiguration of parishes in the diocese was announced in April 2008 in order to strengthen parishes and to ready them to address these pastoral priorities. In conjunction with this, the diocese last fall began a Lay Ministry Formation Program, to help laity engaged in parish work obtain the educational credentials specific to their area of ministry. More than 270 students are now enrolled in the program and will be attending graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs at satellite campuses in the diocese this fall. Upon completion of their course of study, these lay men and women will be ready to assume lay ministry roles in parishes and will help parishes address the key pastoral priorities, including Lifelong Formation.
The presenter for the Oct. 1 Introduction to Lifelong Faith Formation for the Whole Parish Community is Leif Kehrwald, project coordinator for the Center for Ministry Development, is a national leader in parish training in lifelong faith formation. Leif has worked in family ministry and faith formation on the local, regional, and national levels for more than thirty years. Additionally, Kehrwald has published several books and numerous articles on family life, family ministry, marriage, and youth ministry. He has taught courses on family ministry, parish partnership and family spirituality at Dominican University (Chicago), Loyola University (Chicago), University of Dayton, and Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.
Without question, this is a unique opportunity to better prepare ourselves for whole parish community lifelong faith formation. If you have any questions regarding the program or any particulars of the day, please contact Kevin Connor, director of Lay Ministry Formation (856-583-6122; email@example.com) or Mary Lou Hughes, coordinator of Religious Education (856-583-6132; Marylou.firstname.lastname@example.org).
For registration information, contact Nicole Hasson (856-583-6123; email@example.com).
Kevin Connor is associate director of Lifelong Formation and Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Diocese of Camden.