Photo by James A. McBride
“It is now possible to provide faith formation, to deliver religious content, to engage people in a wide diversity of programs, activities and resources, 24/7/365,” John Roberto of Vibrant Faith Ministries said in a presentation, “Reading the Signs of the Times,” April 17 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Sicklerville.
SICKLERVILLE — “We are living in a historical moment of transformations in religion, technology, generations, culture and society,” said John Roberto, presenter of “Reading the Signs of the Times,” here at St. Charles Borromeo Parish on April 17.
The all-day event brought together 100 parish ministry leaders from the Diocese of Camden to listen to Roberto’s energetic and informative guidance on creating effective faith formation programs for the changing culture.
Roberto works on the staff of Vibrant Faith Ministries as the project coordinator for the Faith Formation for the 21st Century and the Faith Formation Learning Exchange website. He also directs Lifelong Associates and is editor of the journal Lifelong Faith and coordinator for the Faith Formation 2020 Initiative.
In his PowerPoint presentation, Roberto spoke of the five generations in society: the IGeneration, born in 2000 and later; Millennials, 1980-99; Generation X, 1961-79; Baby Boomers, 1946-60; and Builders, born before 1946.
With changing church participation patterns in each of these generations, and the growing use of mobile devices, the Internet and social media, parishes have to adapt their ministries.
“The triple revolution of the social network, internet, and mobile devices are coming together, to shift people’s social lives away from densely knit family, neighborhood and group relationships, toward more far-flung, less tight, more diverse personal networks,” he said. “The changing world is putting tremendous pressure on the effectiveness of older models of faith formation.”
Roberto said it is necessary to address the changing world, and contemporary networked society, and bring a lifelong faith approach to individuals with diverse religious and spiritual needs, by bringing the church to where they are.
“It is now possible to provide faith formation, to deliver religious content, to engage people in a wide diversity of programs, activities and resources, 24/7/365,” he said.
Through effective parish websites, with online content, apps, digital resources, audio and video podcasts, and online education, ministries can better evangelize the Catholic faith, he said.
John Roberto “verified that the whole face of society has changed; therefore, the face of parish life has to change,” said Sister Kathy Burton, co-director of the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation for the diocese. “It’s not just (the Camden Diocese), but this is a trend that is happening all over the country.”
The day “offered a framework for parish staffs to develop a process to meet the challenges, to change the ways they think about ministry, and also helped parish staffs…understand that (they) have to understand their immediate culture,” she said.
The day was co-sponsored by the Office of Faith and Family Life Formation and CESF (Continuing Education and Spiritual Formation of Priests).