Tag Archives: Year of Faith

Lent, the Year of Faith, and an unusual time for the Church

Lent feels somewhat different this year, somehow more intense and real. When the Holy Father made his announcement, one thing that struck so many of us was how much more intensely we need to pray for him, for the bishops, and for the whole Church. For me, it was a bit of a wake-up call to the greater sacrifices and prayer we need to contribute to the communion of the Church. I wonder whether this has made Lent, for many of us, a more significant one this year… we have entered it at a seemingly vulnerable time for the Church, yet knowing that Christ is always victorious (as Pope Benedict said to the priests of Rome recently).

Significant, too, is that this situation arises during the Year of Faith, a year of grace during which we return to the vision of the Council, the real Council which has, as the Holy Father also said recently, had “difficulty establishing itself and taking shape”. This Year, the Church is called to recommit to implementing the vision of this real Council. And this involves each one of us renewing our own faith.

Recently I came across this wonderful quotation from a talk given by Dr Caroline Farey, who clearly calls us back to the essence of renewing our own faith:

How is the heart ever going to know what is good if we don’t use our mind to inform the heart? Don’t let anyone say to you, ‘don’t worry about all that study, all you need is to get your heart united to Christ’. Yes, we need our hearts plunged in Christ… be led by Christ but let your mind be led by Christ through the Church so that your heart can follow what is actually good, and not just what is an awful lot of opinions of what must be good… The Catechism is there to help us.”

Renewing our mind through more rigorous study will lead to strengthening our commitment and love this Lent. And this is surely what the Lord and the Church need from us at this time: greater commitment and love.

Advertisements

School of Faith

New year... new energy for adult formation!

New year… new energy for adult formation!

I’m remembering all too vividly this time last year and the spectacularly excited lead-up to the beginning of the Catholicism course we ran at the Centre for Catholic Formation in Tooting. The phone was ringing off the hook, I was desperately searching for more small group leaders, it became much bigger than I anticipated – but it was definitely what God had in mind! This year, for the Year of Faith, we wanted to run a series on the Catechism – looking back at my very first thoughts on the Year of Faith this time last year, this is exactly what has come about!

We are delighted to be holding a School of Faith for twelve weeks from Wednesday 9th January to right before Holy Week. Read more about the course here. The course is based on the first module of Maryvale Institute’s Certificate in Studies in the Catechism. Each week, an acclaimed speaker will teach on the topics as we take an in-depth journey through the first sections of the Catechism (up to the Fall). This is an opportunity for adults to dive deeper into the riches of our Faith in an intelligent and attractive way. We have invited some of the best teachers of the Catholic Faith to deliver this teaching, in what promises to be a rich and nourishing series of adult formation.

Each evening includes a delicious hot buffet supper, times of prayer, teaching from speakers such as Dr Petroc Willey, Dr Caroline Farey, Bishop Philip Egan, Fr Tim Finigan and Fr Stephen Wang, to name only a few. Each week also gives the opportunity to meet in small groups led by experienced catechists to deepen understanding of the teaching and discover how it applies to our everyday life of faith. The School of Faith is not a series of lectures, but a series of growing deeper in our faith and closer to Christ in the community of the Church. Every week will be geared towards this goal. Last year, we found that many of the small groups became true communities, and some even still meet now, a year on. Deepening our faith in Jesus can only result in communion with each other.

If you would like to join this course, there are only a few spaces left. We are expecting a surge of bookings when the Centre re-opens on Monday so do book yourself a place quickly: 020 8672 7684 or office@ccftootingbec.org.uk.

Finally – I am looking for our last few small group leaders. Most of them come from our wonderful parish, but with many people already giving weekly catechesis we are stretched! You do not necessarily need experience of this; we are looking for two things: that you know and understand the Faith well (although any unanswered questions can be put to the speakers at the end), and that you are a ‘people person’, someone who would be able to guide discussion. (Training will be provided for leaders too!) Last year, a couple of leaders came through this blog, so please do get in touch if you feel you can help in this way (please leave your email in the comments) and I will get in touch (and quiz you on the Catechism 😉 – joking!)

Please keep this course and everyone on it in your prayers.


October

Dear readers, it’s that busy Autumn term again and I’ve been out of the blogging loop. This past month I have been…

Sadly not eating too much apple pie…

  • Launching a formation course for new catechists in our deanery/area
  • Teaching some inspiring young people from Salisbury about how they can be great catechists
  • Missing the heat and my friends of Kansas City, Kansas 😦
  • Planning a series on the CCC for January onwards… (watch this space!)
  • Geeking up on teaching strategies and classroom management in this brilliant book
  • Enjoying a delicious luncheon with the Catholic Women of the Year
  • Crying as I saw Dr Caroline Farey receive the message for catechists from the Pope – and knowing that she was praying for all of us catechists
  • Burrowing away in the library working on the literature review for my dissertation
  • Taking advantage of the wonderful Wholefoods store which is even more wonderfully near the library I’ve been using
  • Meeting the new students at SPES and giving them an introductory lecture on prayer
  • Receiving an email each day with a little chunk of the Catechism, specially for the Year of Faith
  • Reading this fantastic book with my book club
  • Seeing for myself that Come Follow Me really does work as amazingly effective children’s catechesis
  • Making Delia’s yummy cottage pie with cheese-crusted leeks
  • Hanging out at the new Vocations Centre for the Archdiocese of Southwark
  • Embarrassing my 16-year-old brother by weeping as he starred as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
  • Wondering whether I’ll need to take out a loan for the number of weddings I’ve been invited to next year

…and relishing my time with family and friends, which, after all, is what life is mostly about 🙂

What’ve you been up to? Share in the comments!


Discerning what the Year of Faith invites us to…

How nice to return to (almost) normal life! There’s something lovely about being in your own parish for Mass, getting into a regular routine at the gym, and seeing friends again. Travelling always opens my eyes, clarifies my vision, sparks my imagination, and I love how it widens my understanding, how I see reality… But, as Dorothy discovered, there’s no place like home 🙂

Before I went to the States, I had absolutely no idea what we would do in the parish for the Year of Faith, or even if we would do anything extra special at all. Over the past month, I have heard a lot about the Year of Faith. I have seen some seriously amazing plans. I have seen T-shirts and super-cool logos. I’ve heard about live-streaming of lecture series and no end of creative, new ways of transmitting the Faith which have not quite reached these shores…

Wonderful – but I wonder if we can get caught up in the hype of thinking we have to put on something spectacular.

Here are the two most important things I realised:

1. We need to discern, above all, what the Church is calling us to in the Year of Faith.

2. We need to discern what this means for our own parish – what are the greatest needs that we have, and what invitation is the Year of Faith extending to us?

So, I set about number 1 over July. I read Porta Fidei again. I talked with people who are lots more experienced than me. I realised the four, universal crucial elements to which the Year of Faith calls us: (a) Teaching on the Catechism of the Catholic Church; (b) Teaching on the Vatican Council documents; (c) A Holy Hour with the Holy Father for Corpus Christi (let’s not forget this – the Holy Father probably has a very important intention in mind); (d) Making a Profession of Faith.

Then, gradually, as I prayed, and digested all of this, a plan began to emerge in my mind.

Does that ever happen to anyone else?! Or is it only me?

I often have plans emerging in my mind (a real occupational hazard…) and I have to determine which are good, and which are not-so-good. Is this what is most needed? Is it making the best use of our resources? Is it achievable? Is it too ambitious? Is it not ambitious enough?! Ultimately: Is this what the Lord wants or is it what I want? Gradually, as I discuss with others in the parish, and continue to pray, things work out into something real and concrete.

In case you are interested, here are the priorities I think are most important for the Year of Faith in our parish:

  • Catechist formation – this is my number 1! Without it, everything flounders. I hope we will run a new programme of formation for new catechists in the Autumn term
  • Course based on the Catechism (Maryvale’s course in the CCC is the best available, as far as I know, and they are offering the opportunity for people to use it in small study groups – see more on their Year of Faith website)
  • Continue to run ‘refresher’ courses such as Anchor, for those returning to Church or aware of their lack of understanding
  • Following on from our adult formation last year, lots of people wanted to meet more regularly, and so quite spontaneously, small home groups are being formed. They are following books from this series which are proving really fruitful so far
  • Looking at the evaluations from adult formation last year, people would like deeper formation in understanding Scripture – we may perhaps run a short course using the Great Adventure Bible Timeline in the summer term. We already used the teen version with our young people, and it was brilliant
  • As I wrote about in a previous post, we have a full formation programme planned for Confirmation and First Communion parents.

What would be AWESOME is if every adult in the parish chose one means of formation for the year, then everyone came together at the end of the Year of Faith to make their Profession of Faith. In fact, I think Pope Benedict thinks this would be pretty awesome too:

We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. Porta Fidei, 9

One thing’s for sure, though: don’t get in a tizz about doing something spectacular: allow God to be the main protagonist in this year ahead. Let us cooperate with the work he wants to do. And, while we’re discerning what’s right, once again I think these are excellent questions that we can pose to our parish’s formation programmes.


Year of Faith

Beautiful Kansas

In Kansas City, it was almost cool enough to be outside yesterday. It rained a couple of nights ago for the first time in weeks and weeks, and the baked earth gave off heat and a lovely, sweet smell. I love being in Kansas right now; it is a beautiful place to be.

It’s also a great hub of activity in the midst of the Year of Faith preparations. The plans are being organised under three headings: Love It, Live It, Learn It. The Love It plans are to do with liturgy, prayer, and spiritual formation. The Live It plans concern living your faith in the workplace, in marriage, in the public square, and through service of the community. The Learn It plans are to do with evangelisation and catechesis.

The plans are pretty impressive. For the Learn It section, 20 parishes will have a course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church; great resources such as The Great Adventure Bible Timeline and the Catholicism series are going to be available to parishes to show them; there will be a big series of lectures on the four constitutions of the Vatican Council, which will be streamed live into homes around the diocese – people will be encouraged to watch together in small groups. Parishes will be also be trained, with the help of Evangelical Catholic, to form adult small groups that multiply, as an evangelisation initiative for parishes.

At the same time, completely separate from the Year of Faith, we’ve been putting together a promotions strategy for the Maryvale courses – Kansas is a Maryvale Centre and offers Maryvale formation for all their catechists. The plans and ideas for reaching a large number of people for the next cohorts are really exciting.

Olympics Opening Ceremony

And also – I am watching the live stream of the Olympics opening ceremony 🙂 Albeit the streaming comes in and out as there is no US channel broadcasting it live, but, seeing the Queen, London sights, Mary Poppins, James Bond et al… is making me miss my home land! Don’t worry, England, I am coming home to you on Sunday!


In the land of Oz…

Hey y’all 🙂

I can see why Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home” – I arrived a couple of days ago in Kansas City and I’m loving it! No twisters yet, but the family I’m staying with have a couple of dogs remarkably like Toto…

From Pentecost, we wind down in the parish, so I’m using some of the summer this year to come to Kansas City Archdiocese, to their evangelisation and catechesis department, and check out what they do.

Soon after the arrangements had been made, I discovered that the parish of William O’Leary (from Catechesis in the Third Millennium) is also in Kansas City, so I will be meeting him later in the month too. Right now, in a somewhat ironic turn of events, he is at Maryvale!

So, over the next few weeks, there is quite a bit planned: this week, I am hanging out at the diocesan offices, helping out a little bit. This weekend, I’m heading to the ranch (yes, they have a ranch!) for part of the archdiocesan summer camp. Then, next week, as Kansas is home to a Maryvale Centre, there will be an Art, Beauty and Inspiration course, here in the pastoral centre. Next we head to Ohio for the Bosco conference. Finally, we will spend the last week back in the diocese.

Yesterday, I met everyone from maintenance men to HR staff to vicar generals. This is a super friendly place. I love how there are sweets on every reception desk in America 🙂

It is really great to come ‘across the pond’ to discover the many exciting initiatives this archdiocese has going on in the areas of evangelisation and catechesis, and I’ll do my best to share a little bit on the blog of everything I experience over the next few weeks.

Hearing about the projects for the Year of Faith alone blew me away. As well as the countless evangelisation and formation programmes that are being offered, and the brilliant resources that are being made available to people in the archdiocese, they are also working with St Paul’s Outreach to reach young adults and college students. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I had the chance to chat to one of the directors about it on Skype yesterday. A really exciting initiative.

In the UK, people often say we don’t have the people or the resources to do things as well as they are done over here. But, in this evangelisation and catechesis department, there are only three staff members. With real passion and vision, they are managing to make some terrific things happen. It goes to show what can be achieved with some good planning and drive.

The fruits can be seen: Catholic life seems to be really alive around here; it is amazing to see the number of people at 6.30am daily Mass. Back at home, we have a 6.45am Mass which people think is crazy, but 6.30am! These people are brilliant (I’m told that’s a very English word…)

Tomorrow I’ll be spending 4th July with the wonderful family I’m staying with, enjoying hot dogs and fireworks. More coming soon…


Parish Reflection

The US bishops recently published a document on the New Evangelisation: Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelisation. Towards the end of the document are some very helpful ‘parish reflection questions’. These questions would be an excellent springboard for parish reflection and discussion on how to improve our formation within parishes. How would you parish respond to these questions? How can we “re-propose” Christ to people this year?

How can our parishes become more and more places of community and prayer?

Diocesan and parish leadership are encouraged to reflect on the following questions as they prepare pastoral plans aimed at “re-proposing” Christ to the faithful and inviting our brothers and sisters to the Lord’s Table:

• How does the parish community provide people with opportunities for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ?

• In addition to offering sound catechetical instruction in the teachings of the Church, to what extent do faith formation programs have as an objective fostering a personal relationship with Christ?

• What does the parish do to help people deepen their prayer life?

• How has the parish recruited, formed, and supported individuals to be evangelizers through the witness of their lives?

• How are pastors fostering the consciousness of the laity to be evangelizers in the modern world?

• How do pastors engage people during “teachable moments,” such as Baptisms, weddings, and funerals?

• Are there faith formation programs on how to pass down the faith for parents, grandparents, and godparents?

• Are there faith formation programs for adolescents and young adults on how to share their faith with others in college and in the workplace?

• How are pastors supported in their vocation to evangelize?

• Are there ongoing faith formation programs for pastors on homiletics?

• Is there instruction for pastors and parish leaders on how to use social media to reach people?

• What parish-based pastoral programs support people in their everyday lives? Are there programs for the newly married, new parents, divorced, grieving, and unemployed?

• How has the diocese and parish promoted the New Evangelization?