Initiation and Apprenticeship: Into What?

Our catechetical efforts are part of the larger goal of initiating and apprenticing people of all ages into the life of the Church. How often do we sit down, as a Church, and identify just what the “life of Church” means in practical terms? WHAT are we initiating and apprenticing people into? Personally, I feel as though most of our curriculum guidelines are one dimensional, focusing on what one should KNOW. What about what one should BE and DO? Is there something that we can do about that?

In his book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World (Beacon Publishing), Matthew Kelly reveals that typically 7% of Catholic parishioners are “doing almost everything in their faith community and paying almost entirely for the maintenance and mission of the parish.” He then set out to identify what differentiates these 7% from the other 93% of Catholics. He discovered that 4 qualities drive the level of engagement of this 7% of Catholics:

  1. Prayer – dynamic Catholics have a daily prayer commitment
  2. Study – dynamic Catholics are continuous learners
  3. Generosity – dynamic Catholics are generous
  4. Evangelization – dynamic Catholics invite others to grow spiritually by sharing the love of God with them

My contention is that, in our faith formation programs, we focus almost exclusively on #2, and even then, with less than desireable results. What would a curriculum (in its broadest sense) look like that truly initiated and apprenticed people of all ages into a life of prayer, study, generosity (stewardship), and evangelization?  

What are your thoughts?

About Joe Paprocki 2134 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus.

11 Comments on Initiation and Apprenticeship: Into What?

  1. I was intrigued to purchase this book. I can understand the importance of focusing on all four qualities. We strive to address all areas in what is offered through Adult formation and in the programs here in the parish. The struggles are many in getting parishioners to participate:
    1. Too much going on in families – no time for even church
    2. Family focus on sacraments and not continuing faith formation
    3. Low attendance at offered parish events – even when given for free
    4. Competition with outside activities

    I know the above is not new to those providing programs for children, youth and adults. I look forward to reading the book and having other discussions and other comments and suggestions.

  2. Linda writes:

    I have actually been doing this for years – but we have ALOT of money tied up in books and I don’t see RE programs changing any time soon

  3. The book is great! Matthew Kelly’s books are full of material that is rich in opportunties to reflect and to grow in faith. He has a grasp of the wonders and the treasures in the Catholic Faith. He writes of the strengths and weakness in society. His words are truly words of wisdom.

    I think the 4th issue – evangelization – is what the Holy Fathers and the Bishops have been speaking and writing about for decades. We have heard but we are still processing the message.

    I believe we need to ‘go forth’ with personal invitations to pray, to worship and to our own personal sharing about God and where He is in our lives. People especially the children listen to our stories and our experiences. We need to grow in confidence and not be timid about the Presence of God in our lives and in our world.

    Lets get moving!

  4. Year after year we prepare kids for F/Communion & Confirmation and then most of them disappear. Main reason: there is little support from the homes for ongoing catechesis and service/involvement in the church community. The church is like a gas station for many! How can we change the present culture? We are hoping to focus on more adult faith formation in this Year of Faith – just completed a very successful training program with about 30 adults. Hope we can keep the momentum!

  5. My most successful child based programs were the ones that required that adults participate too – sometimes with their own track – sometimes along side their child -busy or not it is indeed their job and telling them so eventually empowers them to be the model of ongoing formation

    the real task actually is to stop focusing on child training and focus on people forming – as a convert – raised as a non practicing anything and having spent adult time in many wonderful Protestant churches – I found my home as a catholic when I was actually old enough to ask my own questions – hunt for my own answers – my son (before life) joined the search – his family came in by way of RCIA – and now the children ages 2-15 do not ask if church – but want their say in which church (a choice from among catholic churches) they attend –

    the family model intentional prayer, family time and work

    3 generations when it didn’t come form “Sunday School” but apprenticed and lived adult faith in action

  6. I am a catechist aide in my parishes re program this year and I have watched my 18 year old lose enthusiasm and love when learning about God. I have a 7th grade son that I see slowly falling away now too…but I have been very devote in observing and learning my faith and I have been filled and guided by the Holy Spirit to make sure I stop this process. How? Simply showing my son and daughter how prayer, helping those in need whether in our church or our community, and sharing God’s word with others on facebook and twitter, family and friends, brings us closer to God. My class and my children know that I get very excited talking about our Lord, I just want to shout from a mountain top telling people to wake up follow our Lord because there is nothing like the peace and love and joy that he fills you with when you have a strong relationship with Him. I have had a break through with the re program at our parish during a meeting with the DRE and we are now in the process of changing how the 6,7, and 8th grade classes will be taught. I have observed that from k-5 grade the children’s hearts are open to God and they love all the information that you teach them. But once you hit 6, 7 and 8th grades the door on our Lord starts to close as they question their faith and are exposed to what the secular society shows them (abortion, gay marriage…) So I pray that the Lord guide us during this exciting time of change in our re program.

      • Hi Mary. I’m not in the position to make changes myself, but as a Church, I would like to see us do more in the way of having our catechetical programs include apprenticeship in prayer and doing works of mercy instead of just talking or reading about them.

  7. Our current approach to faith formation is to get rid of the books! They are on a shelf for reference. We are starting faith formation at 3 years old with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the children are embracing God and teaching us how to be little children. Jr High and High School we have been doing a combination of things: videos, service projects, researching their name saints, performing the Living Stations of the Cross. Children get enough book work in school. We have to give them the practical life lessons of how to live their faith while explaining it to them in the most essential and simplest way. I am hoping to incorporate the same type of program for the adults this fall.

    • Thanks Daphne. This approach works for some but not all. I’m a firm believer in using books as long as they are seen as a tool and not the “be all and end all” in catechesis. Catechists need to have structure and focus for their lessons and textbooks provide that. My goal is always to help catechists teach beyond the book so that, as you say, they are not just getting more book work as in school.

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