Today I had the pleasure of meeting with the staff at St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago where I will be assisting in adult faith formation! They were very warm and welcoming and we enjoyed spending about an hour together during which time I introduced myself to them and articulated my goals for working with them on adult catechesis and reporting on my blog. We then engaged in some give and take as they asked some questions and articulated some of their own goals for taking AFF to the next step.
The pastor, Fr. Bill Malloy (in the center of the pic in the white shirt), is one of the most gracious men I have every met (I knew him from his previous pastorate at St. Germaine Parish in Oak Lawn, IL). He articulated a desire to “resurrect” an initiative he began a couple of years back in which he and another pastoral staff member gathered for dinner with parishioners who lived on the same block, in hopes of reaching out to those whose ties to the parish had weakened. He would like to re-design it so that the focus is equipping those who attend with some skills for evangelizing their neighbors.
The DRE, Matt Furjanic (far right in the pic), whom I’ve known for many years, identified intergenerational events and sacramental preparation meetings for parents as a couple of areas where he would like to “take things to the next level.”
Fr. John Hetland, the Associate Pastor (2nd from the right), described how he would like to explore ways to keep the flame alive for those who participate in the Christ Renews His Parish program. (Anyone out there have some experience doing follow up after CHRP?) He is also interested in establishing a Men’s Ministry with a focus on spirituality and faith formation.
Maryellen Harrington (3rd from the left), who is both the youth minister and liason for Adult Faith Formation in the parish, talked about how the parish would like to build upon the success of small faith groups that formed during Lent last year. She convenes the Adult Faith Formation commission for the Parish Pastoral Council and this is a group that I hope to meet soon and get to know/brainstorm with. A major concern expressed by Maryellen is that AFF tends to be event-driven and that the parish needs to develop a vision for adult faith formation that permeates the parish.
This was a very exciting experience for me and I got the impression that the staff was very enthusiastic about this opportunity to put our heads together and explore the challenges and opportunities of adult faith formation in the parish. I am very grateful for this opportunity!
Lots more to come!