Who Do You Recruit to Animate Adult Faith Formation? Try a “Regular Guy”

My favorite radio station in Chicago—WXRT, 93.1 FM—features a movie critic who goes by the name of “The Regular Guy.” Since 1984, DJ Marty Lennartz has portrayed a stereotypical gritty Chicagoan giving his take on the current motion picture hits. The bit is brilliant, of course, because listeners fashion themselves as “regular people” who can relate to this movie critic who has no airs about him.

That explains my answer to the question, “Who do you recruit to animate adult faith formation in the parish?” A regular guy or gal! That’s precisely what Christ the King pastor, Fr. Larry Sullivan, did recently as he moved forward with plans for adult faith formation in the parish. He asked around for recommendations from parishioners and landed on a great choice: Mr. Jim Docherty, who is pictured below with Fr. Larry (right).

Jim Docherty

What impressed me most about Jim when I met him was the fact that he is a down-to-earth “regular guy.” He’s a people-person, a family man, a man of deep faith, a “parish guy,” and a motivator. Like all good people called to leadership, he protested a bit, saying that he is not a theologian (although he did have a stint as a religion teacher in a former life!) or a public speaker. We responded, “Good, because that’s not what we’re looking for.”

Jim’s role will be to serve as the chair or animator of a parish adult faith formation team that we will assemble. This follows the vision laid out by our bishops in Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States, which states:

§135 §  Objective Two: Each parish will designate an adult faith formation leader—authorized by the pastor and personally involved in ongoing formation—to assume primary responsibility for implementing the ministry of adult faith formation. Each parish needs a lead agent to take hands-on responsibility “for effectively establishing the overall adult learning context and programming in the diocese/parish.” This person may be a member of the parish staff or a parishioner prepared for leadership in this ministry. While the position may be full-time salaried, it could just as well be filled by a person who donates his or her time for a few hours a week. What is important is that the person have or acquire an adult catechetical vision and competency, be formed by the word of God, and be well versed in and comfortable with current catechetical documents, especially the Catechism and the General Directory for Catechesis. This leader will possess the time, energy, and commitment to drive the adult learning agenda of the parish.

I look forward to working with Jim and the soon-to-be-assembled AFF team and the pastoral staff at Christ the King as we move forward with adult catechesis for the parish.

About Joe Paprocki 2750 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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