This year, I have been dedicating my efforts to building up adult faith formation at Christ the King Parish in Chicago. Our first foray into this area is forming small faith groups for the season of Lent, and I am happy to say that they are getting off the ground as I write this!
Over the past five months or so, I have been meeting with the pastor, Fr. Larry Sullivan, and his staff to do some visioning and planning for adult faith formation. It was the unanimous decision of the planning group (which consists of the pastor, associate pastor, a pastoral assistant, and a parishioner) to begin by implementing small faith groups for Lent 2016, which begins in just a few weeks.
Much credit goes to the parish of St. Barnabas where I consulted last year. They were kind enough to share their materials with me which I shared with you last year. At Christ the King, we looked at these resources and adapted them for a much smaller parish and one that is not at all used to sharing faith at this level and in this manner.
In fact, the pastor shared that his first attempts to share the idea of small faith groups with the parish council and potential group leaders was met with no small amount of hesitation; folks were just not accustomed to the notion of sharing faith with others. Fr. Larry persevered, however, and won over the parish leadership and personally recruited leaders to host seven small groups in the parish for the first four weeks of Lent. The group leaders were trained using materials I provided here on my blog last year.
Last weekend, the priests spoke at all the Masses about the small faith groups initiative, and this weekend is “Sign-Up Sunday.” Our hope is that we will have somewhere between 50 and 70 people participate in small groups during Lent, which would be outstanding for a parish that averages 500 Mass attendees each weekend. The groups will meet in homes for the first four weeks of Lent using the resources that I offered here: Hosting Parish Small Faith Groups—Free Discussion Materials for Lent.
In the next week or two, we will see what kind of response we are getting from the parish, and I look forward to sharing the story.