One of the traps we often fall into when approaching adult faith formation opportunities is thinking that we have to do it on our own, in isolation from other neighboring parishes. In reality, just the opposite is what is needed: collaboration! Today, when parishes are dealing with limited resources, it may not be practical for every parish to have a full-blown adult faith formation program. Instead, parishes can collaborate on certain aspects of the adult faith formation ministry. For example, it is not uncommon for neighboring parishes to have a combined RCIA. If each parish has only a handful of catechumens and candidates (as well as team members), it makes sense for the parishes to combine so that the experience is richer for all involved. The same can be done with Scripture study, small faith groups, book discussion groups, and so on. Parishes can take turns hosting the meetings/gatherings and sharing the expenses.
I recently had the privilege of experiencing one such example of collaboration between two parishes in Chicago. St. Andrew and St. Benedict (just over a mile apart from one another) collaborated to host a combined parish mission for the Easter season. The pastors and staffs from both parishes worked together to plan for the mission. They agreed on a theme, a format, and speakers. On the Third Sunday of Easter, the mission speakers spoke at all of the Masses to introduce the theme of the mission. I spoke at the Masses at St. Andrew Parish and Sr. Sallie Latkovich, CSJ, spoke at the Masses at St. Benedict. We communicated ahead of time to share our thoughts and approaches on addressing the same theme. The mission presentations then took place on three consecutive evenings (Sunday through Tuesday), all at St. Andrew Parish. (I presume in the future they will alternate locations.) I presented on Sunday and Tuesday and Sr. Sallie presented on Monday evening. We had great representation from both parishes and attendance was solid (100–200 each night).
If you’re interested in learning more about how these two parishes went about collaborating on a combined parish mission, contact David Heimann (Pastoral Associate, St. Andrew Parish).
Here is a picture of the crowd engaged in small group discussions after my presentation on Sunday evening.