After more than 25 years in catechetical ministry, I started to look back on what was asked of me in five different parishes over those years. Some of the answers were to reorganize, create permanent records, minister to families, and all the rest of what we do. At each parish, however, something else happened: the numbers of families joining the program grew; the number of families “coming home” to the Catholic Church grew. What was causing this “bonus” effect of parish growth?
I am very aware that the Lord has called me to evangelize. So when I was asked to assist the pastor in evangelizing the parish through faith formation, it was very easy to accept the challenge. How would that happen? First, I needed to acquire a religion series that would bring the children and their families closer to Jesus. For us that meant Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts. Second, I needed to look back and discover what caused the “bonus” results mentioned above. Third, would it still work?
Analysis of the last several years in ministry uncovered the key: reviewing and renewing the program as it was unfolding. While DRE at each parish I would train the catechists in the series used and always took time to share the vision and their sense of the parish family and what we needed to do to evangelize. Throughout the year, other gatherings took place to analyze what was working and what was not. Before the next faith formation season would begin, we would meet again to look at each grade level, each catechist’s strengths and weaknesses, each success or non-success (There are no failures.) in working with the series or optional materials, and generally how we all felt about the season that was ending.
I did not realize then what impact this process would have until this last position. Why? Because I continued this process and recognized that I was adjusting areas of the program as needed. I was reviewing regularly and renewing goals, formation of catechists, areas of strength and growth, and the vision of the program. Making the time to do this brought the “bonus” results of parish growth.
How have you seen beneficial effects from regularly reviewing and renewing your faith formation program?
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