Monday Message, January 16, 2023

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If you have questions about RCIA, this guide might help. The Rite of Election is on February 26 at 4 PM. If you have young children, under the age of eight, joining the Church with your families, we would encourage you to host the examination of conscience in your parish. We also recommend the Rite of Sending on the morning of February 26 for all of those coming into the Church and coming to the Rite of Election later that day.

For those adults who are already baptized and have received their first communion and are over the age of 18 and seek only confirmation, there is a workshop on April 1 at the Catholic Center. Registration can be found here. These individuals will be confirmed on Pentecost Sunday. If they need to be confirmed earlier because of an upcoming marriage or an opportunity to serve as godparents or sponsor, let us know, and we will find a local confirmation for them to join.

The update to LEAD that was due to drop last Thursday has been delayed until this Tuesday. It will include the opportunity for you to have groups with sub groups. So if you’d like all your faith formation people to be in one group, but then would like to create a sub group for catechists aids, volunteers, hall, monitor, etc., that will be available. You can learn more about it if you’d like to join Carmela (Zoom link) and her first open office hours on Wednesday at 2:00 pm.

If you missed the Institute Update for January 2023 that went out last week, click the link. 

Have all your catechists signed up for the conversations  with the Bishop?

By the way, if you ever miss a Monday message, you can click here to access all past messages.

Save the date. Ministry Day – Saturday, September 30th – All Saints School. Suggest workshop topics or presenters here. 


Continuing our journey to bring Bishop Caggiano’s vision of building a new Catholic culture to life, let us begin to look at how we can adjust our approach to forming the next generation. As mentioned last week, relationship, particularly a personal relationship with God, is key to creating a welcoming faith community. But how can we aid this relationship through faith formation?

First, we must prioritize reaching the heart before the head. Our reimagined approach calls us to help young people build a relationship with the person of Jesus first. It requires us to provide opportunities for young people – and their parents – to encounter and fall in love with the person of Jesus. The desire for knowledge follows.

Prioritizing the heart over the head can be accomplished by adjusting our approach in three key aspects:

From Information to Formation

Too often we hear of parishes reviewing a summary of the Sunday Gospel as a cost-saving initiative. Reading the Gospel is important, but where is the introduction to Scripture? Where is the conversation about the context of what happens when Jesus heals the blind man? Where is the conversation about the impact of the transfiguration on our lives in the 21st century? Where is, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story?” Reading the Gospel together is nice; it is also not nearly enough. Indeed, we must not take the cost-saving way out and thereby cheat the young people out of real formation opportunities.

In order to help youth make the connection from the head to the heart, we must nurture the personal connection Jesus desires with each individual. We need to facilitate encounters – ways in which young people can converse with God – and create environments that enable this connection.

From Boredom to Beauty

One of the many reasons young people disaffiliate from the Church is boredom. After being in school five days a week, sitting in a classroom is only effective for a few. The classroom model has its place, but it cannot become all we do with young people.

Beauty itself, in all its religious formats – paintings, murals, mosaics, sculptures, carvings, stained glass windows, architecture, candle lights, music, hymns – can have a powerful evangelical and catechetical impact.[1]  Through catechesis, the children can be guided to use all their physical and spiritual senses to take in what is physically known, to reveal what is unseen yet experienced through faith.[2]  As Pope Francis stated in Evangelii Gaudium, “Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus.”[3]

From Religious Education to Faith Formation

Religious education, in the way we have come to know it, has a beginning and an end. It has a registration process and a focus on the classroom. It is a program, not a relationship. It is the head, but not the heart.

Faith formation, on the other hand, is a lifelong process. How can we accompany parents as they seek to be the first witnesses the Rite of Baptism calls them to be? How can we help people understand that formation is a lifelong process and the sacraments are moments of grace along the way? How can we develop a relationship with families in our parishes and, at the same time, form the leaders who answer the call to accompany them on this journey?

We must work together to evolve from classroom religious education, focused primarily on cognitive development, to a comprehensive mindset of faith formation — a multi-ministry, multi-component parish approach that is suitable to the needs and capabilities of 21st-century families.

Remember, believing never leads to belonging. No one will find a home in our parishes if they have not yet fallen in love with the Lord. Moving from a head-focused Religious Education to heart-focused Faith Formation will help create the welcoming community where all know they belong.

Thanks again for joining us and we look forward to sharing how we can reimagine faith formation as a lifelong process next week.

[1] Jem Sullivan, “Catechesis and the Arts: Attending to the ‘Way of Beauty,’ International Journal of Evangelization and Catechesis 1:2, p. 145

[2] Sullivan, p. 153.

[3] Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 167.