By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A number of changes will greet participants in the Adult Faith Enrichment program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon this fall – including a new one-day format, new COVID-19 arrangements, new online offerings, and a new program co-ordinator.
Interrupted in the spring and moved online by a global pandemic, the Adult Faith Enrichment program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon resumes Sept. 12 as an in-person one-day program offered monthly at the Cathedral of the Holy Family. The program will also now include several webinars, as well as an opportunity to take additional online courses from the Augustine Institute
Adult Faith Enrichment Coordinator Jenny Petersen has been busy preparing for the new season since beginning her new role in August.
“It has been a big learning curve – but in a good way,” Petersen says with a smile. “I am looking forward to the topics and the themes, and to meeting everyone and journeying together – because ultimately we are going to all be journeying in this experience together and hopefully all coming closer to the Lord.”
Born and raised in Saskatoon, Petersen says that spending nine months in an Emmanuel Community missionary school in Rome in 2013-2014 was a key moment in her own faith journey. Eighteen adults from 13 countries lived at the school in community, celebrated daily Mass together, experienced Eucharistic Adoration, and attending classes with a focus on mission.
“We were really learning to evangelize,” she recalls. “For me that was really a pivotal moment for my faith. I was accepting my faith as an adult… really understating that this is what I want, and really falling in love with Jesus.”
Upon her return to Saskatoon, serving with the Teen Aid chastity education program was another “amazing experience of mission” for Petersen, who has a Bachelor of Education degree, and has also worked as a teacher. She and her husband (who is German) then lived for a few years in Germany, before returning to Saskatoon.
“I had the same desire when I returned: to be working for the Church, but also for evangelization, and then I came across this role of coordinating Adult Faith Enrichment in the diocese,” she said. “I am very excited for this new opportunity to work with adults and adult faith formation.”
Previously known as Lay Formation, Adult Faith Enrichment has undergone a number of changes in recent years, including in the long-running program’s content and presentation.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen addressed the changes in an interview earlier this year. “The changes we are seeing relate not only to external circumstances – such as those related to the COVID 19 pandemic – but to ways in which the People of God of our diocese are accessing a variety of activities, supports, and other resources,” the bishop said. “Pastors and parishes are indicating the need for new and diverse ways to access religious education and ongoing formation.”
Changes this fall for the Adult Faith Enrichment program include a shorter time frame. The monthly program will no longer run for an entire live-in weekend at Queen’s House, but will be offered as a day-long Saturday-only session once a month from September to June at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
COVID-19 regulations will also affect such things as meal preparation – with meals individually packaged, and extra attention paid to spacing, seating arrangements, etc. “On the COVID side, it is important for us to adhere to what the government is asking (in terms of numbers and distancing),” says Petersen. “But the silver lining in having a smaller group is that we have the flexibility to still meet in person.”
Petersen plans to continue with many of the familiar elements and themes of the Adult Faith Enrichment program, with a continuing focus on community, the sacramental life, theology and scripture. Although the result will be a “jam-packed” Saturday, that includes breakfast, lunch and supper together, as well as information sessions and prayer, Petersen expresses her hope that the faith enrichment experience will be “truly beautiful and rich for the participants.”
This year, participants will also have access to a number of webinars, as well as the ability to take online courses from the Augustine Institute to supplement intellectual pursuits in theology and the new evangelization, “with an opportunity to have more content, aside from the times we are actually meeting.”
“The Adult Faith Enrichment program helps adults enter into their faith more deeply,” describes Petersen. “For me, part of the vision for Adult Faith Enrichment is to have a missionary and evangelistic perspective as well. We come and we receive, but we also go out, because that is what our world needs, that is what our Church needs.”
Petersen expresses her hope for the program: “Ideally the people that are coming to the program are falling in love with Jesus, and falling in love with his Church, and they are bringing that out to their families, to their communities. For me that would be the real vision of Adult Faith Enrichment.”
Editor’s Note: It was recently announced that several spaces have opened up in the Adult Faith Enrichment program offered monthly at the Cathedral of the Holy Family. Those interested can join Year 2 participants in the program of faith enrichment, prayer and learning – it is not necessary to have completed Year 1. In addition, new material has been added for those who may have previously participated in Lay Formation. For more information about joining the Adult Faith Enrichment program in 2020-21 contact Jenny Petersen at (306) 659-5846 or firstname.lastname@example.org