By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A flexible program of varied offerings focused on evangelization and mission characterizes the new Adult Faith formation and enrichment initiative released this fall in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
It marks a new direction for the diocese, evolving after a long discernment about the necessity of focusing on evangelization and mission, and finding new ways to meet the evolving needs of adult Catholics expressing a need and a desire to grow in their faith. The new model of formation takes the place of earlier programs that required longer-term commitment from participants, including the Adult Faith Enrichment program that concluded in June, and the Lay Formation program that it replaced.
Identified by three elements of “Proclaim – Awaken – Encounter, ” the new Adult Faith program in the diocese includes initiatives to help parishes and individuals evangelize (“Proclaim”), four-session modules of formation related this year to prayer, to liturgy and sacrament, and to ministry (“Awaken”) and a number of larger group events designed to equip and inspire Catholics as missionary disciples (“Encounter”).
Adult Faith initiative in the diocese: rcdos.ca/Adult-Faith
“The proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ – His word and life – awakens in each of us our hunger and thirst for abundant life, which is nurtured and strengthened by prayer, community, ongoing catechesis and formation, and service to others,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in a message for the launch of the new Adult Faith initiative, with its focus on mission.
“I am excited and eager to continue to support our clergy and laity as this Gospel mission calls each of us to a renewal of heart and life, that both deepens our union with the Lord, and inspires us to bring to bear the Good News on our world of today,” said Hagemoen.
Marilyn Jackson, Director of Ministry Services for the diocese, recently described the evolution of the new vision for Adult Faith formation and enrichment in the diocese. “A discussion group was created earlier this year, made up of representatives from parishes of all sizes from across the diocese, including clergy, religious and parish leadership,” she said.
“This group was tasked with reviewing the current model of adult faith formation and assessing the needs of adults in both rural and urban parishes. What we heard over and over was that the faithful of our diocese value good catechesis and building community,” Jackson said.
“Catholics across the diocese are telling us that they want to move beyond talking about evangelization and are ready to embrace the practical ‘how to.'”
The “Proclaim” portion of the new Adult Faith format is a movement in which Evangelization and Mission Leader John Hickey will accompany both parishes and individuals in “discipleship making” in a process of evangelizing and “multiplying missionary disciples,” through the development and nurturing of small faith communities, she described. (For more information about the Proclaim movement, contact John Hickey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 306-659-5847.)
Four-session “Awaken” events offered three times a year will provide instruction grounded in Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with participants able to choose to take part in one or all of the modules, Jackson said.
The upcoming “Awaken” events include a “School of the Word” prayer formation series to be presented by the Verbum Dei Sisters from 7-9 p.m. on the four Tuesdays in October on Zoom or in-person at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
Described as a “School of Prayer Formation for all who wish to learn how to pray with the Word of God in a meditative-contemplative way,” the four-part series Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26 includes one-hour of formation/instruction on the four basic steps of praying based on Sacred Scripture (adapted Lectio Divina), followed by personal time with guided mediation and/or contemplation of a specific Scripture passage and small group sharing. (Registration: LINK)
- Nov 16: You Got Booked! with Dianne Anderson, coordinator of Restorative (prison) Ministry – a tool to teach about the criminal justice system and how it impacts people in different ways. Participants travel around a live-sized game board trying to build resources and avoid prison. The goal is to inform and to provide ideas and tools to advocate for change.
- Nov. 23: Evangelization and the Mission of the Church with John Hickey from the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis – which will explore how Catholics are called to participate in the Church’s mission of evangelization, offering practical insights into sharing faith, reaching people “where they are at” to assist in encountering Jesus and creating missionary disciples.
- Nov. 30: Palliative Care & End-of-Life Issues with Jacqueline Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy , will offer information and education around end-of-life issues and caring for others. The goal of this session is to raise awareness about what some experience at the end-of-life and how the power of human presence can make a difference.
- Dec. 7: Kairos Blanket Exercise with Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace – The Kairos Blanket Exercise was developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators. It is an interactive and experiential teaching tool that explores the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the land we now know as Canada.
After Christmas, the “Awaken” element of the Adult Faith program will include four sessions on Catholic Liturgical and Sacramental Life presented by Fr. Geoffrey Young weekly from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1 on Zoom or in-person, addressing topics of “Why worship?”; the Church: model and mission; “A Sacramental People”; and the call to holiness. (Registration: LINK)
Finally, the Adult Faith program’s “Encounter” element features larger group events “to help create an environment for growth in discipleship and holiness,” says Jackson. This year, the “Encounter” offerings will include a Transform Conference held Oct. 22-23 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon. Speakers include Eric Chow of the Archdiocese of Vancouver and Eric Myatt, Canadian regional coordinator at Divine Renovation. (Registration: LINK)
“Encounter” events scheduled for the New Year include a diocesan-wide Lenten Retreat March 20 at Queen’s House in Saskatoon, and a speaker/dessert night April 28 entitled “Flourish.”
The new vision for Adult Faith offerings in the diocese was developed in light of the goals of the diocesan Pastoral Plan and its vision to “Proclaim Christ and the Kingdom of God Today,” stressed Jackson.
“The Pastoral Plan is the lens through which we should view everything that we do in the diocese. Our formation is not about programming, process or strategy but about striving to be holy and holiness is more about perseverance than perfection,” she said.
“The Church exists to evangelize and every one of us has a unique role to carry out.”