By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent
The bulk of Catholic education for most Catholics happens in childhood and the teen years, spanning the years of sacramental preparation. It’s easy to forget, however, that faith formation isn’t meant to end with the schoolroom.
In fact, learning about and growing in faith is something intended to continue throughout our lives – a journey toward closer and closer relationship with God and his Church.
“Adult Faith Formation by which people consciously grow in the life of Christ through experience, prayer, reflection and study, must be the central task of the catechetical enterprise.” (“Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Providing a healthy AFF ministry, however, can be a daunting undertaking for a parish community. With that in mind, the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life’s Ministry of Adult Faith Formation will sponsor a three-session AFF training, titled “Isn’t it time to get Adult Faith Formation Ministry going in your Parish?”
Sessions will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 14, April 21 and May 5 at the Diocese of Trenton Chancery, 701 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville. Each session will have a different focus and presenter, all addressing various aspects of AFF Ministry:
April 14 • “Jumpstarting Adult Faith Formation Ministry in Your Parish”; Gary Maccaroni, pastoral associate, St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville
April 21 • “Nuts and Bolts of Developing a Parish Adult Formation Ministry”; Nanci Bachman, pastoral associate, St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction
May 5 • “Creating and Facilitating Small Faith Communities”; Barbara Rookey, director of religious education, Assumption Parish, New Egypt
“It promises to be a day full of learning and sharing opportunities,” said Laura Rivas, associate director of Adult Faith Formation for the Diocese. “In this training you will find ways for making your Adult Faith Formation ministry a success by enriching the faith of your adult parishioners.”
The diocesan AFF Ministry strongly encourages participants take all three sessions to receive a letter of completion at the end, and recommends that parishes sends a group of their key leaders to the training, so they will be able to support one another in the AFF mission. The sessions were developed, Rivas said, as a response to many parishes that lack sufficient resources, staff and training in Adult Faith Formation.
“The overall goal of every parish should be to work toward creating a community where Adult Faith Formation is central, and where lifelong formation is encouraged,” she explained. “United under the leadership of the Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., our mission is to serve the AFF needs of the Catholic Church here in our Diocese. We will strive to prepare and support all those called to ministry in AFF by providing training, ongoing guidance, resources, and programming.”
“Adults are searching for community and a sense of belonging,” said Rookey, presenter for the May 5 AFF session on small faith communities. “Small faith-sharing groups are one of the easiest ways to bring people together to learn from and evangelize one another.”
Developing a “permanent catechesis for adults” Rookey believes is the most pressing need of parishes. “Creating a learning congregation, one in which all parishioners are committed to ongoing growth in their faith, will take commitment and a team approach,” she explained. “No one... can accomplish this alone.”
Bachman, presenter for the April 21 session, believes that Adult Faith Formation ministry can be a source of support for parish clergy.
“[AFF] helps adults deepen our faith and relationship with Jesus, supports active membership in the community and teaches us how to live out our mission of service,” Bachman said. “With so many demands on the pastor today, AFF can assist with evangelization by helping adults understand our role [which will] shore up the health of the Church.”
Cost for each participant is $10 per session. Online registration is available at dioceseoftrenton.org/aff-events. Registration may also be mailed, including check payable to the Diocese of Trenton, to Diocese of Trenton, Department of Evangelization and Family Life, Attn: Maria Guzman-Paczkowski, 701 Lawrenceville Road, Trenton NJ 08648.
For more information, contact Laura Rivas, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-403-7132.