Me a People"
was the national conference I attended in Orlando, FL January 10th
-12th. The three day conference focused on lifelong learning and whole
Keynote speakers, breakout sessions/workshops, quality music, prayer and
Eucharist gave format and vitality to the subject of lifelong community
What does whole parish catechesis look like? Well, for the 100 of you
who attended the parish potluck and pre-Lenten event…it looks just like
that experience. Adults, youth, and children all come together for a
common experience of faith. Common prayer and age appropriate learning
provide the community with a way to articulate and enliven the Gospel in
a different way.
What makes whole parish catechesis special? It is not that it is a new
concept that makes it of merit, but that it is something very old to be
valued. The practice of learning as a community is something as ancient
as Jesus himself. It is the way that the Church began.
Dr. Thomas Groome, one of the keynote speakers, said that “community and
catechesis is an idea whose time has come – again.” This is not
something new to be learned but something ancient to uncover and
discover once more. It is not only a way to teach, it is the way to be
Christian. We can’t be Christian without community. Our entire
understanding of faith is based on the notion of living for one another,
not for self.
Reflecting on this notion of a life-long community formation begs the
question: Could we engage people (more people) with models of formation
and education that allow multi-generations to come together to learn,
share, and grow in faith? This does not mean we abandon religious
education for our children. That would be irresponsible.
I believe we are called to bring about models of formation that provide
families, youth, children and adults with opportunities to deepen their
faith in creative and inspiring ways.
One of the workshop presenters, Bill Huebsch, summarized that, “The
overall vision and goal of whole parish catechesis is to help people to
deepen their communion with Christ, to help them to grow and sustain the
excitement of that communion with their parish, to lead them to know and
love the poor. Ultimately, the goal is to help everyone live it out in
their daily lives so that they in turn invite others to deeper communion
We know that fewer and fewer Catholics attend mass on a regular basis.
We know that people’s lives are busy, sometimes overwhelming. We live in
a time of global uncertainty. We live in a time when, as Groome said to
those at the conference, we must “create an intentional village to raise
our children.” It makes sense to me that co-joining the formation of
adult, youth and children together is a way to be that intentional
village. I’m very excited about future whole parish opportunities that
will lead us to be life-long learners calling all of us to deeper
communion with Christ.
Sue Schettler, Parish Life Coordinator