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Lifelong Learning


"Fashion 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 parish catechesis.

Keynote speakers, breakout sessions/workshops, quality music, prayer and Eucharist gave format and vitality to the subject of lifelong community formation.

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 as well.”

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



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