Faith Formation: Why a Parish Priority?
To touch and transform people through the Good News of the Gospel is the goal of all faith formation. But why be specific and target adults? They should already “know it all.” After all many of them were “raised” in the Faith. And what exactly do we mean by the word “formation?”
Our first experience with the Faith and Church was in our families. Our parents didn’t sit us down for classes, but instead we learned by being with them, listening to them and watching them. We learned the meaning of unconditional love the first time we did something wrong, yet we knew our parents still loved us.
Jesus taught by walking the road with his disciples. He ate, traveled and prayed with them. In the story of Jesus’ encounter with the two down-hearted disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35,) we see two people lifted to great joy just by breaking open Scripture with this “stranger” as they walk.
The Bishops have concluded “Adult faith formation, by which people consciously grow in the life of Christ through experience, reflection, prayer, and study, must be ‘the central task in this catechetical enterprise,’ becoming ‘the axis around which revolves the catechesis of childhood and adolescence as well as old age.’ This can be done specifically through developing in adults a better understanding of and participation in the full sacramental life of the Church” (General Directory for Catechesis, n. 275.)
We all learn and experience things differently. That is why the parish offers so many different types of opportunities for faith formation. You will find lectures on faith issues, sacramental sessions for parents, small faith groups, service opportunities, liturgies, prayer opportunities, etc. for the adults as well as the youth of our parish.
Only an adult community whose faith is formed, strong and alive, can pass that faith onto its children. Adults witness through their actions every day to the next generation. First we must from adults of faith and our youth will follow.