Earlier this week, a group of staff members of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis met for some ongoing faith formation. We call ourselves the Faith Formation Collaborative, and we gather once every-other month, generally to read and discuss a papal or church document. Right now, we are studying Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. The group is made up of representatives from a variety of ministries on the Archdiocesan level – people from many different offices, but all of whom have some connection to faith formation and evangelization. Participants include representatives from Catholic schools, youth ministry, young adult and college campus ministry, ministry to people with special needs, pro-life and family life, evangelization, catechesis, multicultural ministry, and priestly and religious vocations. Many of us don’t necessarily work closely together day by day, but our ministries overlap and are all focused on the same goal – helping people to know, love, and serve the Lord in the Catholic faith. At each gathering, we do give brief updates of major things happening in our ministries, but the heart of our time together is shared, ongoing formation.
Very few people outside our group know that we do this. I imagine some people in our parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis would be surprised to learn that there is such regular contact and communication among people from different Archdiocesan offices. I share this information here for two reasons – 1) it’s good for people to know that these different ministries make an intentional effort to collaborate and communicate with each other; and 2) even more importantly, this group is a model of the importance of ongoing faith formation for everyone, particularly for those in leadership roles in parishes, schools, and agencies in the Church.
Our small Faith Formation Collaborative is but one example of ongoing formation at the Catholic Center in Indianapolis. In recent years, a monthly opportunity for catechesis for all Catholic Center employees has been offered – the Catholicism series by Fr. Robert Barron was offered last year, and this year we are using a program called Oremus, published by Ascension Press, on prayer. Each month, a lunch-time gathering is held that all Catholic Center employees are encouraged to attend to grow in their understanding and practice of the faith.
We all need to regularly be reading, discussing, and reflecting on our faith and on the great wisdom of the entire people of God. It is good for us to study the words of our Holy Father and our bishops. Ongoing formation is so important that the Church requires it for clergy and, by extension, lay ecclesial ministers. We are being intentional about this formation at the level of Archdiocesan staff in Indianapolis. What happens in your ministry to ensure regular catechesis and study?