Parish leaders across our diocese have identified one of our chief pastoral challenges to be the effective teaching and learning of our Catholic faith. From baptism, we each have both the privilege and the obligation to share the light of the Gospel with others - to be evangelizers in the name of Jesus Christ. However, we cannot share the Catholic faith if we do not know the faith ourselves.
Often adults find themselves in the position of being devoted to the faith but not being able to speak about being Catholic in adult terms. Family transmission of the Catholic faith from one generation to the next can suffer when parents are not as well equipped as they could be to face the important responsibility of forming their children in the faith.
We are about to undertake an effort in our diocese which will, I hope, involve thousands of us in learning to better meet this catechetical challenge. This week, information sessions will be held in four locations in our diocese to introduce priests, parish life coordinators and parish leaders to Why Catholic? Why Catholic? is a process of adult faith formation and evangelization covering the basic teachings of the Catholic Church in terms of what we believe and how we worship, live and pray. Designed to be a four-year process, the program provides direction for strong catechesis in the faith, as well as evangelization outreach, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Why Catholic? is designed to invite participation by as many adults as possible in small groups where our faith can be learned and shared, where participants can encourage each other to pray, worship and put faith into action in daily living. Materials will be provided for use in families. Diocesan-wide retreat days will be planned to reinforce the work done in the small groups. Materials are available to facilitate the weekly meeting of groups for several weeks in the fall and spring, for several years, exposing participants to a broad outline of the basics of the Catholic faith.
All of this will take some organizing ahead of time, and that effort begins this week with the information sessions. I plan to be at each of them, and I ask that every parish be represented. Once parish leaders learn the broad parameters of this effort, they will be asked to send parish leaders and facilitators to training during the winter and spring. We will then be prepared to offer an invitation to all of our adult parishioners to participate early next fall. You all will receive much more information as time goes on. I wanted to give you this preview so that you can pray with me for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this effort.
During these final days of the liturgical year, the church encourages us to prepare to meet the Lord when he comes again. Are we sure we know who Jesus really is, this One for whom we are preparing? Do we know what he has called us to be doing in preparation for meeting him and entering our eternal home?
I imagine that most of us are not as well equipped to answer those questions as we should be. We will have the opportunity to come to a deeper knowledge and love for the Truth over the next several years. That Truth is Jesus our Savior, the one whose coming we await in the Catholic Church.