A Vision for a New Approach
Parents are burdened by the demands of adjusting their work and home lives to an ever-changing set of public safety guidelines and requirements. Children miss seeing their classmates and teachers in person and are probably as fatigued by video conferencing as the rest of us. We don’t know when things will return to normal or what a “new normal” might look like. We know that we can only plan for an extended period of uncertainty.
We also know that we are tasked with catechesis, with passing on faith in the mystery of the Triune God’s plan of salvation for us and our response to the revelation of this plan (see General Catechetical Directory #47). We know, according to St. John Paul II, that catechesis is a moment in the whole process of evangelization (see Catechesi Tradendae #18). We know the essential role the family plays in both evangelization and catechesis, in passing on the faith (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #s 2221-2231).
This present moment in our lifetimes can be viewed as a unique opportunity for the evangelization of the family. In this present moment, we can work together to build up the family, the domestic church. Let’s accompany families in our parishes by walking with them and encouraging them in their journeys of faith, so that they know through us what the Lord meant when he said “My yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:30).
Our parish faith formation offerings have always existed to serve this end – to evangelize and catechize the family and offer everyone support to grow in faith and holiness. Yet the methods and strategies of the last few months and years were not designed to account for these times. We have an opportunity to embrace more fully Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization – new in ardor, methods, and expressions (Address to CELAM, 9 March 1983) specifically in the context of the norms of parish life and elements of our formation programs.
Our goal is “to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today, who are buoyed up by hope but at the same time … oppressed by fear and distress” (Pope St. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi #1). We can show families how “the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #1).
This means we may need to think very differently “so that the church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium #27).
If, as Pope Benedict wrote, “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est #1), then let us now consider new says in which we can embrace what Pope St. John Paul II called our “supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (Redemptoris Mission #3).
We understand the many concerns and questions parish faith formation program leaders are considering regarding what adaptations will be necessary or at least advisable moving forward.
Here are some of the questions we’re getting:
- How do we balance our desire to assist families in passing on the faith against their many curricular and extra-curricular obligations, especially in a time where they may have good reason to wish to avoid regularly gathering in groups?
- What will the guidelines and requirements for gatherings be in the fall, next winter, next spring?
- How do we adapt to these continued changes?
Our team is available to assist you in discussing your goals and available resources at any time.
We strongly encourage you to consider hybrid on-line/in-person, parish/home programming that works toward the goal of equipping and supporting parents as the primary educators of their children in the faith (see Lumen Gentium #11). We believe it is possible to offer content that helps build engagement among families in the life of faith at home and that this goal should be foremost among the goals of our children’s faith formation programming.
In support of this goal, we have developed Project Nazareth, a family-based, at-home, faith formation resource available to parishes and families in the Archdiocese of Boston for free in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Please visit projectnazareth.org for more information. In addition, we offer the resource recommendations you will find elsewhere on this page. Lastly, please visit https://www.bostoncatholic.org/virtual-evangelization for more evangelization and formation resources.
In the News
I Have the Perfect Youth Ministry
EDMUND MITCHELL - You read that right. I have the perfect youth ministry. There are only 5 youth in the program, but these kids are gonna change the world. We have a small budget. But, we meet every day of the week. You wanna talk relational ministry? I spend HOURS with these kids.
I’m working with the parents to make sure there is really good catechesis happening in the home. We do social events, retreats, discipleship, and I show them how to pray. Sometimes we have small groups, sometimes I just answer their questions. We go on trips together and share meals together. I post a lot about the program on social media.
The Catechetical Directory and the Ways of Beauty
WORD ON FIRE - The Vatican has released a new directory for catechesis, and while most people can be forgiven in thinking that this might be an updated phone book for catechists, it is actually a guidebook for all involved in religious instruction on how to teach the faith effectively in the new world of the digital age. The English translation of the directory came out on July 20, and we can glean some insight into its basic approach from the press conference remarks made by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Parishes face new challenges as millennials avoid marriage, family life
While new programming can be one solution, he said the ultimate factor will be parents who are intentionally involved in the formation of their children and who “model what they want their children to practice.”
“Without that, no other program or anything is going to make a difference. The crucial actor is the parents,” he said. “If you find committed strong Catholic kids, you’re almost going to certainly find they had parents that were really invested, that made this a priority, and it carried on to the next generation.”
Look for additional resources on our Virtual Evangelization page.
*Resources are listed alphabetically by title in each category.
First Communion and First Penance
- Blessed from Dynamic Catholic
- Also available in Spanish
- Signs of Grace from the Augustine Institute
- Also available in Spanish
- Chosen from Ascension Press
- Decision Point from Dynamic Catholic
- Greater Retreat from ProjectYM and Ablaze Ministries
- Purpose from LifeTeen
- The Wild Goose
Family Faith Formation
- A Family of Faith from Sophia Institute
- Celebrating Sunday for Catholic Families from Liturgy Training Publications
- Discover from St. Mary’s Press
- Project Nazareth from the Archdiocese of Boston
- Summit from LifeTeen
Adult Faith Formation
- Discipleship Quads from Steubenville Conferences
- NextStep from Evangelical Catholic
- Summit from LifeTeen
- The Institute for the New Evangelization
- Word on Fire Institute
Children’s Faith Formation
- Catholic Brain
- My Catholic Faith Delivered (Ignatius Faith & Life)
- Wanderlight Game from Loyola Press
Learning Management Systems
Ministry with Persons with Disabilities
*Please note that this list only includes resources specifically recommended by the Archdiocese of Boston and is not a comprehensive list of all available resources. We are aware that additional resources are rapidly becoming available on-line and we are working to review them as quickly as possible. For more information or to make a request or recommendation that a resource be added to this list please contact Patrick Krisak at [email protected] or 617-746-5753.
- You can’t love what you don’t know. And if you don’t know the fundamentals of the Catholic faith, it’s difficult to know and love God — and it’s nearly impossible to share your faith with others.
- The Institute for the New Evangelization exists to help equip Catholics in New England who want to embrace the missionary nature of the Christian life with in-person CERTIFICATE classes in:
- Catholic Theology (in English and Spanish)
- Youth Evangelization
- Marriage and Family Life
- Catholic Evangelization
- Certificates are live classes held in the Boston area and in Providence.
- Click the link above to register for upcoming certificates, workshops, and more!