Faith Formation a Concern Across Irish Dioceses

Jun 16, 2022 | 0 comments

A compilation of references to the need for Faith Formation and Catechesis in Irish diocesan synodal synthesis reports – June 2022.

Achonry

  • “There is need for much better faith formation at all levels – adults and children – with many recommending faith formation be available outside the school setting, especially in the context of sacramental preparation.” (Conclusion)

Ardagh and Clonmacnois

  • (In a list of mission proposals) “2. Youth – offering an experience of faith and church that attracts…. 3. Family – supporting parents to promote faith in the home.” (Discerning Priorities and Next Steps)

Armagh

  • If there was criticism (of clergy) it sprang for the most part from a desire to see the priest and deacon more involved in the community and freer to do the work of faith formation and development that they were ordained to do. (The Journeying Companions).
  • Notably adult faith formation has been given attention through the provision of accreditation in theology, yet these efforts have not borne much fruit in terms of discernment and spiritual practices across the diocese. Greater opportunities need to be provided in parishes for those with a theological qualification and formation. A clear sense of a Church that is clerical and hierarchical has emerged in the consultation. A significant cultural shift in terms of co-responsibility, discernment and scriptural awareness will be necessary in the diocese if synodality is to become our way of being Church in this new Millennium. (Forming Ourselves in Synodality)

Cashel and Emly

  • “A focus group of young mothers want to feel “uncomfortable” at liturgical celebrations. They want their faith to challenge them and to be radical. They speak of their need for Catechesis or teaching in the faith to satisfy a deep hunger. Only then can they be catechists to their own daughters and sons. (Connecting Faith Celebrations With LIfe Experience)
  • ‘I think you have to work at your personal faith and expecting your Church to support you without your effort yields nothing. I think the Church has to be relevant to today’s faith-based communities and encourage discussion and openness.’ (Parishioner 66-75 years) (Leadership and Co-Responsibility)
  • “The co-responsibility of laity and priests for the faith development of parish communities is a response to the new vision of leadership within the Church. It is a shared responsibility, a recognition of the priesthood of all believers. Concrete steps need to include the setting up of Parish Teams and inviting diverse people from across the parish community to share their gifts on this team. Ongoing faith and skills development need to be provided for lay pastoral leaders to work alongside the priests of the parishes and indeed to reach out to those on the periphery.” (Conclusions)

Clogher

  • “Communications, accompanied by best practice, has great potential to play an important part in faith formation through online means and social media, as well as outreach to the lapsed.” (Media/ Communications/Public Relations)
  • “It was noted in areas for consideration that work needs to be done to actively engage with young people today in terms of faith and linking faith with justice and the environment (see 2.10 and 2.11 below).It was also suggested that likeminded young people should be offered opportunities to meet often to deepen and nourish their Christian faith.” (Voice of Youth)
  • “It is also to be noted that many parishes do not have the levels of structures for pastoral planning and faith development that are needed.” (Developing Capacity among Lay People)

Clonfert

  • “Many spoke of their own and others lack of understanding when it came to key Christian beliefs and practices. (Quotes: ‘There is a great need to improve people’s Religious Education.’…’ People don’t know what they believe in.’…’Many no longer know or understanding the teachings of the Catholic Faith.’ …’Study groups about faith and the Bible are needed.’… ‘We want laity involved but who is going to train them?'” (Need for life-long Religious Education)
  • “Some spoke of how they often struggled to understand the Scripture readings. Others expressed a desire to learn more about the Bible so that they could better understand and appreciate the message contained therein. (Quotes: ‘The readings at Mass are impossible to understand.’ …’Parishioners don’t know God’s Word – they don’t even have Bibles.’ … ‘Scripture reading (a group) during Lent and Advent.’ …’There is a need for Bible study classes.’” (Struggle to understand Scripture)

Cloyne

  • “The standout response on our future mission is the need for formation and catechesis for both laity and clergy. At this point on the journey, the view expressed is that this is the crucial next step. There is an appetite for a deeper knowledge of faith to nurture life’s experience of faith. An interesting single quotation that “the bible needs to be re-written” illustrates the need for faith formation without making the case for it. The feedback clearly presented the theme that faith formation is surely where our church community in Cloyne needs to start to re-build. Related to this was a sense that faith formation will lead us to a better understanding of what is meant by inclusion and diversity.” (Developing Our Mission)
  • “Respondents stated that it is obvious that adult catechesis and adult formation is lacking in the Irish Church. There was a need identified for better scripture-based formation and prayer as part of adult faith formation programmes. The experience was shared that there is a need to explain the scriptures in a way that engages people and to equip them to discern the Word of God. This was developed further in relation to the Holy Spirit calling people to true evangelisation and education of the faithful in the Church’s teachings.” (Catechesis)

Cork and Ross

  • “It was noted that “middle-aged” people are drifting away from the church, partly because of apathy but also because of an almost total lack of faith formation and development in the church as a whole. It was highlighted that habit and tradition would appear to not be enough to keep people connected and enthusiastic about their faith. The notion that the Church is somehow stuck in a different time and not current or relevant to young people arose regularly.” (Participation)
  • “There was a regular acknowledgement of the lack of and need for a continuing adult faith formation. This is desired in order to engage in generative dialogue which will develop the capacity of people to evangelise. The Alpha experience as a way to achieve this was suggested a number of times. People wish to be able to proclaim the Good News with confidence and authority. This will then lead to capacity building,for sacramental preparation at parish level, to provide a more enriched and vibrant experience for those preparing to receive a sacrament.” (Conclusion)

Derry

  • “The other aspect of participation is being more fully engaged in the Mass and other liturgies. This is greatly enhanced if there is a better understanding of our faith. There was a widespread desire among participants to learn more about their faith and many believed that adult faith formation should be available within, and between more parishes. This will be a refresher to those who learned it at school but may be the first time that some people have gained an understanding of the riches of Church teaching. This may be offered to parents of children participating in the Sacraments, and developing their own faith and helping them to discuss it with their children. This deeper understanding could have a ripple effect within the parish, touching other parents and leading to more active participation in other roles. Faith participation programmes such as ‘GIFT’ and ‘Do this in Memory of Me’ have been mentioned frequently as examples of engaging with children and parents. It was felt that young people respond to projects and through projects faith can be deepened. With further training and investment, parishes felt such programmes could bring more lay leadership and build the parish faith community. It was mentioned that the diocese could learn from the organised faith formation programmes of the Syro Malabar community among us.” (Participation)
  • “There is a clear realisation that people need to be empowered to engage in the Church. Personal invitation is key here and provides a sense of permission for ordinary/lay people to be co-responsible along with the local clergy for faith development in their respective parishes and in the diocese as a whole. To this end, formation and training are essential if people are to build the necessary confidence which will encourage them to use the full range of gifts that they have for service in the Church. Plans for developing a programme of adult faith formation are already well underway in the diocese.” (Conclusion)

Down and Connor

  • “People recognised that at this time in the life of our Church there is a massive task ahead of us in evangelising in a secular society. We heard that people feel ill-equipped to undertake the task of evangelisation. For some living in Northern Ireland has meant that there has been a long-standing tradition of saying nothing about your faith. In more recent times, as peace has grown, so too has secularism, a new stumbling block to speaking openly about faith. In order to grow in confidence and to be able to share their love of God people called for the Diocese to invest more heavily in adult faith development and to create safe and dynamic spaces to come together and talk deeply about faith. “Our spiritual growth is stunted. As adult members of the Church, we are not sufficiently grounded in our faith and do not have confidence in speaking about our love of God.” People spoke of the loneliness that they felt in being part of a Church that their peers and family members have moved away from. There is a strong need to feel part of a community that supports and encourages those who wish to grow in their faith.” (Mission)
  • “As a diocese, the Holy Spirit is prompting us to find new and dynamic ways for everyone to encounter the love of God in the world in which we find ourselves today.  We will equip each person to deepen their spiritual lives, through vibrant liturgy, faith development programmes, and gathering for fellowship, prayer and worship. Special care is required to ensure that programmes are created and taken up by families with young children, people with disabilities, socio-economic difficulties and different ethnicities.” (Next Steps)

Dromore

  • “There are occasions where listening occurs, creating interest, energy and promise but doesn’t always follow through on what people expected. Guest speakers, ‘experts’ have been employed for parish events, but there are no established faith formation programmes.”
  • “1. Establish a Diocesan Faith Development Group encompassing all age groups.” (Recommendations / Faith)

Dublin

  • “Parish reports highlight the necessity to grow and mature in faith and to be formed both for living a life of faith and for evangelisation. Faith needs to be fostered and nourished. During the pandemic, various experiences of different activities and projects across parishes are evidence that local parishes are actively beginning to seek to strengthen their faith. It is critically important to form parents/guardians at the time of sacramental milestones of children. Such nourishment will include good homilies, training in prayer and adult catechesis. As one parish put it: ‘There is a yearning to study, pray, share and deepen Scripture and to share Lectio Divina.’  When people develop their faith they can discover and use their charisms. The lack of this faith development at parish level indicates that there is a crisis in the transmission of faith rather than a crisis of faith. (Mission)
  • “The voice of the Spirit also indicated the urgency of enabling everyone to develop their faith and the necessity of providing opportunities for all to grow in faith. This includes a deeper appreciation of the Word of God, an immersion in prayer and basic catechesis. There is a real desire for adult faith formation and also an openness to more people availing of training for ministries.” (Concluding Remarks and Steps Indicated)

Elphin

  • “iv. the need for forums/small groups that will support discussion, growth in understanding, courage and confidence regarding the ongoing transmission of the faith in home, work and parish settings.” (Mission)
  • “h. Many expressed a sense of inadequacy to the task of leadership in their own faith communities. There was a perception that this is connected with lack of formation and fear of criticism by others.” (Leadership)

Ferns

  • “There was a sense that the gifts of the laity were under-utilised by the Church. Increased lay involvement in the leadership, management, life and mission of the Church necessitated increased faith formation opportunities, educational initiatives, co-responsibility frameworks and shared authority structures. People also expressed a need for and interest in Scripture studies, various approaches to prayer and liturgy as well as other forms of catechesis, community and communication including approaches using technology.” (The People of God)
  • “In terms of healthcare and education, people expressed concern over its increasing secularisation and the decline of some Christian values and symbols. People expressed mixed opinions about the role of religion and sacramental preparation in schools with some wishing for closer ties between Parish and school while others wanted to see sacramental preparation and faith development moved from schools to families and Parish. In this regard, it was clear that the role of the family in faith formation requires further exploration.” (Our Local and Universal Church)
  • “There are also several points that may be considered as we continue to journey along the path of Synodality within our Diocese. These include further opportunities for dialogue at Parish and neighbourhood level; various approaches to faith formation & development opportunities
    for clergy and for lay women and men; improved communication processes; specific use of technology for evangelisation and faith formation; the further development of alternative forms of active, devotional and/or contemplative prayer services within Deaneries and Parishes; and the wider development of a suite of approaches to co-operative ministry and decision-making within Parishes, Clusters, Deaneries and the Diocese. (Conclusion)

Galway & Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora

  • “Faith formation within schools does not guarantee success. As one contributor at a parish meeting stated, “my children’s and grandchildren’s generation, despite they were all in good Catholic schools, don’t demonstrate much enthusiasm practising their faith.” Another participant added “there are teachers who do not believe and are unable to pass on the true meaning of Faith.” A contributor via the designated private email noted, “I’m not sure that the hierarchy generally have a real sense of how indifferent the younger generation are to the Church.” This lack of awareness has already had grave and lasting consequences. The need for ongoing faith formation programmes at all levels was a common view expressed. One respondent of the survey highlighted the urgency and importance of faith formation: “these services need to be given the same priority as the provision of sacraments.” (Faith as a Lived Experience)
  • “The importance of faith and faith formation was stressed time and time again at all the meetings. “Faith is life”, someone stated. Faith was also seen as something that gives peace and strength in the rat-race of life. However, the need for a deeper understanding of our Christian faith was seen as being urgent in order to enable us to genuinely witness to what we believe. A huge concern was the handing on of the faith. People were conscious of the ‘lost generations’, most of whom had gone through Catholic schools. Whatever the Synod (Universal and Irish) eventually
    examines, the whole area of faith formation will need to be looked at. It was stated that the Church needs to market what it has to offer, especially if we are to connect with the marginalised and disenfranchised. Faith formation will have to take on the challenge in a world where social media promotes ‘fake news’ and continually sees the Church in a negative light. How will the next generation be taught or educated about their faith. (Faith Formation into Adulthood)
  • “Less than half (41%) of respondents believe that current services in our church community do not meet today’s needs. The majority (79%) of respondents agree however, that the delivery of faith formation programs to enrich our lives is the responsibility of church community leaders. (The Diocesan Survey)

Kerry

  • “These (women’s) groups expressed the hope that they would see the Church reach out to young families, to teenagers and young people, to lead them to Jesus Christ inviting them to practise their faith through pilgrimage, retreat and prayer. They expressed a wish to see adult faith formation provided in local communities and were hopeful for a future where women would be seen as equal to men and that a day would soon come where we would have a female diaconate. Many women felt there was a need for the Church to acknowledge the equality women enjoy in the surrounding culture and reflect women’s cultural experience in terms of leadership, education and theological formation.” (Female Perspectives)
  • “The People of God in the Kerry Diocese have answered the call to speak boldly; we have heard what has been said. There is now a task before us as a community of faith. Our clergy know that they are being challenged to share more broadly the responsibility of leadership and decision making. The laity as a whole must step forward and accept new roles of administration, faith formation and leadership. For change to happen and barriers to be removed both clergy and parishioners need to have the courage to embrace change. Our parish communities and our tradition of faith depend on greater synodality in order to survive.” (Conclusion)

Killala

  • “Education – faith formation (for all)” (Fifth priority under the heading ‘What do we need to do now’)

Kildare & Leighlin

  • “What has emerged in the synodal process calls us to a ‘back to basics’ approach to faith formation across all ages. Many people mentioned the lack of adult faith formation and the need to help people to develop a personal relationship with Christ, in the midst of uncertainty and the fear of the unknown. There was a desire for a greater understanding of Scripture and basic teachings of faith. People expressed a wish that such exploration would take place in an atmosphere that encouraged questioning as well as learning and in accessible language. People want to understand their faith in a way that brings them to a deeper understanding of themselves and their life experience.” (Coming to Know Christ and Our Faith)
  • “The need for nourishment for people on their faith journeys was evident through the submissions. This includes faith development programmes for young people and adults and programmes or resources that nourish the spiritual life of people…. The teaching and faith development given by the Church must speak to the realities of people’s lives and meet them, as was stated ‘where they are at and not where Church leaders want them to be’. ” (Nourishing and deepening people’s faith and prayer life.)

Killaloe

  • “Calls for people to connect and re-connect with faith was a theme in many submissions. For some, there was a desire to keep traditional liturgies and return to faith practices such as parish missions, adoration, house Masses and confession. Faith renewal programmes were proposed and new ways of connecting with faith including contemporary ways of praying, mindfulness, parish retreats, faith sharing, bible study and intergenerational prayer groups. Others wished the Church to reach out, bringing the Mass church services to unfamiliar settings to broaden the understanding of the Church community. Re-creating and creating liturgies relating to life events and renewal of liturgies such as
    harvest liturgical celebration. Reconnecting with faith meant a return to the core teaching of Jesus Christ for some. Others conveyed the desire to hear faith stories from those living out Christian values every day. … Many submissions emphasised the involvement of lay people in the organising and facilitating faith groups, with particular mention of involving parents in sacramental preparation.” (Connecting and Re-Connecting with Faith)

Kilmore

  • “There were differences in how people saw the challenge of the church engaging with the wider society. There were two languages underpinning these differences. Some people used the language of invitation, others the language of obligation. For the former, the church needs to change to effectively connect with the people who have moved away. This group was largely in sympathy with the criticisms of the church in the report. But for the latter it is the people who have moved away who must change. The church needs to hold firm in its beliefs and teachings, and challenge people to live up to the demands of faith. There was a sense of grieving here for the lost position of church in society. A desire that church should teach, and people learn. A desire for parents to take responsibility for the faith of their children. A desire that organisations like the GAA should not be putting on events that clash with Mass times.” (Gathering of Parish Pastoral Council Members to review Report on Listening)

Limerick

  • “A gap is evident in people’s faith education demonstrating the need for quality teaching, that has not been silenced or watered down, to reach the faithful (young people in particular), who express a hunger for the truth; it is not that they know what they want but they know when it is missing. The church needs ‘to teach and not just listen’ – ‘faith is deeply embedded in the culture but the lack of catechesis is inhibiting that from being nurtured’ whilst being aware of a disconnect between the church in its institutional aspect and the everyday life of the lay faithful – ‘the language used is not connecting with the laity.’ ‘How will the uneducated be heard,’ wondered one respondent. A new language is required. This point was strongly endorsed at the pre-synodal meeting which further emphasised the need for a parental partnership in sacramental preparation.” (Discordant Voices / Prophetic Voices)

Meath

  • “There was a strong sense in the feedback that preparation for the Sacraments should be removed from schools. Despite the good work done by many teachers in parish schools, there is a need to support parents in passing on faith, and faith formation should be tailored to both parents and children, involving both in Sacramental preparation. “We need to get back to the Shema”, i.e. the transmission of the faith in the domestic context.” (Deut 6:4-9). (Faith-Discussion and Church Teaching)
  • “However, many of the respondents lamented the fact that apart from attendance at Mass, there was little or no opportunity to develop one’s faith in the parish context. While this was expressed in negative terms by many of the respondents, it must be noted that many of those who responded positively about how attendance at Mass had helped them to grow in faith were in effect saying the same thing: apart from Mass, there is very little else at parish level. Some who responded negatively went on to reference the value of faith-based experiences outside of the parish, e.g. membership of a faith movement, personal study, use of online resources, etc. Nevertheless, there was a strong trend in the responses indicating a severe lack of opportunity for faith development at parish level, with some saying that there is no opportunity at all and that faith development at parish level is “stagnant”. Some commented that their growth in faith had effectively ceased following their reception of the Sacrament of
    Confirmation in primary school (aged 12/13 years). Respondents who identified as non-practising, while admitting their lack of interest in faith development, expressed their unawareness of opportunities for faith development because of a lack of communication or never having been offered such an opportunity.” (MISSION: Growing in Faith)
  • “There is a sorrowful and painful lament coming from parents and grandparents for the loss of faith among their children and grandchildren. The traditional cooperative faith transmission model of Parish-Home-School is no longer working. Responses indicated a need for faith development at parish level, and a new evangelisation that offers the Christian vision of the human person, leading to interior conversion and intentional
    discipleship.” (CONCLUSION AND ORIENTATIONS)

Ossory

  • “(There is) lack of understanding of faith, lack of education in the basics of the faith, lack of understanding of the Mass; people don’t know the ten Commandments… – guidelines given out of love to help us; sad because people haven’t really known that God loves them.” (Knowledge of Faith)

Raphoe

  • “Education at all levels was seen as significant for the diocese. Adult faith education and programmes in Evangelisation need to be increased – there was a hunger for this. The connection with schools was seen to be very important and this link should be defended. The priest making regular visits to the schools was considered to be very important. Faith formation programmes such as those offered during Lent should be extended. This call for increased educational activities was seen as a priority as time is running out and people will need to be better trained and educated in the faith to face the challenges of the church in the future.” (Forming Ourselves)
  • “This Listening Process came at a time when our diocese was just about to launch a Diocesan Pastoral Plan. Our Plan includes serious proposals to address issues of adult faith formation; welcome; Pastoral Councils; outreach to Youth. The intention of the Plan is to form people, beginning with Parish Pastoral Councils, in methods of discernment that would intentionally build a culture of synodality across the diocese.” (Diocesan Plan: Forward Together, Ar Agaidh le Chéile)

Tuam

  • “The responses listed here highlight not alone the need for training in the various ministries but people’s willingness to be involved, starting with the basics and devoting our energies and time to set up proper adult religious education and faith formation across the archdiocese. This broad catechesis should not just involve the schools but must reach out to parents and families, to teachers and clergy.” (Sacramental Life)
  • “There is a felt and expressed need for catechesis and faith formation and training for ministry at all levels. (Education)

Waterford and Lismore

  • “Theme of Young People came up strongly during the conversations. People felt that a special Mass with children involved in the readings and the singing would help to keep them connected to their faith. It was also mentioned that the Mass should be ‘modernised’ for them. Another element of keeping young people involved was the whole idea of the JPII awards that have been successful in our Diocese. We need study groups with faith formation based on the Bible and Papal Encyclicals that contain rich spiritual nourishment. Alpha for young people is also a good way for them to learn more about their faith.” ( ‘Yes, I believe I have a role in the Church because I am the younger generation and the future of the parish’ )
  • “Faith Formation was a big discussion point throughout all the gatherings. It was generally felt that religion was visible, but there was not exactly an understanding of it. Small faith sharing groups would be beneficial in parishes – faith develops as you share. Catholic parents don’t always have the tools to pass on the faith to their children. There was a definite hunger among the gatherings that avenues of faith formation should be further developed, with a particular focus at parish level.” (‘Faith Develops as You Share’)

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far - and especially the presentation by Dr Nicola Brady on February 24th 2022 - gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This