September Initiative: Outreach and Invitation to Parish Faith Formation - Tom Quinlan, Diocese of Joliet
I think our challenge in parish and diocesan leadership today is two-fold. First, we need to hold onto or reclaim hope. And second, we need to find concrete and effective ways to rise above a passive “managing decline” mode of operating.
One of my special treats this summer was being able to read “Jesus of Nazareth” by Gerhard Lohfink. The subtitle ambitiously reads: “What He Wanted; Who He was.”
Encounter. Where and how do we encounter God? Where and how do we offer that opportunity to others?
Patrick Madrid’s book, Why Be Catholic is a heartfelt examination of why Madrid chooses to be Catholic, and why he believes there is no other faith tradition that can fulfill humanities’ deepest needs. Madrid begins by taking a candid look at human weakness. He reveals that the sinful acts of the Apostles in the early Church are not unlike the sins of individuals in today’s Catholic Church. But even so, there is great joy in being Catholic. In the ten chapters of this book, Madrid explains the relationship of the human condition with the Sacraments of the Church and the Church’s moral social teachings.
Getting Your Ducks in a Row is about ordering of our priorities for success in our efforts at evangelization. Tackling this may not satisfy our urge “to do” but it will uncover a path for a parish to follow. The USCCB document Disciples Called to Witness addresses a “culture of witness” in Section IV. Here our bishops suggest specific catechetical methodologies that “should guide pastoral programs aimed at renewing the faith of all Catholics, including our missing brothers and sisters.”
Our “Theology on Capp” for Teens is a new program inspired by the "Theology on Tap" sessions that Catholic dioceses have held for many years for young adults at restaurants and bars. At Marian High School, we sensed that our students needed a fresh, friendly “non-academic” environment in which they could gather together and discuss issues they carry in their hearts. Many have expressed that in the classroom, next to their textbooks and assignments, God sometimes appears to become “another academic subject” rather than a loving Divine Father. So we partnered with the local Knights of Columbus to hold "Theology on CAPP (as in cappuccino)" once a month. We firmly believe that the growth of our current program is mostly due to our constant entrustment of its success to the protection and care of Our Blessed Virgin Mary.