I know there are faith formation classes, but do any parishes have groups that try and retain members and strengthen their faith? All classes seem to stop this upcoming month and go on hiatus until the fall. I thought it would be a great time to offer such assistance especially since there are new converts. I am thinking about answering questions, apologetics, book studies, studying on Saints, retreats, etc. What do you call your groups?
I think something like what you describe is a good idea. Most parishes that I know of that have something like this are doing it via prayer groups or book clubs.
Personally, I’ve been thinking about founding a “CD of the Month Club” at my parish, were members of the club would each subscribe to Lighthouse Catholic Media’s CD (or MP3) of the month and we would get together once a month to discuss the CD and pray the Rosary or something.
Info about the CD of the Month club: lighthousecatholicmedia.org/cdclub?promoCode=104130
Info about the MP3 of the Month club: lighthousecatholicmedia.org/mp3club?promoCode=104130
Our parish is doing “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Father Michael Gaitley. This is our 3rd go on this wonderful retreat. We’re offering it, Wednesday mornings, and Sunday at 12:30 PM (an hour after the last Mass).
You make a good point that many classes close down over the summer. It would be interesting to try summer only programs.
In addition to the Faith Formation classes; my parish offers Bible Study year round, a Book Club which reads/discusses books on faith. We also have instruction on Spiritual Excercises in Contemplative Prayer/Reading as well as Lectio Divinia.
Our parish doesn’t have anything, we’re only a small community, but the Archdiocese has a “renewal” group which co-operates with the Legion of Mary and that serves as something to bring back the Church to the people, and the people to the Church. Similarly, we have random “Back to Church” Sundays on whatever day the Anglicans do it - it’s an unsuccessful interchurch ordeal, never attracts much.
I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about 33 Days to Morning Glory. I wish we could have that here!
You could do it! The retreats came to our Parish through the efforts of one woman, who was inspired by Father Gaitley at a talk sponsored by our Archdiocese.
We’ve done all three of Father Gaitley’s retreats: 1. 33 Days to Morning Glory, 2. Consoling the Heart of Jesus, 3. Wisdom and Works of Mercy.
Father Gaitley and his team keep the cost of the retreats very reasonable—$50 for a leader’s packet, $29 for a participant’s packet, not including shipping. The leader’s packet contains lots of information: how to form you group, how to lead the talk session, how to advertise, DVD lectures from Father Gaitley for each lesson, and etc.
I’m a ***33 Days to Morning Glory ***retreat coordinator. If you PM me, I can help you set one up and how to “sell it” to your pastor.
I think this is an important issue that needs to be addressed. I have known non-Catholic Christians who would “fellowship” on a regular basis. This not only strengthened their faith through prayer, and talking about the Bible, but also by praying together, for one another. Talking about personal issues from a faith-based perspective created relationships. It created a sense of community that I think is missing in some Catholic Churches where we all get into our cars and drive home after Mass. Christian Communities or groups outside of the Church could meet at a building nearby (school gym?) or even a restaurant. It’s been done. There are even Christian coffeehouses dedicated to prayer, social interaction and encouraging each other as we try to live authentically Christian lives in a mostly secular society, at work and at home. I mean we should help bear each others burdens even if it’s just listening and offering advice on how to deal with life.
Oftentimes, new converts have some trouble leaving behind their old lives and need guidance and encouragement to help integrate their faith into their lives, and someone to answer their questions.
Exactly. Having been in just such a Christian environment for many years, and last year coming back into a Catholic environ, we were basically orphaned June, July and August. Almost all our recent converts are single and the only Catholics in their families. I don’t want them to feel orphaned. We did just start a supper club with a Bible study, I wondered what other parishes were doing.
I honestly don’t think many parishes are doing much, unless they have a lot of converts (or mostly transplants like a military chapel). It’s been a very long time since the Church hasn’t been receiving the number converts we are getting now, so it’s not something that many parishes are used to.
But that’s why I think it’s nice to have a convert / transplant group. One where “new” parish members who don’t have family and/or friends at the parish can meet one another.
When a convert or a transplant moves to a large parish where large numbers of parishioners grew up in the parish or have been their for 20+ years, it’s often hard to make friends.
So it’s not just the converts who sometimes feel left out, but also the transplant cradle Catholics who have just moved to a new area.
One example is a non-Catholic Christian coffeehouse I visited for a while. There was a room on the main floor with small tables and chairs, where coffee and snacks were available. Often, a Christian musician would come in and play their guitar and sing. A select number of books were sold as well. Upstairs, there was a room with a couch and some chairs where we could casually talk and get to know each other. In the next room was a simple cross where we could pray together. People would talk about the good and difficult things going on in their lives. This social aspect is what’s needed. The idea that “It’s not just me, but other Christians - new or established in the faith - going through this or that trial.” That bond with other Christians creates a feeling that you’re part of a real flock - you’re not alone. You are a brother or sister in Christ and you have others to share your trials and get their input and along with them, ask for God’s help.
Go to your Parish Priest. Propose something so that we are not just strangers standing next to each in Church.
If you are interested in the 33 Days to Morning Glory, please feel free to check out this website: lighthousecatholicmedia.org/store/categories?promoCode=104130&category=hearts-afire-parish-program
Yes, I have been looking over the program here allheartsafire.org/33days/overview.php
And will contact an active Legion of Mary group close by, also look into CSSI. I am reviewing an EWTN free audio study with Scott Hahn and find it a little hard to follow, Hahn is so enthusiastic, speaking so fast, I have to keep pausing the audio and replaying it. It’s called Our Father’s Plan. I will present these to the priest and see if I can round up some facilitators. Thanks for your input.