success stories

Posted September 10, 2003

Helpful suggestions for those in lay ministry to ponder

Part I

Taken from the study conducted by the
Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women & Youth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000

The following is a list of the "top ten" helpful suggestions for each survey topic. These suggestions were selected because they were frequently mentioned. In addition, they are suggestions that could provide helpful considerations for a parish in assessing how it helps lay Catholics live out their call as Christians in the world. Although the topics are listed in order of importance to the survey respondents, The "top ten" are not listed in priority order.

To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve its adult faith formation/adult education: (Question 1A - Knowledge of the faith)

Provide support from the pulpit encouraging and challenging parishioners to grow and mature in their faith.

Provide good quality, spiritually nourishing classes, lectures, or discussion groups on Sundays or in the evenings on subjects such as Catholic social teaching, church history, Vatican II, church teachings, and topics from the catechism. Offer Advent and Lenten programs. Coordinate with local seminaries and theology schools to offer low-cost continuing education classes or lectures.

Establish position for professional Director of Adult Formation at parish or deanery level. Give adult faith formation the same priority that is allotted to children. Provide resources and regularly scheduled and structured programs.

Sponsor programs for young adults including "Theology on Tap."

Acknowledge the importance of single adults in parish communities. Offer programs to meet their needs.

Promote development of small faith communities.

Publicize programs and events being offered by neighboring parishes/diocese.

Look at new models of intergenerational learning and hire Director of Family Life to oversee adult and children's programs and ministries.

Offer retreats including the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Provide resources in a parish library.

To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve how it supports parents in passing on their faith to their children: (Question 1B - Knowledge of the Faith)

Schedule evening and week-end faith formation programs rather than after-school; provide resources and support to home schooling families; make Catholic education more widely available through more schools and lower tuition.

Offer a variety of faith formation opportunities including intergenerational family faith formation programs, lectionary-based catechesis, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Vacation Bible School, and programs for children with special needs.

Promote better communication with parents through parent participation in classes, parent orientation sessions and meetings, and handout materials so that lessons can be reinforced at home.

Emphasize lifelong catechesis: provide adult faith formation including adult education, enrichment, and Bible study during children's class times; promote discussion groups; provide guidance to parents on what and how to teach the faith, on the different levels of faith development, and on how to live the faith at home (domestic church.

Provide resources for families: lending library of books, videos, and children's music; bulletin inserts or section on parenting tips; monthly parent newsletter; speakers; take-home materials with activities, stories, traditions, rituals, explanations, and devotions.

Provide total youth ministry programs that encompass faith, service, and social activities; offer post-confirmation service opportunities.

Increase funding for faith formation: invest financially in Directors of Religious Education and Youth Ministers by providing just salaries to hire educated staff with appropriate credentials, experience, and skills; support catechists through better training, resources, and enrichment opportunities, and provide equitable distribution of funds between parish school and parish religious education program.

Promote community building efforts through more parent/child activities including family service opportunities; teen and family liturgies; family retreats; and family devotions, Advent/Lenten activities, and special activity nights/days.

Offer Children's Liturgy of the Word and "teaching" Masses so that children hear the Word proclaimed in an age-appropriate manner and learn about the different parts of the Mass.

Include Christian parenting component in baptismal preparation programs to educate parents on importance of passing on the faith; provide "post-baptismal" ministries with support groups for new parents, parents of young children, and single parents; sponsor mentoring programs with older and more experienced parents.

To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves how it helps me to understand more about Catholic teaching, including teaching about social justice: (Question 1D Knowledge of the Faith)

Sponsor year-round social outreach programs and activities that challenge the parish and provide opportunities for involvement. Provide programs for youth.

Emphasize, "Living the Gospel" through adopting twinning relationships with parishes in the developing world as well as in the inner city.

Recruit social justice minister to educate the parish and integrate Catholic social teaching into all aspects of parish life including worship, Scripture studies, and education.

Provide homilies that support "faith in action" and offer concrete ways to "live the Gospel." Incorporate local and national concerns into the Prayer of the Faithful.

Form social justice committee to plan programs and provide forum on issues and teachings. Sponsor lecture series with guest speakers. Offer library of reading materials.

Address the gap between Catholic social teaching and any injustices practiced by the church at the diocesan and parish levels, particularly in employment practices. Consider collective bargaining and just wages.

Utilize homilies and bulletin inserts to examine systemic causes of injustice.

Offer adult faith formation program.

Sponsor "action" initiatives including letter-writing and e-mail campaigns to legislators.

Use parish bulletin, newsletter, and website to post excerpts of church teachings and present brief biographies of role models.