Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 05:50
Amy Welborn asks in a discussion on Catholics schools and how they now bear the weight of catechesis:
Can you even imagine the ethos of Protestant Sunday School for adults had even the slightest foothold in Catholic churches?
Yes, I can because it has here, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle where we started the Institute and where I will be teaching the Called & Gifted this weekend.
They routinely have large adult Sunday School classes (60 or more depending upon the subject and speaker) in addition to evening classes on St. Thomas, the Bible, Exploring Catholic beliefs, etc.
The only parish I've ever been to where you can overhear two adults in the back of the Sunday School class debating variant readings of Ireneaus.
It can happen. In Blessed Sacrament's case, it's a combination of a historic (and beautiful) Dominican church, a nearby major university, and a very large population of intentional disciples in the parish who come from around the area to attend. Some are professors at local universities, some are underemployed average joe and janes who just are intellectually curious.
It's not just Blessed Sacrament. We've seen it happen over and over: adults become passionate about learning about the faith when they become intentional disciples. How many conversations have I had in interviews trying to help people discern between the natural desire to learn about their faith that follows conversion and the charism of knowledge? Dozens? Hundreds?
In Boise, people who have been through evangelization retreats fill every class in the diocese. The Director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in San Francisco flew up to see us in Seattle because he went to the pastor of St. Dominic's in the city and asked "why are my classes filled with your people?" Fr. Xavier simply said: "Have you heard of the Catherine of Siena Institute?"
We keep putting all our eggs in the institutional/program basket, but institutions and programs are designed to meet needs. When we call people to intentional discipleship, a whole new raft of needs emerge from within people: needs for prayer, for formation, for study, for fellowship, for discernment. Wouldn't it be great to have to deal with people clamoring for faith formation?
If you want peace, work for justice. If you want students of the faith, make disciples.