With pastoral planning in full gear and more focus supposedly going to adult faith formation and evangelization (at least on paper), at the suggestion of a reader, BCI takes a look today at what Boston parishes are doing for their Adult Faith Formation. What are some of the good and the bad programs? As you might imagine, the good ones are very good, and the bad ones are, well, pretty bad.
In the good category, St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence is doing a six-evening series “Life and Light” exploring the Catechism of the Catholic Church, focusing on the sacraments. Each session includes a presentation by Fr. Paul O’Brien with “extensive opportunities for questions and answers.”
Also in the good category from St. Mary’s in Waltham, as seen in this recent bulletin notice (see 4th inside page), the parish has instituted a second afternoon of adoration and benediction for the fall, and will offer special fasting bread for parishioners. This makes two afternoons of Adoration a week, starting in September. Sounds pretty good to BCI. St. Mary’s also recently had a speaker talk about the benefits of fasting in the Catholic tradition. In principle that sounds good, but the connection between the presenter and his affinity for Medjugorje puts this latter initiative in the controversial category.
In the controversial or not-so-good category is the “Why Catholic?” program from RENEW International offered at many parishes across the Boston Archdiocese with the backing of Cardinal O’Malley. That merits a whole blog post for itself. Suffice to say for now, BCI believes anything associated with RENEW is highly suspect. Read Site Review: Why Catholic or Renew International: Queries for now. Also, look at their leadership. Their President, Sr. Theresa Rickard, O.P. is a Blauvelt, NY Dominican Sister, whose order is represented by the Leadership Council of Women Religious. Sr. Terry holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis, Missouri) and a Master of Divinity Degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a multi-denominational Presbyterian-founded school that describes itself as having “roots firmly planted in the Protestant, Reformed tradition. “Being informed by the insights of liberation theologians, the Seminary embraces and addresses the richness and realities of religious pluralism.” We will revisit this in another post.
In the bad category are St. Susanna in Dedham, Holy Family in Concord and Blessed Sacrament in Walpole.
At St. Susanna in Dedham, Fr. Steve Josoma started the adult faith formation program this fall with a discussion of Buddhism.
September 24, 2012 – The Essence of Buddhism: Cultivating Inner and Outer Harmony. What are the central tenets of Buddhism and how is this ancient wisdom relevant today? Presenter: Wendy Garling, a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, holds an M.A. in Sanskrit Language and Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been teaching Buddhist thought and practice in the Boston area for over ten years. In this overview presentation we will learn about the Buddha’s insights into human potential and his teachings on helpful ways we can view and navigate the world we live in. Wendy will explore with us how we can use these tools to create a happier, more meaningful spiritual life.
Last Sunday, October 1, they discussed Mormonism, led by a life-long Mormon Church leader. In November, there will be a session “Will the Real Nuns Please Stand Up?” about how nuns are under attack by the Vatican.
As for Holy Family in Concord, here is their brochure. The list features speakers from the recent Voice of the Faithful conference in Boston, including Thomas Groome and Richard Gaillardetz. Groome is a national co-chair of “Catholics for Obama” and a former priest. Groome’s upcoming talk is on his new book, “Will There be Faith?” Also, Fr. Walter Cuenin and Fr. Austin Fleming will speak on the legacy of Vatican II, among others. Fr. Cuenin is no stranger to controversy. Time does not permit us to go further there today.
At Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, under Adult Faith Formation on their website, we see that their Book Club recently read the fictional novel, Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. Read these reviews at Amazon.com, WomenWriters.net, and the New York Times, and ask yourself how this belongs in any Catholic Church, let alone an “Adult Faith Formation” program.
Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel is all about sex, and she doesn’t waste much time on foreplay…”Every single thing you hear in the woods right now is just nothing but . . . males drumming up business,” Deanna explains. By chapter’s end she and Eddie are drumming up some of their own, falling on each other for a serious Gore-Tex-ripping mingling of gametes — the ”pursuit of eternity,” biological style.
“Having chosen a life of isolation after her marriage ends, her world is invaded by Eddie Bondo, coyote hunter and sex god, with whom she argues and makes love and through whom she comes to reevaluate her notions of independence. We may think of the natural world as a refuge, Kingsolver suggests, but if anything it places our own choices in sharper relief. Displaying a frank eroticism unusual for Kingsolver, this story held for me the most compelling passages in the novel.”
BCI wonders where the guidelines are for parish-based Adult Faith Formation. We will write to the Secretary for Faith Formation for the Boston Archdiocese to ask. We find it odd that the archdiocese felt comfortable setting and propagating guidelines in early 2011 that said all Catholic schools must admit children of gay and lesbian parents, but we cannot find any guidelines that parish adult faith formation programs and speakers need to be Catholic and adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Anyone else find that problematic?
Are the adult faith formations programs at your parish good or bad? Let us know what you think and are seeing via comments or Contact Us. Have a blessed holiday weekend!