November 15, 2013

‘The wisdom of the faithful’: Year of Faith in archdiocese capped by release of faith-sharing resource

A mother kisses her child during a December 2012 Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. The “10 Things” resource says that Catholics want to work with all people of good will to build a “civilization of love.” (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

A mother kisses her child during a December 2012 Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. The “10 Things” resource says that Catholics want to work with all people of good will to build a “civilization of love.” (File photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Sean Gallagher

Pope Benedict XVI launched the Year of Faith more than a year ago halfway around the world at the Vatican.

In the months that followed, Catholics across central and southern Indiana met in their parishes to learn more about their faith and to share with each other what it is that they love about being Catholic.

Now, with the end of the Year of Faith a little more than a week away on Nov. 24, the fruit of these meetings can be seen in a new resource of the archdiocese that is intended to help Catholics learn more about their faith and share it with others: “10 Things We Want You to Know about the Catholic Faith.”

The resource in various formats can be viewed both in English and in Spanish by logging on to www.archindy.org/yearoffaith/10things.html.

“It was produced with outreach and invitation in mind,” said Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis. “There are all sorts of great ways that it can be used. On the one hand, we’re confident that parishioners will take the ball and run with it. In addition to that, we will, in all likelihood, be offering some additional formats.”

Some of those other formats that are in the planning stage include having individual points among the “10 Things” printed on wristbands to be distributed to thousands of Catholic youths from across the nation who will attend the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) on Nov. 21-23 in Indianapolis. Attendees will be encouraged to collect all 10 wrist bands.

Bookmarks that feature the “10 Things” are also available for parishes in central and southern Indiana to be included with resources that they give to parishioners or visitors to their faith communities during Advent and Christmas.

“This is not a project that we did and it’s just going to sit on a shelf and collect dust,” said Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, vicar general. “We’re really going to try to use it in the time ahead as we do the work of reaching out to people.”

If “10 Things” is used as Bishop Coyne and others across the archdiocese involved in the process that produced it hope it will be, Ogorek said that parishes will need to be prepared for newcomers drawn to the faith by it.

“We always hope that parishes will be welcoming,” Ogorek said. “But if you’re going to use a resource like this, you really need to have some eyes and ears open about being especially welcoming.”

Parishes, Ogorek said, might consider offering question-and-answer sessions about the faith and to adjust their Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process to help people who make inquiries about the Catholic faith at various times of the year.

Drawing people to the faith through “10 Things” will only happen, however, if individual Catholics across central and southern Indiana take the initiative to use it, said Peg McEvoy, associate director for evangelization and family catechesis for the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education.

“It’s going to take our faithful Catholics to step out to begin that conversation,” said McEvoy. “I would not anticipate that someone that’s been away for whatever reason would necessarily pick this up and begin wondering. … We need to take the initiative to begin that conversation.”

Rob Doyle is ready to begin that conversation with the help of “10 Things.” He thinks the resource can be especially helpful with Catholics who have left the practice of the faith.

A member of St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, Doyle was involved with Year of Faith study sessions in his parish and was among a group of Catholics from across the archdiocese who reviewed “10 Things” during a September meeting at St. Agnes Parish in Nashville.

“I think it will help with the catechesis of the people in the pews,” Doyle said. “And they, in turn, can reach out to their family members who may have left the faith.”

Part of the reason that “10 Things” may be effective in starting conversations about the faith is that it expresses the faith of many people across central and southern Indiana as they shared it during meetings in all 11 deaneries.

“I think it’s good that it was a grassroots effort,” said Doyle. “I like the fact that it doesn’t come from the top down.”

Bishop Coyne agreed. “It’s something that has come out of the sensus fidelium, the sense of the faithful, the wisdom of the faithful,” he said.

At the same time, Nate Macmillan, a member of the archdiocesan Evangelization Commission, said that the process that resulted in “10 Things” challenged some Catholics—in a good way.

Macmillan, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, participated in the process at the parish, deanery and archdiocesan levels.

When people would be asked to share what they like about the Catholic faith, many, Macmillan said, hesitated because they hadn’t been asked that question previously.

But once the question was posed and people gave it some thought, out flowed many beautiful reflections. Macmillan thinks focusing on the positive aspects of the Church and the Catholic faith can be a way to open doors with other people who aren’t Catholic or who have left the practice of the faith.

“That’s something that, I think, people aren’t afraid to talk about,” Macmillan said. “It might be something that they haven’t thought about. But once they start talking about it, they’re not afraid at all. It kind of knocks down all of those barriers [to talking about the faith with other people].”

Ogorek attended all 11 deanery meetings that took place earlier this year. He was encouraged by seeing how much the faith meant to Catholics across central and southern Indiana.

“It was a beautiful experience,” Ogorek said. “There’s nothing quite like being with people face to face and not only hearing what they say, but seeing the joy and the love in their eyes as they talk about Jesus, as they talk about what a Catholic life means to them and their family.”

Macmillan said that “the sky is the limit” as to the ways in which “10 Things” can be used.

“Whether it be a small group in a parish community or a parish itself or a neighborhood community, there are different ways that you can disseminate the information and get it out to people,” he said. “You have to consider your audience and what means you want to use to get there.”

One of the means that Bishop Coyne thinks could be effective would be through social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

He also thinks they could be used in Catholic Charities in the archdiocese to help its volunteers and clients know about the beliefs behind the Church’s outreach to those in need.

“We have a lot of volunteers who aren’t Catholic,” said Bishop Coyne. “We also have a lot of clients who aren’t Catholic. Why not put these ‘10 Things’ in pamphlet form [available to them]?

“We have to be, in a sense, more ambitious or intentional in how we use this. It’s not a threatening thing. … It just says, ‘Here are 10 things we want you to know about our faith.’ ”

Bishop Coyne, other archdiocesan leaders and Catholics across central and southern Indiana recognize that “10 Things” is not a comprehensive statement of the Catholic faith, and that it is only one means of sharing the faith.

“They’re just the fruit of conversation amongst Catholics,” Bishop Coyne said. “And I think they’re an opportunity to further conversation, to further dialogue with people.”

Still, Bishop Coyne said that “10 Things” is something that Catholics in central and southern Indiana can be proud of.

“This is the summation of what we’ve done, among other things, during the Year of Faith,” Bishop Coyne said. “Now it’s launching us into going out to the mission.” †

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