Evelyne Tilus admits it wasn’t until her daughter was born that she realized that she couldn’t teach her daughter how to be Catholic, if she did not know how to be one herself. So, Tilus embarked on a personal, spiritual journey of lifelong faith formation and learning.
“I realized faith formation is an ongoing process and you can never know too much,” said Tilus, a ministry leader at St. Catherine of Sienna in Kissimmee. “I always try to attend events such as this (Faith Formation Day) because I know there is always something I am going to learn. I encourage others to do the same because our faith is so rich and you get as much as you put into it. You have to continue to learn.”
Reaching Catholics, such as Tilus, in their faith journey was at the heart of the 16th Annual Faith Formation Day, held on Sept. 15 at Bishop Moore High School. About 900 members of Christ’s faithful from throughout the diocese gathered for a day of prayer and more than 100 informative workshops geared at deepening their own faith lives and enhancing their ministries. The theme of this year’s event was “Living Faith Throughout a Lifetime.”
Dennis Johnson, Jr., senior director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, said there is a great need for lifelong faith formation.
“If our goal as Catholics is to follow the Lord and to stand together as a community and Church, then making sure that we are growing with intention and commitment in our faith throughout our lives is important. The upcoming Year a Faith centers on that very premise—reinstituting a journey of faith and growing our commitment to Christ.”
In his keynote address, Bishop John Noonan urged Catholics to be living examples of their faith and to augment their knowledge of Jesus Christ by sharing examples of how he has touched their lives.
“As teachers, it is important that your students experience your relationship with Jesus Christ,” Bishop Noonan said. “Teaching about the Catholic faith is not just about citing facts. True knowledge is having a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
One of the greatest challenges faced by church leaders today is meeting the spiritual needs of young adults, Bishop Noonan continued. In a world of self-sufficiency, the need for God seems to be diminished. Unfortunately, our youth are hearing and living a message that all their needs can be met by the world, that there is no need for faith, no need for God or a relationship with him. Bishop equated the lives of today’s youth to that of St. Augustine, a wayward young man who said during his lifelong search for meaning, his soul was restless until he found God.
“How do we help our young people?” Bishop Noonan asked. “By opening up and breaking open the Word of God, by bringing them to Christ in the Eucharist. Despite our resistance, we, too, can encounter that Risen Lord when we allow Him to interrupt our busy lives with his presence. Young people may know the facts about their faith, but do they know the person behind these facts? Do they know Jesus, not as part of the history of salvation, but Jesus who is the reality of salvation? We are called to be custodians of the living memory of Jesus. When we open our minds and hearts, we open ourselves to the gift of Jesus Christ.”