Eighty parish leaders gathered at the Chancery for a one day workshop that focused on the essentials of spiritual leadership and new guidelines for the celebration of Confirmation. The event on August 23 was one of four annual diocesan-wide gatherings attended by primarily religious education directors who are also referred to as directors of faith formation.
The new Secretary for Faith Formation/Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Henry Fortier welcomed the group and provided a vision that will help guide leaders in the coming years. He emphasized that faith formation is a lifelong process and such programs should be “saturated” with Catholic identity.
“Catholic identity encompasses so many things…it’s not just a statue on the wall, it’s not just reciting the rosary, “said Fortier. “Catholic identity is something that you should be almost able to taste, to smell when you walk into a room. When you walk into a classroom or a parish hall or an office you should be able to feel it like the humidity outside. It doesn’t just hit one sense—it engulfs you. Everything should be saturated by Catholic identity if it’s done well.”
Fortier added that all faith formation programs, whether they are in Catholic schools or parishes, should strive towards maintaining the richness of our Catholic identity as well as “meeting people where they are at.”
Photo: Secretary for Faith Formation/Superintendent of Catholic Schools Henry Fortier welcomed 80 parish leaders—primarily directors of religious education—as he laid out his vision for lifelong faith formation.
““What you do and the impact you have will determine the experience of Christ that those young people, young adults and adults experience,” said Fortier. “What is the face of God that you want your people to see? What is the experience of God? Is it the judger? Or is he a God who embraces us and welcomes us back like the father of the prodigal son?”
In addition to Fortier’s opening presentation, Coordinator of Bishop Matters Jon Trout presented an overview of the new guidelines for celebrating Confirmation with Bishop Noonan, which is available in the Liturgy area of the diocesan website. There were also two presentations by Ken Doran, National Regional Consultant for William H. Sadlier, Inc., a national catechetical and educational publisher.
Doran’s presentations explored the “Essential Charisms for Spiritual Leadership,” which included the various callings that catechists have for the people they serve, including being a witness, a person of justice, and a person of hope. “A sacrament is an encounter with the living Christ,” said Doran. “We are called to be the encounter of Christ to those who come to us.”
After Doran led the participants in singing, “We’re Grateful O God” as a closing hymn, Larann Wilson, Director of Religious Education from St. Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs, noted that she was grateful for the opportunity to gather with her fellow catechists. “I get to share in God’s work, whether it’s working with the children or with the catechists or the parents, and not only with them but with the parish at large,” said Wilson.