Why Catholic? is about to begin its second year in the Diocese of Orlando. The theme is now focused on “The Profession of Faith: What We Believe.” The kick off is October 4, and shortly thereafter small Christian communities will meet for twelve sessions to focus on the first part of the Catholic catechism, which is all about the faith we profess.
“Your faith comes from God. It’s a gift,” said Dominican Sister Pat Thomas. “But the second half of this is you have to respond. And that’s why we read and study and do good works and learn from each other, and that’s how our faith grows.”
Why Catholic? started in 50 parishes in the Diocese of Orlando in October of 2010 but the planning started back in 2009.
Bishop John Noonan encourages as many people as possible to participate in Why Catholic?
“These small Christian communities invite our active engagement in moments of grace as our dear Lord touches our lives. This process brings us closer together and strengthens our faith-filled community,” said Bishop Noonan.
“Why Catholic? is offered in English, Spanish, Creole, and Vietnamese in our diocese. All are welcome, whether you are already participating in a small group or this is your first opportunity,” added Bishop Noonan.
As parishes prepare to welcome participants into the adult faith formation and evangelization process by RENEW International, parish coordinators have been reaching out to small community leaders, returning members of the small Christian communities and new participants in a variety of ways.
In order to be as welcoming as possible, parishes are finding creative ways to accommodate the schedules of their parishioners.
Last year at Holy Cross Parish in Orlando, parents of children in kindergarten through fifth grade were invited to participate in a Why Catholic? session while their children were attending faith formation classes. The sessions were available in English and Spanish and the total participation was as high as 60 – 80 people on any given night.
“We had a great response from the ones who came,” said Sharon Taylor, Sacramental Coordinator at Holy Cross. “I think it was a great evangelization tool. Some people definitely made it a point to keep coming based on that one day.”
Taylor added that Holy Cross will continue to make Why Catholic? sessions available for parents while their children are taking their faith formation classes. “This year we’re going to encourage them a little more, and invite greater participation this year.”
St. Margaret Mary parish in Winter Park is also trying to encourage more Why Catholic? participation with e-mail invites and online registration. Dominican Sister Rosemary Finnegan, parish director of adult faith formation, said that online registration has been successful but ultimately a personal invitation is the biggest motivating factor for people to join a small Christian community through Why Catholic?
“We know that participants have reached out to neighbors who are non-practicing Catholics and asked them to join along,” said Sr. Rosemary. “When a participant is enthusiastic about the program and invites another to it, it’s really authentic.”
To watch a video about Why Catholic? and to find out what parishes are participating, visit https://www.orlandodiocese.org/en/wc-why-catholic.