by: Teresa Lantigua Peterson
Adam Thielen had a lot of “aha” moments while participating in Why Catholic? in 2003. “There wasn’t a week that didn’t go by that my eyes weren’t opened… that I didn’t have an aha moment,” said Thielen. We spent 4 years studying what the Church really teaches and clearing up misconceptions and talking about religion on a level that doesn’t usually happen and how our faith affects our life. It was amazing.”
Photo Left: Father Robert D’Aversa, TOR, Adam Thielen and Sister Judy Waldt, MHSH discuss who should be asked to serve on the parish team for Why Catholic? at
Why Catholic? will be launching diocesan wide on October 4, 2010 and Thielen has volunteered to help establish the evangelization and adult faith formation program at his parish, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Mt. Dora.
“It will give people a whole new way of being Church when you are able to connect with others at such a level of intimacy and that transforms the Liturgy,” added Thielen who along with his wife, Milana, led a small Christian community while parishioners of Our Lady of the Lakes, Deltona in 2003. Their small group continues to meet on a regular basis for faith sharing and faith enrichment.
“Why Catholic? helped me fall in love with my faith all over again. I didn’t realize how rich our faith was and how much it applied to our everyday lives,” said Milana Thielen.
Renew International began to develop Why Catholic? shortly after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) increased its focus on evangelization and catechesis and had issued two documents: Go and Make Disciples and Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us.
“Both were seen as far reaching and important calls for faith formation and evangelization and it sent a strong message that the best of parish resources should be directed to adults,” said Deirdre Trabert Malacrea, communications director, Renew International.
Why Catholic? incorporates 4 books and each one takes 12 sessions to complete. The books refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Scripture. The books have undergone theological review and were approved by the USCCB Ad-Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism.
The name Why Catholic? encompasses questions such as: Why am I Catholic? Why do Catholics believe what they believe? Why do I want my family to be Catholic?
The evangelization part of the process is both overt and subtle. The overt part is recognizing that all Catholics are called to be evangelizers as a parish and as an individual. Renew offers workshops on how to develop a parish plan for evangelization.
“The subtle part has to do with being more confident to answer questions about our faith. After going through the process, you have a little more grounding so you don’t clam up on the topic of faith,” said Trabert Malacrea.
In 2003, Renew piloted Why Catholic? in the Diocese of San Bernardino and a few other parishes around the country, including Our Lady of the Lakes, Deltona.
Now it is offered in over 40 dioceses around the country and offered in multiple languages.
The first Why Catholic? topic to be introduced in the Diocese of Orlando is Christian Prayer: Deeping My Experience of God. Fifty-two parishes and missions in the Diocese of Orlando are currently participating in Why Catholic? For a list of participating parishes go to: www.orlandodiocese.org/who_we_are/why_catholic/participating_parishes.php.