Life-Long Faith Formation: Our Model at St. Bernard
Adult Faith Formation
We take great pride in our adult formation program here at St. Bernard. We provide many opportunities at different times of the year, incorporating the liturgical season and the gift of learning about our faith. Our formation program includes:
- Sacred Scripture
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Foundations of the Church
- Mary and the Saints
- Church Fathers
- Other studies requested by parishioners!
Jesus Christ invites us to enter into a life-changing relationship with Him. When we grow in a relationship with someone, we share stories and things about us with the other person. In the very same way, Christ wants so very much to share His love, the gift of the Sacraments and the beauty of His Church with believers. Our commitment to grow in the faith by learning more about the Church and her teachings will help us establish a relationship with Christ that will grow and flourish as we open our hearts to the treasury of faith and knowledge that the Church provides for us.
Third Weekend Homilies with Fr. Michael
Fr. Michael loves kids!! On the third weekend of the month, during the 10:00am Mass, September - May, he invites all children age 5 and older forward, and the Sunday homily is geared toward them. Many parishioners comment that they like those homilies better than the regular one! :) This is a wonderful opportunity for children to embrace the Word of God in a setting that's both kid-friendly and engaging!
RCIA: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is designed to aide people coming into full communion with the Catholic Church from another faith tradition (candidates), or those who seek membership in Christ's Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation (catechumens). This is a process, rather than a program with a strict timeline.
The process begins with a period of inquiry, where the candidate or catechumen asks questions from a team of those in our parish family who are anxious to help teach the faith to those seeking more. There is no set timeline in this process - it can be as short or as long as the candidate/catechumen needs. The RCIA process is centered around the liturgical life of the Church. Those seeking membership in Christ's Church aren't just "becoming Catholic," but are having a true conversion experience as they learn more about the faith. Because the process is liturgical in nature, the whole parish community celebrates with those who choose embrace this journey.
When the candidate/catechumen is ready, the parish celebrates the Rite of Acceptance - a time in which the parish community warmly welcomes those to be received. Following the Rite of Acceptance, a period of instruction follows, which includes catechesis on the Scriptures and the Traditions of the Catholic Church. Catechumens (those who have never been baptized) will experience initiation on Holy Saturday (before Easter Sunday) through the waters of Baptism, Confirmation, through the laying on of hands and anoiting with the sacred chrism, and a reception of the Lord's Body and Blood. Those already baptized in another Christian tradition will profess the faith of the Church, and receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
No one is ever forced or persuaded. The Church's role is to invite and become companions on this journey. The journey doesn't end through reception into the Church. A life of learning, understanding and growing has just begun, and continues through adult formation and regular attendance at Sunday Mass! Those participating in RCIA also attend the Generations of Faith Core Lesson as a way to come to know the parish community.
Partnering with Parents to Create Faith-Filled Children for the Future!
Many people feel as though the Church is charged with the primary responsibility of educating children in the practices of the faith. When parents bring their children for baptism, the priest says to them during the administration of the Sacrament, "You are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practices of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up according to the law of Christ and His Church." The Church states very clearly that parents are the primary educators in the faith they teach to their children. A parish religious education program provides a place in which children explore more deeply the teachings of Christ and His Church that are taught and practiced in the home. We are proud to be partners with parents!
Generations of Faith: Core Lesson
There are two popular methods of religious education in the parish setting. The traditional model places students in the classroom with a catechist. Parents are encouraged to participate in the adult formation program to complement their child's learning.
The other model, which we adopt here at St. Bernard, is the Generations of Faith model. We call it "Core Lesson". In this model, parents and children learn about their faith together, as a family unit. This model follows more closely the method in which the faith is passed down and learned in the home.
Core Lesson sessions are held on the first Sunday of each month, with a recess during the months of January and February. The sessions are geared toward everyone in the parish. Family catechesis takes place for those who come together as a family. For those who are single, an adult formation session is held in conjunction with each family session. The session follows this format:
- Communal gathering and meal.
- Announcements and group catechesis.
- Breakout sessions for families and adults.
- Gathering and closing prayer