By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
As the pandemic continues to disrupt life, faith formation leaders have had to make changes since 2020 as to how to teach the faith. They wonder what faith formation will look like in a post-pandemic future.
The diocesan Office of Faith Formation has prepared a series titled “Catholic Faith Formation in a Post-Pandemic World” with some sessions scheduled in-person and the others online, beginning next month. Faith Formation Director Don Boucher said that after the first 18 months of the pandemic, he and his staff heard from faith formation leaders and pastors about the struggles they encountered.
Boucher and Rosina Hendrickson, former lifelong faith and lay ministry formation coordinator, decided changes in faith formation were necessary, regardless of when the pandemic ends. He said they knew they could not return to a model that had become less effective even before the pandemic. “We realized we couldn’t just jump back to what we were doing before.”
During 2020 and into 2021, parishes tried a variety of ways to teach faith formation to youths and adults. “Some really struggled,” he said. Families were tired of Zoom and other online platforms. People in some geographical areas and especially older adults lack interest in online forums or don’t have the resources to participate. “Reality is the pandemic changed us.”
He and Hendrickson planned for a post-pandemic program that would address in-person and online gatherings — whether by choice or necessity. They planned the program for fall 2021 so that leaders would have time to process what they learned and to prepare for implementation in January 2022. Then COVID-19 cases started to rise, which postponed the fall session until late next month. Boucher hopes for implementation this summer.
His office will offer a five-part version of Lifelong Faith Associates, a program founded by John Roberto who has been a presenter in the diocese previously. The series begins with an in-person
workshop Feb. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City. The day’s two sessions are a morning presentation on Building Community and Relationships and an afternoon presentation on Formation for Christian Living in a New World. T Jane Angha, founder of Ministry Blueprints — a company dedicated to hospitality, welcoming and engagement training for faith communities — will lead the day.
A webinar scheduled for March 10 from 10-11:30 a.m. focuses on Designing Children and Family Faith Formation for the Post-Pandemic World. Catherine (Catzel) LaVecchia, director of Lifelong Learning at Church of the Presentation in New Jersey, leads that session. A webinar on March 24 from 10-11:30 a.m. focuses on Designing Adult Faith Formation for a Post-Pandemic World. Leading the session is Sister Janet Schaeffler, an Adrian Dominican Sister who has worked in parish and diocesan faith formation ministry. A webinar on April 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. focuses on Designing Adolescent Faith Formation for the Post-Pandemic World, which LaVecchia will lead.
The series concludes in person April 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the morning presentation on Designing Faith Formation Programming for All Ages and the afternoon presentation on Planning for the Future of Faith Formation in Your Parish. Roberto will lead these two sessions and be available to assist parishes with questions, Boucher said.
Attendees from parishes are not required to participate in every session, but are encouraged to do so.
Two options are available for participation fees. The first is a parish ticket, which is a flat fee of $275 for an unlimited number of parish staff and volunteers. Materials are included. If more than two people attend the in-person sessions, an additional charge of $10 per person will cover lunch costs.
The second option is the individual ticket for $45 per person for the in-person workshop that includes lunch and materials. The cost for the webinars is $25 per person and includes materials.
Purchase tickets by Feb. 17 by visiting https://www.davenportdiocese.org/cff-series and clicking on parish or individual ticket at the bottom of the page. Find more information about the sessions at https://www. davenportdiocese.org/cff-series. A brochure is available at https:// www.davenportdiocese.org/documents/2022/1/Catholic%20Faith%20Formation%20FINAL%20adjust.pdf
“We need to adjust how we are teaching in the future,” Boucher said. The Lifelong Faith Associates program will offer guidance and is open to “anyone who is involved in direct or support responsibilities.”