We’re continuing today with more Principles for Adult Faith Formation. These address planning:
- 4. Give adult faith formation the best of our pastoral resources and energies. (78)
- 5. Make adult faith formation essential and integral to the pastoral plan of the parish. (79)
- 6. Design adult faith formation opportunities to serve the needs and interests of the entire faith community. (80)
These principles are among the most-ignored and least-trusted of any in the entire document. Many pastors and educators just don’t believe them.
The first of these principles is subverted because we want to provide for our children–this is a natural impulse. And a good one. The problem is that leaders find it difficult to let go of the role as primary catechist. We say those words in the baptismal rites, but we don’t take them seriously. We struggle to hand on what has been given to us: this is a failure to imitate Jesus.
If our parishes have pastoral plans, I would guess other items take priority: funding, buildings, children, existing ministries–usually the strong ones with good advocates.
This is a good quote the bishops borrowed from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, their document Aetatis Novae: A New Era. Pastoral Instruction on Social Communication:
The Church therefore must maintain an active, listening presence in relation to the world—a kind of presence which both nurtures community and supports people in seeking acceptable solutions to personal and social problems. (8)
This would move us a bit beyond what we would see as the core constituency of a parish, even if adult formation was a priority.
The US Bishops published Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us in 1999. We’ll continue to examine this document in the days ahead.