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January 05, 2011
Getting Back to the Basics of Faith
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”


As Christmas is packed away for another year, our souls yearn to get back to the ordinary routines. In the classroom, we return to catechesis with the same focus: Teaching the basics of faith is the good work of these winter days.


What are some examples of fun or interesting ways you share the basics of the Catholic faith with children, teens or adults? Share your ideas and questions on our Faith Formation Forum.

Teaching What We Believe and Why
The results are in: We Catholics are sorely lacking in our knowledge of the essentials of our faith. While catechesis has made marvelous strides in leading young Catholics to encounter God, we now need to teach our children what we believe and why we believe it.

Parents and catechists are struggling as well. Somewhere between Vatican II and the present day, basic beliefs of our faith were lost in the shuffle. It’s never too late to begin. What a perfect New Year’s resolution: to learn more about Catholics beliefs. Keeping the Catechism of the Catholic Church on a table in the classroom for reference, using Catholic Updates for discussion groups and even playing “Jeopardy” with Catholic questions and answers could help the cause.

Whether we’re teaching the faith at the supper table or in the parish religious education program, it’s high time to learn the answer to “What do you Catholics believe?”
Online Catalog
Interesting Question
How often have you been with students who bring forward a question you cannot answer? We have all been in that situation, and I find the best response is to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Then, resource in hand, show the students how to find the answer. When we go this route, we are teaching skills for a lifetime of faith.

A great little resource for this process is Ask a Franciscan: Answers to Catholic Questions by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. Father Pat uses wit and wisdom to bring a concise focus to the real point of each question. These answers are mined from his column in St. Anthony Messenger magazine, so the queries are as real as the ones that come to you and me in the classroom. You might even want to consider a question of the week lifted from this valuable book.
Online Catalog
Building a Strong Foundation
My family name is Eckstein, German for “cornerstone.” The Scripture passages about Christ being “the cornerstone” (see Ephesians 2:19-22) have always meant something special to me.

Stones that are used for the foundation of a structure must be solid to hold the weight of the structure. So must our foundation of faith be solid if it is to sustain us through the many challenges we face in our lives.

Father Michael Himes offers insights into the building blocks of faith in the DVD set Foundations of Christianity. In five 25-minute presentations, he covers the topics of mystery, conversion, faith, hope and love. I’ve selected a clip from the first program, “Mystery,” to share with you (Media Player).

These presentations, rich with symbolism and examples, are great for groups of adults looking to revitalize their understanding and living of the faith. Consider making this your Lenten adult faith formation offering or encouraging small groups to use it over a series of gatherings. Perhaps you have parish renewal groups who wish to continue meeting and are looking for material to use. A free leader’s guide is available online.

Move into this new year with the confidence that comes from having a strong foundation of faith—and invite others to join you.

Peace to you in this new year—and always!
Franciscan Radio
Lent? In January?
Aren’t we just finishing the Christmas season?

True, but it’s not too early to begin planning for your Lenten study groups. Perhaps you and your parish planning team would like to participate in a Webcast with Richard Rohr, author of a new book, Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent.
This book offers
·         a Lenten encounter with the Scriptures
·         biblical insights and prayerful reflection from a renowned spiritual writer
·         a FREE study guide available for individual or group use
Wondrous Encounters official Webcast is Saturday, February 5, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. MST.

Register for the Webcast online or purchase the book here.
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