Some parishes in our diocese have memberships to the website Formed.org, enabling their parishioners to access Catholic resources hosted there. Formed.org is an online platform, which some have nicknamed the “Catholic Netflix.” It hosts an impressive amount of content including Bible studies, presentations on the sacraments, on Catholic thinkers, saints, and theology. Formats include video programs and feature films, audio presentations and downloadable books, all accessible on demand through the Internet. You may already be familiar with some of the programs used in small group parish settings, such as the Symbolon Bible study or Fr. Michael Gaitley’s retreat, 33 Days to Morning Glory. At the website these are all available to revisit whenever and wherever you are. The website is simple and reliable to use and has proved very popular with many parishioners I have spoken to.
Recently I checked Formed.org out in depth. I found many things there to encourage and challenge my faith. I particularly liked the Opening the Word segments which give short video commentaries for each Sunday Gospel reading. Designed for RCIA, a printable leader’s guide and participant’s journal are available for each Sunday. Although the translation used is from the New American Bible, differing slightly from the New Revised Standard Version we hear at Mass, the commentary still applies.
I also listened to Keep Holy the Sabbath by Dr. Tim Gray. Gray has an in-your-face style that some will find compelling and convincing but others defensive or alienating. Similarly the video presentation Why God Still Matters by Karlo Broussard, of Catholic Answers, comes out fighting against public atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, using philosophy and reason to undermine the strident claims that there is no God. While their arguments here are traditional Catholic teaching, the apologetic sensibility of these speakers bleeds into other content on the site giving it an energetic but combative stance, of a church newly embattled (hasn’t it always been?) and a forceful rather than humble evangelization.
Many parishioners have already experienced Dr. Edward Sri as an engaging speaker. I watched his class room discussions with college-aged students as he presented on relativism in Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love. Sri made some strong and substantial points that I could imagine using in discussing my faith with others. As a whole the speakers bring welcome clarity to points of theology. It is interesting to note, though, the lack of diversity in style and presentation. It took me a while to discover authoritative women’s voices, although I found Dr. Mary Healy delivering the Lectio Bible Study on Evangelization looking at the Book of Acts. Cut and dried answers and “I know I’m right” fervour leaves little room for real debate. The audio lecture on G.K. Chesterton seems less about the man and his faith than a thinly veiled partisan political speech. This style could alienate some parishioners.
These issues aside all the video that I watched was of consistently high quality and a wonderful starting point for parish meetings and discussion. Parishioners will have to buy workbooks and other resources in order to get the full benefit of some sessions but the content goes a long way to helping form Catholics in our faith albeit with a particular flavour. Formed.org is a great resource for busy parishes although it would be a mistake to think it covers all bases. There is little on Catholic Social Teaching and there is a “preaching to the converted” tone – perhaps not surprising for a “Catholic Netflix,” but which may make it less helpful for new Catholics or inquirers. Still the site is evolving. Perhaps the Augustine Institute, owners of Formed.org could be persuaded to diversify and include Canadian content, or materials on Catholic Social Teaching? It you have the chance I urge you to take a look. Can Formed.org be a wholesome part of your formation in faith?
This Certificate Program is designed to give lay people the necessary Catechetical background in order to feel more confident in the following areas of Parish Ministry:
- Sacramental Preparation
- Youth Ministry
- Parish-based Catechesis
This program, offered in three levels covering various topics, is also invaluable to anyone seeking to know more about their Catholic Faith.
Course Registration Fee is $100 for each Level.
Location: Canadian Martyrs Parish 835 Northmount Dr NW, Calgary, AB
Catechetical Certificate Program 2017-2018
Topic Order is subject to change
- Scriptural Foundations (Hebrew Scriptures): Sept. 30
- Scriptural Foundations (New Testament) : Oct. 14
- Liturgy: Oct. 28
- General Directory for Catechesis: Nov. 11
- How to be and Effective Catechist: Nov. 25
- Prayer and Spirituality: Dec. 2
It is a very exciting time in our diocese as the newly created Religious Education curriculum is rolling out in all Catholic schools in Alberta! Growing in Faith ~ Growing in Christ is the fruit of a powerful collaboration of the Catholic Bishops of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. This new curriculum replaces the long standing Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ curriculum Born of the Spirit.
This new catechetical instrument which will be for grades one through eight is already being used by grades one, two and three. Within the next few years all grade levels will be available. This new program of studies is state-of-the-art as it embraces our Canadian Catholic milieu with our diverse ethnic communities and aboriginal peoples, as well as our Eastern Catholic communities such as Ukrainian Catholics and many more.
The program is organized in such a way as to journey with our children through the Church’s liturgical seasons, so that what they learn about how their faith is celebrated. This is reinforced by what they experience at Mass and in their Catholic school communities. The program includes a student text book, and an online component that students can share with their parents via their personal web portal.
Even the parish priest and his staff have a special parish web portal so that they can access and review what is happening at any grade level in religious education.
The program is also designed so that teachers who deliver the program will be personally enriched with materials specially researched to act as teacher enrichment resources. For the first time, we have a resource that can enrich the student, the parent, the teacher and the parish staff.
The Religious Education Office of the Diocese thanks Bishop Fred Henry for making this project a reality. Bishop Henry’s untiring efforts to seek out partners for collaboration, in order to bring this project to fruition cannot be exaggerated. As the Liaison Bishop for the Alberta Catholic Bishops, for the past 19 years, Bishop Henry has observed, validated, and put into motion all that was needed to help bring about a collaborated effort in producing the best catechetical resource we can have at this time for our school communities.
Bishop Henry spared no sacrifice or effort to meet, discuss, explore, dialogue, evaluate, and execute all that was needed to make this project a reality. On behalf of all the stakeholders within our diocese who, for years to come, will enjoy the many blessings of this rich and dynamic resource, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you God’s abundant grace and blessing for the years ahead!
The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association has prepared a resource that can be used in classrooms to supplement the letter written by the Catholic Bishops of Alberta-NWT for the 2016 Catholic Education Sunday.
To view the resource in English, click here.
To view the resource in French, click here.
On Saturday, September 24 the Diocesan Office of Religious Education gathered approximately 100 catechists at Holy Spirit Parish to celebrate the World Jubilee for Catechists. Following the special Mass, we listened to a marvelous presentation by Dan Lacroix on Fr. Albert Lacombe, whose centenary we are celebrating in Alberta this year. Fr. Lacombe was a zeal-filled catechist who brought the message of the Gospel to native people of our land. His “Catechetical Ladder” was one of the original catechetical tools used to help the native people of Alberta visualize God’s saving plan for humanity.
After our historical journey into our past (which will be shared in more detail in upcoming editions of THE CARILLON, starting in December) we were treated to a profoundly faith enriching presentation by renowned motivational Catholic speaker Michael Chiasson, and Erin, a young woman joyfully testifying to her own faith renewal. Michael and Erin’s faith witnesses re-enkindled the fire that motivates us to go out and spread the Good News to all we meet!
Many of the participants will be registering for our Diocesan Catechetical Certificate Program. The program has been running since its launch in the Holy Year 2000. The program consists of three levels that are presented from September until June each year. Hundreds have graduated from the program feeling more confident and empowered to share their faith with others by various means of catechesis: in RCIA; sacramental preparation; as Catholic school teachers; and in youth ministry and adult faith formation groups. If you are interested in learning more about your Catholic faith check out our Diocesan website: www.calgarydiocese.ca under Religious Education to register for the next session.