The Catholic Parishes in Waterloo have embarked on an exciting new collaborative approach to faith formation for Catholics at every age and stage of life.
Here are questions and answers about this new, collaborative approach to faith formation which is being implemented this summer and fall.
Faith formation in the four Waterloo parishes is being reorganized in order to provide more choices and better faith formation opportunities for Catholics at every age and stage of life. The big change is that starting this fall the parishes will not have separate Faith Formation Leaders (formerly called DREs or Directors of Religious Education). The four parishes will be served by a team of Faith Formation Leaders and Coordinators which will be responsible for faith formation in all four parishes. The team will include faith formation leaders for children and families, adults, young adults, and youth ministry, and coordinators for various individual faith formation programs.
Faith formation in the Waterloo parishes is being reorganized so that we can provide more choices and better faith formation opportunities for Catholics at every age and stage of life. We believe that the parishes can best meet the growing number and diversity of needs by sharing our resources and working together. In fact, our parishes have a long history of working together on faith formation and, this collaborative approach is consistent with the recommendations of the recent Task Force on the future of our parishes. This approach will enable our parishes to provide new opportunities and resources none of us can provide on our own; it will enable us to provide faith formation opportunities and resources for some needs and some people who are not well-served at the present time; and it will allow us to offer new options which fit people’s busy schedules.
This new approach means that our Faith Formation Leaders and Coordinators will be working together to address our common needs for faith formation at every age and stage of life. Because each Faith Formation Leader or Coordinator will be focusing on a specific aspect of faith formation we will be able to insure the continuity and quality of opportunities available to every parish, offer opportunities and options which we cannot afford to offer at the present time, and avoid unnecessary duplication from one parish to the next. The end result will improve the quality, the quantity and the availability of faith formation opportunities for all four parishes.
Under this new approach, some faith formation opportunities which in the past were available in each parish will only be available at one location, but they will be available to members from all four parishes. This means parish members may have to travel to another location as they already do for adult faith formation, youth ministry, and Catholic schools. For instance, starting this fall, Wednesday night religious education for children who do not attend a Catholic school will be available in only one location; parent information meetings for sacrament preparation will take place in only one or two locations, not all four parishes; and preparation for Confirmation will be combined in one or two locations.
The main advantage is that we will be working together as parishes to meet common needs which transcend parish boundaries and exceed individual parish resources; as a result, we will be able to provide more choices and better faith formation opportunities for Catholics at every age and stage of life. For instance, although there will be only one Wednesday night religious education program, we will be able to expand our summer religious education program and offer a weekend option for children’s religious education; in the near future Sunday Liturgy of the Word with Children will be available in all four parishes; we will be able to expand our evangelization efforts and our faith formation opportunities for young adult Catholics and parents. In time, we will be expanding our capacity to provide continuing faith formation using social media.
The four Waterloo parishes already share a preparation program for Baptism; this preparation program meets once a month and rotates from parish to parish. Last year, the parishes combined the parent information meetings for children's First Confession and First Communion, offering parents a choice of different times and different locations. The celebration of Reconciliation (Confession) will take place in one or two parishes and will be available to children and parents from all four parishes. The celebration of First Communion will take place in each of the four parishes, which allows the parish communities to preserve individual parish traditions and customs. Preparation for Confirmation will be combined in one or two locations, and celebration of the Sacrament will continue to take place in a combined liturgy.
Our collaborative approach recognizes that parish boundaries and parish communities today are much more flexible than in the past. Catholics move frequently from one parish to another, and many belong to a particular parish even though they don’t live within the boundaries of that parish. Many Catholics attend Mass, enroll their children in a Catholic school, or participate in adult formation and spiritual growth opportunities in a parish where they are not members. By sharing our resources and efforts the four parishes will be able to provide more choices and better faith formation opportunities for Catholics at every age and stage of life; in the end, this will make each of our parishes, and the Catholic community in Waterloo, stronger.
Ultimately, the pastor is responsible for all faith formation in a parish. In the Waterloo parishes, faith formation policy, procedures and personnel are set by the Waterloo Catholic Faith Formation Commission. The Commission has nine voting members: one member elected at large from each parish, one member appointed by each Pastoral Council, and one member chosen by the Hispanic Community. Each pastor is also a voting member of the Commission, although normally the pastors are represented by one pastor chosen from among the four. The Faith Formation Leaders for children and families, adults, young adults, and youth ministry serve as non-voting members of the Commission.
In the near future we will be publishing a Guide to Faith Formation which will list the names, responsibilities and contact information for members of the Faith Formation Administrative Team and the various Faith Formation Coordinators. This Guide will explain who is responsible for what, and who you should call if you have a question or concern. This information will also be available in our parish bulletin, on parish websites, and on the Waterloo Catholics website. In addition, there will be a general telephone number for faith formation; the person who answers this phone will be able to direct your call to the correct Faith Formation Leader.
The members of the Faith Formation Administrative Team and the various Faith Formation Coordinators will be located in each of the four parishes. Which Faith Formation Leaders or Coordinators will be located in which parish will be finalized later this summer. Although a particular Faith Formation Leader or Coordinator may have an office in one parish, the Faith Formation Leaders and Coordinators are responsible for faith formation in all four parishes and will generally be available to meet with parish members at any parish location.
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Do you have a question about changes in faith formation in the Waterloo Parishes? Contact a member of the Waterloo Faith Formation Commission or submit your question by email to:firstname.lastname@example.org.