Faith Formation Develops Renewal Best Practices

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The 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) “Renewed in Faith, Hope and Charity,” assists in responding to the challenges of the Fourth Diocesan Synod. The synod listened to the voices of the faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, recognized the need to strengthen and support family life, to create energetic parish outreach to engage youth and to renew the ministry of faith formation throughout the diocese.

These goals are being actively pursued through the restructured Office of Faith Formation, supported by donations to the ACA. “Renewing the ministry of faith
formation throughout our diocese was one of the global challenges of the synod,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in announcing the new appointments for Faith Formation. “Leading each person to a deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus in and through his Church begins with a clear, authentic teaching of our Catholic faith.”

The members of the Faith Formation Office have all been named to the Catechetical Task Force to explore a new generation of faith formation approaches. Evan Psencik is coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Formation, Rose Talbot-Babey manages the area of Childhood Formation and Kim Quatela is in charge of Family Formation.

“I spend a lot of my time going out, meeting with youth ministers in their parishes and asking, ‘What is it you need?’” said Psencik. “They want training, they want formation. They want to meet together and explore ways to build up their youth groups.”

In addition to his meetings at parishes, Psencik is involved in the formation of the Catholic Service Corps, enabling youth to express their faith in action, and in the spiritual preparation of the 250 young pilgrims headed for World Youth Day.

“Most of them are encountering the larger Church for the first time,” he noted. “World Youth Day is just the beginning of their faith journey. The hope is that it will light a fire of faith in teens, so that they will want to be more involved when they come home. That can start a ripple effect, inspiring their friends and classmates to learn more about their faith.”

Rose Talbot-Babey has also spent a large portion of her time in the field, meeting one-on-one with DREs, CREs, and pastors. She is also interfacing with Helen
Burland, executive director of St. Catherine Special Needs Center in Fairfield, working to connect those services to parishes with special needs children in their religious education programs.

“As a former DRE myself, I know that the central question for our catechetical programs is ‘Are we producing real disciples of Christ in our parish religious education and Catholic school classes?’” Talbot-Babey said. “Parishes and schools are all doing wonderful things, but all doing different things. The ACA helps support initiatives to bring people together, including catechetical days, professional days and sharing of best practices.”

Kim Quatella, coordinator of Family Formation, is working on a number of programs to assist and enrich families. The Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) process had more than 200 catechumens and candidates from 32 parishes join in the Rite of Election on February 14. Quatella is meeting now with volunteer couples for the renewed Marriage Preparation days, which will be held monthly beginning March 19. “We have a lot of ministries that haven’t been tapped into yet—for singles, for separated and divorced Catholics, for family to grow in faith together, for personal renewal of faith,” she said.

Through the Annual Catholic Appeal, Catholics at every stage of life can share in the energy and realistic optimism facilitated by the Office of Faith Formation. “There is so much hope in these ministries,” said Quatella. “Where a lot of people see darkness in our culture, the Church should see opportunity and growth. I see a lot of hope for enrichment and renewal.”

By Pat Hennessy

For more info on the Annual Catholic Appeal or to give online, go to www.2016ACAbridgeport.comor phone (203) 416-1470.