Strategic Plan 2010-13
Faith Formation Introduction
The group of people who formed the Catechesis Proposals and action plans have five key concerns that are reflected in all our recommendations:
As St. Camillus parish moves forward to integrate and expand its Faith Formation programs to assist our parishioners enrich their spiritual lives, there are five key curricular goals we wish to highlight:
The following pages detail our specific recommendations for the 5 goals we received. Each goal has 1-3 proposals that include a rationale and an action plan for the next three years. We recognize that these are recommendations: those implementing the proposals will enjoy the flexibility to do accomplish the objectives as they see fit.
Faith Formation Goal 1:
St. Camillus has developed a new vision and detailed plan for its Life-long Faith Formation program, including our parish school, which is based on the careful analysis of our pastoral realities and the best practices and curricula available in the area of faith formation for children, youth and adults.
Faith Formation Goal 1, Proposal 1: Inventory the current catechetical programs for children, youth, and adults.
Put together a group of 3 or 4 people, covering each of St. Camillus’ major language groups, and have each person conduct an interview of how the program in that language is structured, and what are the favorite aspects and most common criticisms of each program.
Rationale/Explanation: With the diversity of St. Camillus parish, one significant challenge is how to develop a vision and plan for catechesis that responds to the needs and culture of the various language and ethnic groups that make up the parish, while at the same time maintaining some type of unity and common vision. A document that details what we have been doing will be essential to helping the new Faith Formation Director understand what we have in our programs, and what are the visions of where we want to go. The document will be prepared as quickly as possible.
Faith Formation Goal 1, Proposal 2: Establish a Faith Formation Board to assist the Offices of Faith Formation.
In order to support the Lifelong Faith Formation Director (LFFD), a Faith Formation Board will be established, and will include the co-directors of faith formation for Children and Youth, members of the Catechesis BPP, as well as catechists and other interested parishioners.
• Once an LFFD is established, the LFFD and Office of Faith Formation will be encouraged to interview candidates, and build the Faith Formation Board together with the pastoral leadership. This will occur in the first year of the plan.
Faith Formation Goal 1, Proposal 3: (Resources for Lifetime Learning) Review and improve the resources available to those who will work on all levels in the area of Life-long Faith Formation. This will take place in the first year of the plan.
Rationale/Explanation: We need more effective recruitment and training for catechists. Our catechists deserve the best available enrichment in terms of ongoing faith-formation education, resources and possibility of honing their pedagogical skills. The Office of Faith Formation should lead this effort as a first task.
Faith Formation Goal 1, Proposal 4: Begin a pilot program for Whole Community Faith Formation.
Develop and begin a pilot program for “Whole Community Faith Formation.” Begin with programming for the RCIA and RCIY communities, but make these events available to others as well. Consider offering the program to more parishioners depending on its success in the first year(s). Programs should be self-standing, so that people could participate in one without prerequisites. Over time, programs will be extended to more of our community.
Rationale/Explanation: Each of the ministerial assessment study groups (Prayer and Worship, Stewardship, and Justice, Peace and Care of Creation) has goals that call for a better integration of their respective areas with the Faith Formation/Catechesis. Moreover, the intergenerational “Whole Community Faith Formation” would, in a special way, assist the parents in carrying out their responsibility to pass on the living faith to their children. As the Parish moves towards Life-long Faith Formation model, choosing an annual theme from the materials available will allow a framework in which to experiment. [Office of Faith Formation will need internet/computer lab access to implement this the way they envision it]
Faith Formation Goal 2: St. Camillus parish has allocated sufficient financial resources and assembled a qualified staff that is capable of providing the high quality faith formation programs and making full use of digital media technologies. This approach to fostering a life-long process of faith formation includes family/ home-centered activities, small and large group learning, various types of retreats, Whole Community Faith Formation, and mission trips. It also effectively utilizes the resource that is our parish school, providing as many children as possible an intense faith formation experience.
Faith Formation Goal 2, Proposal 1: Hire a full-time Director of Life-long Faith Formation (in progress)
This proposal is most fully developed in the Evangelization chapter. The catechesis group suggests that LFFD responsibilities would include: Implementing a variety of faith formation programs that respond to various needs of our diverse community, organizing retreats; coordinating and meeting with representatives of all committees; oversight of Adult Faith Formation and its teachers, training for RCIA teachers, providing training and organizing courses for all ministries in the Parish, including Hearts Aflame, Dayton University and internet programs.
Rationale/Explanation: This proposal is also offered by the Community Building, JPIC, Evangelization, F&PC, Liturgy, and Stewardship committees. All agree that, while this requires a large financial commitment, expansion of the present catechesis program to a lifelong learning approach necessitates a significant amount of work and a high level of coordination, both of which call for creating a full-time Director of Life-Long Faith Formation. See Evangelization Goal 1, Proposal 1 for the Action Steps in the hiring process.
Faith Formation Goal 2, Proposal 2: Further develop material that would assist and empower parents to take a more active role in transmitting and sharing faith with their children at home.
A number of parents increasingly realize that they are called to accompany their children on their faith journey. The church should build on this. A program like this is designed to be led at home by parents, but supported by materials the parish provides in online or workbook format. For most families, this program will enrich rather than supplant a traditional catechetical program, but for those parents who wish to use a home school religious education approach, the Office of Faith Formation will provide clear guidelines on how homeschooled children can receive sacraments.
Rationale/Explanation: The program will focus on using weekly experiences in mass to help families stay focused on the word of Christ throughout the week, and will offer a structure for discussing Christian living in the context of everyday experiences. The program will identify what parents and children should discuss/consider before and after Mass each week, and will suggest how to reflect on scripture lessons throughout the week. Parents who wish to use a home school approach instead of traditional religious education must also work consistently through church-provided materials that are age-appropriate, probably in the form of a workbook. The home/church faith formation program will support parents in their efforts to reinforce themes from scripture and homilies while always listening for their children’s moral and ethical growth. It is proposed that the supporting materials for very young children be done first.
Faith Formation Goal 3: Through its online presence, St. Camillus parish has reached out to the unaffiliated and unengaged young adults that were actively engaged in social networking sites.
Faith Formation Goal 3, Proposal 1: Establish a Communications Team to develop a comprehensive plan of communication that includes, but is not limited to, the integration of the most current technologies. (This is also addressed in Community Building, Family & Pastoral Care, Prayer & Worship, and JPIC).
The Communications team proposal is best developed in the Community Building chapter. For the Catechesis team, the most important aspect is to extend the material available on the website with the goal of reaching ten distinct groups: 1) children and pre-teens; 2) teens; 3) college age; 4) post-college/young adult; 5) 30-something ASK; 6) Parents of children 3-18 years old; 7) politically active parishioners; 8) social-justice focused parishioners; 9) former members of St. Camillus who have moved away; 10) non-Catholics. It is essential that the Lifelong Faith Formation Director (LFFD) be tech-savvy. He or she will oversee the process of expanding St. Camillus’s web presence. The LFFD will identify a webmaster or web team. The Strategic Plan hopes to offer some sense of which areas are priority, but the extent to which the web presence is built will depend on user interest and the ability to attract a volunteer Communications Team willing to maintain and build the website. The steps recommended below depend on the success of previous steps. Plans for the Communications Team are further outlined in the Community Building proposal.
Rationale: Focusing on each of the ten constituencies we are seeking to serve will help ensure that St. Camillus, in a 3 year period, can reach a broad audience and be balanced in its web-based outreach.
The Communications Team should consider the following steps, depending on interest and time available:
• Build links for all interested ministry groups
• Offer links to outside websites for prayer and education
• Establish a Parish Blog
• Establish the “Parenting as a Faith Journey” section to help parents with Catechesis Goal 2 Proposal 2
• Register users if this is deemed useful after a pilot effort
• Help 8th grade and Confirmation classes develop web format projects (together with Religious Education team)
•Development of an online registration option for all programs of the Office of Faith Formation
For more details of the Communications Team projects, see also Community Building (Goal 3, proposal 3; Goal 4, proposal 1) ; F&PC (goal 1, proposal 1) Prayer & Worship (Goal 3, proposal 1), JPIC (Goal 6, proposal 2).
[The communications team prepared a longer, more detailed set of action steps. This set of steps should be given to the communications team as a recommendation… but was taken out of the strategic plan, as the team needs to be free to adapt their plan depending on interest and time availability]
Faith Formation Goal 4: The catechetical program for children, youth and adults at St. Camillus parish is integrated within the overall pastoral ministry of the parish, which includes formation for a life of discipleship, prayer and worship, stewardship, leadership development, justice and service.
Faith Formation Goal 4, Proposal 1 (Children’s Program): Help the Office of Religious Education structure a more manageable, cost-effective system.
Focus the religious education program on parish children while restricting the number of children from other area parishes attending our catechetical programs because of convenience and/or a very low Religious Education fee.
Rationale/Explanation: The St. Camillus catechism program is large and growing, and placing a great deal of demand on the building and staff personnel already stretched thin. In the younger grades, a class size of 20 (instead of the current 25+) would enhance the learning experience for students and for teachers. Class size will adhere to the policies of the Archdiocese. The current fees do not cover our basic expenses. Raising fees, however, would change that and also enable us to offer scholarships to families in need.
Note: St. Camillus in 2009 charged $65 per family plus $15 per child, with $5 additional for Communion class and $25 additional for Confirmation class. There was a maximum family cost of $110. Only an estimated 40% of children in CCD have parents who were registered parishioners.
Faith Formation Goal 4, Proposal 2 (Service Program): Help better integrate service into education at all levels.
Formation for discipleship includes integration of service and worship. The religious education program will include a service project that takes place during at least one class period during the year. For older children, more opportunities can be provided to confirmation students to complete their service hours at St. Camillus or as part of a St. Camillus community. Those who are involved in organizing the service project will communicate with either the Parish liturgy committee responsible for writing Prayers of the Faithful for the Sunday Mass or with an appropriate person in charge of the school liturgy and seek new and creative ways of involving children and youth in a special liturgical celebration.
Rationale: Small projects for younger students can integrate service into the program itself on a scale that would be manageable, mix various ages together, and provide meaningful experiences of a worship community in action. Confirmation students are already required to do service hours, but completing service projects together would enhance their sense of community. Service hours at St. Camillus will give them more familiarity with what work St Camillus does.
• All religious education classes to have at least one period per year spent on an age-appropriate service project.
• Integrate service into the curriculum in discussion: applying tenets of faith to everyday life.
• Increase opportunities for confirmation and RCIY students to do service with St. Camillus groups.
• Integrate service and worship: identify how each project fits into sacred experience
• Have Seniors in Service work with youth and CCD (see Goal 4, proposal 3)
• Establish a page of volunteer ideas on the website for young people.
[A longer and more specific set of action steps have been proposed. The review team provided the detailed list to the Office of Faith Formation as recommendations, but removed these specific steps from the Strategic Plan to give the Faith Formation office maximum flexibility.]
Faith Formation Goal 4, Proposal 3 (Seniors): Integrate Seniors into our Life Long Faith Formation efforts.
Many of our older parishioners have rich spiritual lives and experience. St Camillus will seek to draw them more into multi-generational efforts to share their understanding and continue growing through service to younger members of our community. Our younger members, in turn, will grow from an opportunity to serve the Seniors and to share their spiritual journeys.
Rationale/Explanation: In addition to having a rich community of older Catholics, St. Camillus will soon be neighbor to a Senior Citizens complex. In reaching out to our seniors, we need to be more aware – not only of how we can help them – but how they can help those of us who are at earlier stages in our life journey.
Faith Formation Goal 4, Proposal 4 (Education for JPIC): The JPIC group will identify and consider the best practices of several parishes and schools where justice, peace and the integrity of creation have been incorporated into their liturgical life, the Life-long Faith Formation programs, and the elementary and the middle school curricula. They will share what they learn with the Faith Formation team. This should begin in the first year of the plan.
Rationale/Explanation: There are a few parishes and schools in our Franciscan Province (St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, NC, St. Mary’s Church in Paterson, NJ, our church in Beach Haven, NJ) that have already undertaken this task and have been quite successful in this regard. We should tap into their experience and wisdom so that we’ll be able to glean from the best practices in this area. However, to do this requires people with interest and certain expertise in the area of JPIC and/or education. It also calls for the discipline to see this initiative through.
Faith Formation Goal 5: The catechetical program offers an extensive system of support for lay catechists and parents of children in our Religious Education as well as the teachers and parents in our school.
Faith Formation Goal 5, Proposal 1: Establish clear structures of support, supervision, accompaniment and evaluation for catechists, and systems of support for parents of children and youth in our LFF programs.
Rationale/Explanation: Catechists need the necessary space, time, and assistance from the parish to be able to reflect and evaluate both the style and the content of their religious instructions. For this to happen, there should be some structures put in place that formalize this and incorporate it into everyone’s planning. A focus session before school starts can provide a chance to explain changes in curriculum and emphasis. A weekly brief meeting of all catechists will ensure transfer of timely information. Feedback about classroom performance can help the catechists to improve, and the process of assessment can help the office of religious education determine where help is especially needed. An annual retreat for catechists (hopefully to include religion teachers from the school as well) will nurture them individually and build their community. Annual retreats for students would give the catechists fresh ideas and inspire new approaches to their weekly teaching.
Teachers not only need spiritual training to create unity and understand the curriculum, but they also need to know basic classroom management skills, how to recognize learning differences and communicate with parents. St Camillus needs a better system for helping our teachers with these issues.
 By comparison, St John the Evangelist, Silver Spring, charges $120 per child. St Joseph, Beltsville charges as follows: For registered parishioners who have used envelopes for at least the past 6 months is $50; Those who are not registered - $75; with additional fees of $35 and $45 to defray the cost of preparation for the First Communion and Confirmation programs respectively. St John the Baptist, Silver Spring charges as follows: early registration before Aug 15 ($80 for registered parishioners; $100 for those who are non-registered); Late registration ($110 in parish; $130 out of parish); second child costs only $50 additional for in-parish, $100 additional for out of parish.