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  • faithonfireireland

Hearts and Minds: Catechist Formation Day - 9th April 2022

If you've read our earlier posts or looked through the Faith on Fire website, you'll know that our Catechist Formation Days are not just for this initial preparation stage in our journey: they are an integral and indispensable part of how we work and of the particular charism and characteristics of Faith on Fire. Each element of these days represents some part of what we are about and the approach we hope to bring to parishes we work with.

More than Just Coffee: Heart speaks to Heart

For example: the first item on the timetable for every formation day is "Coffee and Welcome". Unremarkable, you might think - but this is more than just a quick caffeine shot before beginning the 'real' work of the day.

In many ways, it is one of the most important parts of our days. Along with lunchtime, and another extended 'coffee and chat' break in the afternoon, these are moments when we build community and offer and receive solidarity and support in our work.

We have very deliberately included these extended opportunities for our group to relax together, to chat with now familiar faces, to get to know each other better and share our stories and news. These are essential moments for building real human and spiritual bonds and skills, for our group to really become a real family with a shared vision.

"Witness involves openness of heart, the capacity for dialogue and for relationships of reciprocity, the willingness to recognise the signs of goodness and of God's presence in the people one meets." ~ Directory for Catechesis (2020), 33.

And they are always ways of modelling the way we will work in parishes: these moments of personal encounter, of "heart speaking to heart", are one of the things we want to bring with us to parish communities. Yes, we'll be working with resources and programmes, helping to bring people to a growing knowledge of Christ, but the welcome we offer each person, the conversations we have before and after the sessions, over a coffee or as we help pack up - these are moments of grace and encounter.

With all your heart, and with all your soul, and

with all your mind.

Another regular part of our days is the excellent theological formation we receive, from Fr Terence Crotty O.P. in Scripture, Fr Jim Doyle, Diocese of Ferns, in Fundamental Theology, and Fr John Harris O.P, in Moral Theology. We are truly blessed to have teachers of such calibre: their lively and enlightening lectures build on the knowledge the group already has: we know that we can always go deeper into Truth, who is Christ Himself.

The priests shape their talks so as to be of most use to catechists who will be working on the ground in parishes. The question and answer sessions at the end of the talks are especially helpful in helping us 'translate' the theology to the ordinary lives of men and women in our parishes.

"I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it." ~St John Henry Newman

And it helps us to keep our own hearts on fire, to have that "spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you." (Eph 1:17-18) If we want to share the Good News of Christ, we ourselves have to have know and love Him more and more.


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