TeamRCIA hosted a meeting online with diocesan directors yesterday to talk about the formation needs of those who minister in Christian Initiation. We discussed how best to meet those needs now that the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, the premier organization for RCIA institutes for more than 30 years, is closing its doors on June 30.
Out of our contact list of about 80 diocesan personnel, 45 signed up to join us for this discussion. Several more who could not be present asked to be kept informed of our plans and progress. The energy for working together is high!
The team at TeamRCIA was excited about this meeting, too. Nick Wagner, Diana Macalintal, Rita Burns Senseman, and I did the planning, and one of our favorite collaborators, Sr. Miriam Malone, was also able to join us and share her wisdom.
What did we talk about?
- The need for training events and tools that fit the people who are entrusted with catechumenate ministry today, many of whom are volunteers working on a limited budget
- The need to keep the vision alive, and hold it up as a model for all catechesis
- The need for resourcing in Spanish
- The need to work together with priests and bishops
- The challenge of getting beyond “The Catechism is my textbook” to understanding true formation
- The challenge of sticking with those who have been through an intense workshop experience, to help them integrate it into everyday life
A three-step process
TeamRCIA proposed a three-step process that we could design and offer to hosting dioceses, drawing from the expertise and resources available at TeamRCIA and with the collaboration of others. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the model:
- Preliminary on-line work to get people thinking about the topic
- An overnight workshop: Friday night through Saturday afternoon
- On-line follow up in the style of “distance learning” with multiple components to deepen and reinforce what was learned in the live event
The diocesan directors liked this model. In fact, more than half of them volunteered to host us in their own dioceses to pilot the program in 2014 — and several who can’t do it in 2014 were open to doing it at some future time. Some great practical suggestions were surfaced, and all were recorded so that when we plan we can follow up.
Like a good network meeting, we ended up sharing information too — who is doing what, what’s working and what isn’t. We even surfaced the names of some bishops who might help us in the future, as we try to keep this ministry vital and growing.
When we at TeamRCIA were planning yesterday’s meeting, in the back of our minds was the story of Pentecost. Certainly the end of Forum has put many people into a mood of uncertainty about the future. But that sort of mood is precisely when faith is needed most.
Come Holy Spirit!
TeamRCIA has a lot of faithful readers and visitors to the website. If you are one of them, and you weren’t at yesterday’s meeting, here is how you can help. Call or e-mail your diocesan director (of RCIA or faith formation or liturgy or whoever is responsible for helping people to implement the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and find out if they are aware of the good things that are going on at TeamRCIA. Maybe we can join hands with them as we continue to plan for the future.
Oh, and one more thing. Please pray for us, that what we do together with these generous and good diocesan people will give glory to God and further the growth of the RCIA with integrity.
Photo courtesy of Tish Scargill