What tulips and clogs teach us about faith formation

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIAThe RCIA teams of Western Michigan gathered recently to discuss how to get our parish communities more involved in the initiation process. Together, we created several scenarios for a seeker we might actually encounter. We looked at how we could immerse the seeker in a training process using the activities already taking place in the parish.

The four areas of training

Every parish engages in living the Christian life through word, community, worship, and service. What we discovered was, that instead of focusing on a classroom experience that is separated from the ongoing life of the parish, we could instead use the very life of the parish as the heart of the seekers’ formation process.

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The hosts and organizers of the institute were Jeff Andrini, faith formation director at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Parish in Grand Haven and Nancy Hardy, faith formation director at Our Lady of the Lakes in Holland.

Learning to dance in clogs

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIAThat’s Holland, Michigan, a town that still claims its Dutch roots. We happened to be there during their annual tulip festival, during which the entire city is abloom with a rainbow of flowers. We even saw town residents dressed in traditional Dutch garb, including wooden clogs. Apparently, they can even dance in those things.

It occurred to us that the tulip festival had a lot of commonalities with catechumenate formation. The people of Holland learned how to plant and grow tulips, sew Dutch costumes, cook Dutch food, and dance in wooden clogs by actually doing those cultural activities in the midst of the community. In a similar way, we have to get the catechumens out into the parish community so they can learn how to live as Christians by being immersed in Christian life.

Come join a future institute

If you’d like to participate in a training institute with TeamRCIA, we have event scheduled across the U.S. and Canada. One of them even includes free registration! Click here to see the list of places we will be this year, and come join us. We’d love to see you.

See also these related articles:
  1. What if you could ask your bishop what he thought was important in the RCIA?
  2. What tulips and clogs teach us about faith formation
  3. The Diocese of Richmond starts off our 2015 RCIA institutes
  4. San Francisco focuses on the six principles of the RCIA
  5. Monterey digs deep into RCIA…in two languages!

“Grand Haven Institute” by R. Szczepanski; “Holland welcome” | Wikimedia

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  1. Yes. I’m on the other side of the state from Holland, but I’ve got this same vision. The diversity of the person and their needs that contacts me about being Catholic makes a classroom process (which is what we still do) unworkable. Not to mention the way it isolates them from the community and ultimately, I think, sets them up for a quick fall when the RCIA community pulls away.
    What parts of parish life were put forward as places to incorporate seekers?
    However, I also find that those in the RCIA process like being around those in a similar stage to them. I see that the Sunday dismissal time can provide this time of grouping. What other places/times were recommended?

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