In the coming months the Lifelong Faith Formation Department is updating the catechist formation requirements in order to create a solid, robust formation process for adult catechists.
"If we want to have quality faith formation experiences for our families and our parishes, then the people God is calling to serve in this capacity deserve good formation," said Mary Beth Coates, diocesan director of Lifelong Faith Formation. "The catechist formation program can be seen as a tool for adults to continue their learning and growing in their own faith."
The faith formation curriculum "Forming Disciples" guides the requirements for the enhanced formation needed for catechists. "The framework is about how parishes are providing faith formation, along with the content," Coates said. "We must equip our catechists with skills and knowledge needed for our Church in our current setting in the Diocese of Buffalo."
The role of the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation is to serve as a partner and to help direct these efforts. "Catechists think of themselves as religion teachers. We want to introduce them to another vision, one of being a faith witness. That happens through ongoing lifelong faith formation, when each of the baptized encounter Christ repeatedly in ever deepening ways," Coates said.
In order provide parish leaders with quality formation for their catechists, the department will be releasing a list of approved catechist formation opportunities for the 2018-2019 year. Megan Nixon, who is coordinating this effort for the diocese, is curating a variety of resources for parish use. Her role is to assist the faith formation coordinator in the planning of quality education and formation for their catechists.
The list will include a variety of learning formats including online courses, live sessions and workshops offered throughout the diocese. While not all-inclusive, it is intended to serve as a starting point for parish leaders when planning for catechist formation.
Parish leaders are able to create a formation plan that fits their needs. However, it must be pre-approved by contacting the department of Lifelong Faith Formation. As long as the activity meets the diocesan standards for catechist formation, it should be approved. "We have to prepare the adults who continue to be the volunteers, to have the right kind of skills and knowledge," said Coates.
By 2019, the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation will work with My Catholic Faith Delivered, an online learning platform. Users will register through the site, allowing parish leaders to manage catechists and provide catechists with a way to track and record their formation. Courses developed by My Catholic Faith will be offered on the site, and other vetted courses will be available too.
More information will be shared as this process develops. For questions concerning catechist formation, contact Megan Nixon at 716-847-8760.