WASHINGTON (November 15, 1999) -- A plan on adult faith formation will be voted on by the U.S. bishops during their annual meeting in Washington, Nov. 15-18.
Titled "Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us, A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States," the plan calls the Church in the United States to renew its commitment to adult faith formation, building upon the work already done in parishes and dioceses throughout this country.
The pastoral plan has two goals:
- To form parishes that are vitally alive in the faith
- To form adults who actively cultivate a lively baptismal and Eucharistic spirituality leading to lives of witness and service.
Part Two offers a brief description of the key elements of the mature faith needed to be authentic disciples.
Part Three identifies three key goals for adult faith formation, some principles to guide the work in the areas of planning, conducting and inculturating adult faith formation, content areas to be addressed and several approaches to consider in providing sound and diversified adult faith formation.
Part Four focuses on the parish as the key locus of adult faith formation ministry and identifies critical roles of parish leadership and diocesan support.
In the document the bishops stress their primary goal.
"We intend the vision, initiatives, and time line of this plan to awaken throughout the Church in our country a passion for renewal in the ministry of adult faith formation," they say. The bishops also recognize that the plan needs time for implementation and note that at least one full year will be needed before local plans can be put into effect. They call for an assessment of the progress made five years later and state this should happen at intervals of five years on an ongoing basis.
The plan was submitted to the body of bishops by Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans, Chairman of the Committee on Education which oversees the Committee on Catechesis.
In presenting the plan, the Committee noted that Pope John Paul II in Tertio Millennio Adveniente and more recently in Ecclesia in America has called for a new commitment to renewal and catechesis.
"This initiative by the bishops on adult faith formation is one way to concretely respond to the calls of the Holy Father," they said. "It would give an impetus to the development of a comprehensive approach to adult faith formation especially at the parish level. The publication of this plan would be very timely in light of the priority given to adult catechesis in the recently published GENERAL DIRECTORY FOR CATECHESIS.