Wishing all the parishioners at St. Augustine's a Christmas filled with joy, peace, and Christ's love this 2019 year. Enjoy this reflection on the last ten months in the Faith Formation Office:
Our FF Programs officially kicked off this fall and we've seen a very good response thus far. Beginning with our programs for Children & Families, Fr. John approved the establishment of the Parish Family Events Committee (more info to come soon!), whose mission it is to hold events at the parish especially for families with young children. Its vision is one of reclaiming, restoring, and living out a vibrant Catholic culture both at the parish and in our homes. The PFEC held two successful events these past few months: first, the All Hallows' Eve party; and, second, the St. Nicholas Day celebration. A special thank-you to the Knights of Columbus for their sponsorship for the latter event which was attended by nearly 100 parishioners, both young and old!
Children & Families
Another big hit among the Children & Families programs were the Saturday morning Bible Storytime sessions we held once a month beginning in September. The moms were able to enjoy a bit of a respite and delve into the practice of lectio divina while the kids and I read Bible stories downstairs, did crafts, practiced our prayers, and learnt about the lives of the saints. Each month, the kids were allowed to sign a book out of our expanding Children's Library. A very special thanks to Fr. Christopher who joined us for our October Storytime, taking us on an adventure into the sacristy and the Church sanctuary where some of us saw Jesus present in the Eucharist for the first time! The looks of wonder and amazement on the kids' faces were unforgettable.
This Advent, we launched two smaller projects: the Advent Calendars (Praying for Priests), and the Giving Manger devotional. These two little daily practices are helping our families to enter into the liturgical season of Advent as we prepare for Christ's coming on the 25th.
Youth & Young Adults
For the Youth & Young Adults, the FF Office launched the Catholic Leadership Program (inspired by the example of Seat of Wisdom College in Barry's Bay, ON) which aims to meet the objectives of His Grace's post-synodal document for youth in our parish. The program is set to resume in the summer of 2020 (stay posted for more info) for high school aged youth at St. Augustine's.
In addition, the St. Cecilia's Choir is counting down the days until the 4 PM Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. The choir has brought young girls and women from St. Augustine's together creating new bonds of fellowship and allowing them to participate in the Mass in a new, sacred, and beautiful way. We hope to continue the choir after Christmas and again will be welcoming new members under the age of 30.
Another big thank-you to Fr. Christopher for facilitating the Young Adult Bible Study program on Friday evenings since September. We enjoyed 12 weeks of delving into the Book of Revelation, spending quiet time with Christ in the Eucharist, and strengthening our community through time of fellowship. Over 30 young adults were able to join for all or some parts of the study evenings! More details on future Bible studies for the young adults will be available in the New Year.
Adult Faith Formation
For the older and wiser generations of the parish, we saw big successes in both the Presence faith studies and Book Club sessions that were held this fall. Presence was a life-changing program for its participants, giving us the graces to experience the Mass anew, and to fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist in a way that we'd never imagined possible. The study was described as a "real treasure"..."very well done & inspirational"...one that "Every parishioner should be encouraged to attend". Our next sacramental study will take place beginning in Lent 2020--Forgiven: The Transforming Power of Confession.
The Book Club meetings which were held on a weekly basis down in the Square on Thursday evenings saw many fruitful small-group discussions as well. Each of us was given a unique opportunity to grow in our relationships with Christ through contemplation on the themes of prayer and silence, bringing our individual struggles before Him, but also able to rely on the wisdom and faith of the other participants in facing up to the challenges that await us beyond the walls of St. Augustine's. Several parishioners who couldn't attend the sessions due to mobility issues or conflicts of schedule, joined us in spirit through reading along with the book at home. At least nine copies of the book will be pass on to others this Christmas--a testament to the power of this program in the lives of its members.
Of course, the majority of the inspiration behind the FF programs of Fall 2019 were inspired by content on FORMED.org. It is an unparalleled and game-changing resource available for free to every parishioner at St. Augustine's, offering a host of movies, books, audio dramas, lectures, study series and much more! I couldn't be more happy to promote FORMED to every parishioner of any age.
2019 In Summary
With 2019 coming to a close, the Faith Formation Office is indebted to its volunteers and donors who have generously given of their time, talents, and treasure to spark the light of faith within our parish. St. Augustine's is seeing the movements of the Holy Spirit in each generation of parishioner from young to old through renewed prayer lives and a fervent commitment towards the hunger for the Truth. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on the bulletin board in the East Vestibule, the website, and the monthly newsletters to see what awaits you for opportunities in 2020. May our minds be enlightened, our hearts renewed, and our wills resolved in dedicating ourselves to making this new liturgical year one which we will never forget, perhaps even the year of renewal for our spiritual lives.