Our parish is in transition in the area of Faith Formation ministry. I believe the last major transition happened when the parish school was closed in 2007. After that difficult event a new program was introduced, the Generations of Faith (GOF). It is my understanding it was well attended and enjoyed by both children and adults for several years. Over time though, the numbers of children registered with the program was going steadily down. This past year we ended up with only a few students per class. Before the end of this school year, several catechists announced they would not be coming back to teach GOF next fall. With no replacements to be found that effectively meant the end of the GOF.
About 20 people representing GOF families and concerned parishioners advised me at the emergency parish open meeting on May 15th that GOF cannot be saved or reformed. More discussions at the subsequent parish meetings pointed to new models of Faith Formation, done in a format of Youth Ministry for middle and high school levels (weekly), and in an enhanced model of the Vacation Bible School for K-4 (bi-weekly). All K-12 levels will fulfill the diocesan curriculum requirements of minimum 30 hours of approved content catechesis a year. Adults will be invited to join group Scripture Studies, and other group video-based book studies, starting this summer and fall.
The details of the new programs are still being worked on, but I believe this major transition is a real chance for the parish to reverse the declining trend of families, youth, and children participation in the parish liturgies and life. To that end a new Youth Ministry Faith Formation paid leadership position has been established and is being advertised in the parish and in our diocese. We are looking to hire the best qualified professional we can afford to lead the new programs with a new vision. In this point, I would like to express my gratitude to JoJo Palumbo who led GOF at our parish for the past 9 years. Many came to know her warm smile and kind words she had for everyone. I invited JoJo to consider applying for the new position as one of the candidates, but she informed me she has other plans.
I will be away visiting my sister in Poland until the end of July. I will be praying for all parishioners at the Sunday and daily Masses there. Please welcome Msgr. Thomas Crane who will be helping Msgr. Leo McCarthy in celebrating the parish Sunday and weekday parish Masses. This month of July, only the 6:15 pm Masses on Wednesdays have been cancelled; they will resume in August. Also, thanks to the gracious ministry of the members of Legion of Mary, the outdoor shrine of Our Lady of Fatima will remain open during daytime this summer.
Happy 4th of July.