Archbishop Charles Chaput will launch the local efforts to deepen the faith of Catholics during the universal Church’s Year of Faith with a Mass Oct. 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
The Year of Faith began Oct. 11 with a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, which was also the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“The entire purpose of the Year of Faith is an encounter with the living Christ,” said Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre, who with his staff is working to promote and coordinate activities for the year in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “Through his writings the Holy Father constantly points out that Christianity is an encounter with the living God and out of that flows everything else.”
There are two main thrusts to the year, he explained: “Return to the word of God (by pondering) it in a more profound manner; look again at the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We’re trying to make our plans based on these realities.”
Many parishes are applying the goal of helping Catholics better understand their faith to typical parish devotions but also through new study programs for adult faith formation groups.
Through an archdiocesan program, parishes are deepening their knowledge of the faith by studying the “12 Articles of the Catholic Faith,” a series that examines the Nicene Creed. Also known as the “12 Pillars” program, it uses the popular DVD collection “Catholicism” by Father Robert Barron as a springboard for discussion, along with a study guidebook.
Parish-based adult faith formation groups are planning study and service activities, including at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester. In addition to integrating the 12 Pillars program throughout numerous parish programs including sacramental preparation and the parish youth group, St. Max’s invites parishioners to its 24-part Church history series.
Old St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia and St. Norbert’s in Paoli both will study the Second Vatican Council during October and November.
Other parishes with Year of Faith activities include:
• St. Cyprian in Philadelphia, which is also celebrating Black Catholic History Month in November;
• St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia, which features teams of parishioners beginning door-to-door evangelization visits in the West Philadelphia neighborhoods every Monday;
• St. Rose of Lima in North Wales, which begins the three-part “ChristLife Evangelization Process” of study and social outreach from now until fall of 2013;
• Our Mother of Good Counsel in Bryn Mawr, which continues its extensive study groups, social outreach and communal prayer through daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours;
• St. Joachim in Northeast Philadelphia hosts a eucharistic holy hour, 7-8 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month, and a weekly faith-sharing retreat throughout Lent;
• Parishioners of Annunciation B.V.M. in Havertown will enjoy Breakfast with the Saints on four Saturdays in the year, in which they discover the holy men and women of the Catholic Church;
• Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales continues its study of the Bible with a series by Jeff Cavins available three days a week, and the parish prepares for its consecration to Jesus through Mary Nov. 5 until the consecration on Dec. 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception;
• Corpus Christi in Upper Gwynedd hosts ongoing support programs for mothers, fathers and singles, and early morning events like the Breakfast Club, which meets after the 7:15 a.m. Mass to discuss the Vatican II anniversary over refreshments;
• St. Pius X in Broomall will host “Rosary in the Field,” an outdoor candlelight rosary at 6:30 p.m., following Mass, Oct. 13 in the field nearby the church, and a discussion on living the faith courageously in public with professor Peter Colosi at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22.
Events at the archdiocesan level include the Year of Faith theme for the annual Catholic Life Congress Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, featuring Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, U.S. Catholic Bishops conference official Jonathan Reyes and Mass celebrated by Archbishop Chaput.
The Archdiocese will host a day-long workshop on Vatican II in April or May of 2013.
The Archbishop will also conclude a series of four lectures in the archdiocese by noted national Catholic figures during the winter and fall of next year, culminating in the end of the Year of Faith next October.
One initiative that may be quite unusual for Catholics is a series of planned demonstrations of public witness. The 12 deans of the archdiocese are contacting parish pastors to encourage each parish to initiate some expression of Catholic witness to the wider public, with two events in the spring and two in the summer, according to Meghan Cokeley, assistant director of the Office for Life, Family and the Laity, the office coordinating many of the Year of Faith’s activities in the archdiocese.
The public events join the aspect of studying the Catholic faith as essential components of Catholic life that are the focus of the Year of Faith.
“It’s impossible to give authentic assent of the faith if you don’t know your faith,” Cokeley said. “It’s critical to know our faith well.”
Bishop McIntyre said he hopes all the Year of Faith’s initiatives “will spill over in the life of the Church. We live in a Catholic area, we’ve had a stable Catholic existence” which has resulted in building of Catholic churches, schools and institutions.
“It’s time for us to look for new initiatives and opportunities to witness your membership in the church, (to) stir up the gift of faith,” he said.
The archdiocese’s website for the Year of Faith features complete, updated details.