Feedback from Seminar on Sacramental Preparation
Priests, Deacons, Sacramental Preparation Workers and Diocesan Assembly Council members met in Orange on 5th April 2016 to discuss current programs for sacramental preparation and how they might be improved. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was used as a basis/model for discussion during the day.
It was agreed that there needs to be an invitation for people to join, with the intent being for parishioners to be actively involved.
- Parents attending a programme should feel a sense of community. To achieve this, detailed planning needs to be completed with the priest and a team well in advance.
- The plan needs to outline dates, best place to hold the meetings, most convenient time, possibility of child-minding and detailed content.
- Attention should be given to present “Theology 101” in an interesting way, such as with the use of multi-media.
- The organising groups need to be mindful to avoid the extremes of the priest doing everything, or the team doing it all and priest being incidental.
The aim is to facilitate an encounter with Jesus through the scriptures.
- The focus should be on conversion and so the experience is not just a ‘head trip’ but a ‘heart journey’.
- We should remember that not everyone proceeds at the same pace, or is at the same stage of faith.
- Jesus is the sacrament - the Risen Christ - and must be central to the process.
- We need to be conscious that we are not just preparing “to get the sacraments” but to make disciples, meaning, we are inviting people to drop everything and follow Christ!
It is important to have a dynamic community that attracts new members. In order to create a sustainable life for our communities, part of the process must be forming parishioners as evangelists.
- Thought should be given to the role of testimony and peer-to-peer ministry and how this can fit in the process.
- We need to help people to discover and understand their role as evangelists; this is counter-cultural in Australia today.
As well as affirming the parents in their role as first educators in faith, thought should be given as to how we should ask them ‘What are you doing to nourish your own faith?’, not just that of their children.
Follow up is essential. A one-off meeting will not achieve our purpose. Every programme should give attention to how this might be achieved - letters, emails, visits, invitations to other events in the parish.